FROM SITTING DUCKS TO CUP FLIERS
REACHING the FA Cup first round is a dream for every Non-League side, but before this season, just winning a game would have been enough for Shaw Lane chairman Craig Wood.
Seven years ago, the Evo-Stik Northern Premier side began life in the South Yorkshire Amateur League, and have only been eligible to enter the FA Cup three times – each time, falling at the first hurdle.
However, this term, things are different for the Ducks. After brilliantly beating Barrow in the final qualifying round, the Barnsley-based minnows are raring to go ahead of next Saturday’s mouth-watering tie with Mansfield. “It is literally a dream come true.” said Wood.
“Not only is it amaz- ing that we have won four games, but to get to this stage and draw a League team – it’s a dream.
“Five years ago, our aim was to be knocking on the conference door and get to the first round of the FA Cup, but that was all a dream rather than a plan.
“All we have done is work hard, and the momentum has kept us going. We couldn’t have asked for any more.”
Shaw Lane’s historic FA Cup run started against Radcliffe Borough, before they beat Blyth Spartans, Lancaster City and finally Micky Moore’s Bluebirds.
“There are usually one or two Non-League teams who do well in the FA Cup, but they are usually well known – we are so new.” Wood told The NLP. “People must be like Shaw Lane – who!? The whole cup run has caught everyone’s imagination.
“The Barrow game was a whirlwind, I was a nervous wreck. When the final whistle went, it was such a euphoric moment. All I can compare it to is when Sergio Aguero won the Premier League for Man City – but tenfold!” After missing the live draw, because of a dodgy internet connection on his iPad, Wood is determined to enjoy next Saturday’s game, which is being broadcast live on BT Sport. “I can’t make predictions, but what I do know is that the lads will give everything. We have a squad with Football League experience, Wembley experience – the occasion won’t faze them. If Mansfield turn up and expect a stroll, they will be in for a shock. “This is the highlight of the club’s history. We have to cherish it, embrace it and enjoy it.”