THE CUP OF CHAMPIONS

Tom wants an­other crack at big guns

The Non-League Football Paper - - FA CUP FIRST ROUND PREVIEW - By Matt Bad­cock

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.

Dream

“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.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

JUST CHAMPION: Tom Champion in ac­tion with Manch­ester United’s An­gel Di Maria while at Cam­bridge

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