THE CUP OF CHAMPIONS
Tom wants another crack at big guns
DE GEA, Falcao, Carrick, Fellaini, Di Maria and Van Persie – Manchester United’s stars found it so hard to get past Cambridge United at the first attempt they had to wheel out Wayne Rooney for the replay.
Boreham Wood midfielder Tom Champion was an integral part of the U’s midfield for the two matches in the FA Cup fourth round in Januay 2015.
Cambridge, then led by current Solihull Moors boss Richard Money and back in the League following their Non-League promotion and FA Trophy double, held Louis Van Gaal’s Premier League giants to a 0-0 draw at their Abbey Stadium.
Eventually United progressed with a 3-0 replay win at Old Trafford. But for Champion, who has Rooney’s shirt as a souvenir, it’s something he looks back on with great pride.
“Looking back it all feels a bit strange,” Champion told The
NLP. “I’ve got Rooney’s shirt hanging up and some mementoes to remind me it did actually happen because at the time it all seemed like a bit of a dream.
“They put out a really strong team – Rooney was really the only big name missing. We forced the replay and, again, they probably thought they couldn’t afford to go close so he was the last of the big stars to play.
“With all the hype ahead of the first game it was all set for a classic cup tie. It was a cold, wet, windy, Cambridge day and seeing those stars rattling around in the changing rooms at Cambridge, there was a feeling we could do something. Obviously the feeling is a bit different when you’re standing in the Old Trafford tunnel! But the whole time was unbelievable.”
Of course, when you’ve had a taste of being an FA Cup story there’s an appetite for more.
The former Bishop’s Stortford and Dartford man would love nothing more than a repeat performance with National League Wood when they take on League One Blackpool on Saturday.
“People will say it doesn’t get much better than Man United away but that whole experience makes you want to do it all over again,” Champion said.
“The Blackpool game will be a big day. They’re in really good form in League One, they’ve got a good team and good players, so we’re up against it. But you never know, hopefully we can force a result and go on a run.”
JUST CHAMPION: Tom Champion in action with Manchester United’s Angel Di Maria while at Cambridge