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FA Cup brings happy memories

Gavin Strachan | 08:56 UK time, Monday, 3 November 2008

Hi, hope you are all well.

I would like to start off by thanking you all for the reaction to last week's blog concerning the pressure on young kids playing football. It is obviously a topic that we all feel very strongly about and is no doubt an issue that we will discuss again. It got me thinking about my own childhood and how lucky I was.

Contrary to what some people might think there was no pressure placed on me despite coming from a "football" family, in fact it was quite the opposite. Plenty of people might have imagined my old man prancing up and down the touchline at my Under-10s match, and making himself heard in such ways as slaughtering the ref but nothing could be further from the truth.

He was very calm and stayed in the background (hard to believe I know) but it is only now that I am in the same position with my little boy that I realise how difficult that must have been. I have only been to a couple of his games and already I have had to fight the urge to shout on to the little man, but so far so good.

This weekend heralds the first round proper of the FA Cup and it is a competition that holds fond memories for me. I made my full debut in an FA Cup fourth round tie for Coventry away to local rivals Aston Villa in front of 40,000 people. Talk about being thrown in at the deep end!

Looking back the game itself was just a blur but we managed a 1-0 victory with a goal from Viorel Moldovan. It was the first time Coventry had won at Villa for a long time (anyone know the exact length of time?). I remember thinking after the game that this football thing was a piece of cake. Ten years later, I realise that I underestimated it just a tad!

I also underestimated just how much this victory meant to the people of Coventry. To this day people still stop me to share their memories of the game and it makes me extremely proud to be associated with it.

There was some excellent players in that Coventry City squad - Darren Huckerby, Dion Dublin, Gary McAllister, David Burrows and big Oggy - Steve Ogrizovic - to name but a few. Rather than look back with regrets on the fact that I could not sustain playing at this level for longer in my career. I prefer to reflect on how privileged I was to play with these players at an elite level of the game. A level which thousands of people aspire to but only a fortunate few achieve.

Ironically, Notts County will begin their FA Cup campaign this season away to Sutton United, who themselves play a large part in the history of Coventry City but for all the wrong reasons. For those with short memories, Sutton United caused one of the biggest cup shocks of all time by beating Coventry in the third round back in 1989 (that Google certainly comes in handy!).

Sutton United's players celebrate beating Coventry City in the FA Cup in 1989

We need to get back to winning ways after a run of three straight defeats but these first-round ties are notoriously difficult, especially away from home, and we will certainly not underestimate Sutton.

My rehabilitation is coming on really well. I started running earlier in the week and as the week progressed I was nearing full-pace running - which is comparable to most people's half pace! I am very lucky to have such a good physio looking after me in Paul Smith (he told me to say that) but the hardest thing at this stage of the rehab is not to get too carried away.

I simply cannot afford another setback - the season is rapidly disappearing and I need to get as many games in as possible. It would be even better if I could get back playing and Notts County are still in the Cup.


  • 1. At 10:13am on 03 Nov 2008, CantonasMate wrote:


    another excellant blog mate. Really interesting to hear about your dad and how he was as when you were younger. Darlo fan here- really impressed with how we started this season, whats your thoughts? also - who would you say the most talented players in league 2 are?

    ps. what gets harder to catch the faster you run?

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  • 2. At 10:32am on 03 Nov 2008, SkyBlueSpikes wrote:

    Once again brilliant Blog mate!
    I remember Coventry's 1-0 win at Villa park that day - it was a bit special! It was my birthday and my first trip to Villa Park, a ground I don't think we'd ever won at. As a Coventry fan you alway's try to be optimistic but it was a dream tie, a local derby in the FA Cup, and a dream result. If I remember correctly George Boateng took the shot that was saved by the Villa keeper but Moldovan was there to put the ball in the back of the net! Magic!
    If you look at the players Coventry have had over the years its an ever impressive list of top names, McAllister, Keane, Dublin, Bellamy, Kirkland, Oggy - I just hope one day the club will be back where it belongs in the top flight!
    The FA Cup is a great compeition and gives every club the chance of beating anyone on the day!
    Keep up the good work with the blogs!

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  • 3. At 10:42am on 03 Nov 2008, CantonasCollar79 wrote:

    Another great blog - a weekly treat amongst the leviathon of bloggery out there!

    Glad to hear that your rehab is going well and you're on the road to recovery. The F.A. Cup is always a great competition to get excited about; my friend is a football coach, he helped Slough through to the first round proper a few years ago and some fans don't realise how many prelimianry rounds there are - it was a slog for him!

    Just to say also that your writing is very engaging. I hope all goes well with your foray into journalism. I'm a novelist myself, and know that any writing is a very difficult thing to do, and it takes a lot of dedication and effort so best of luck.

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  • 4. At 10:58am on 03 Nov 2008, The Y wrote:


    I'm a first time reader of this blog and I just wanted to say WOW a level-headed, modest footballer, if I had'nt read it with my own eyes I'd never have believed it, thanks for restoring some of my faith in football players...

    I wish you a speedy recovery Gavin and good luck to you boys for the rest of the season I live in Nottingham myself and have been to watch your boys on more than a few occations, although for my sins I'm a Spurs fan...



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  • 5. At 11:07am on 03 Nov 2008, geordiecount wrote:

    Hi Gavin

    I've been reading th e blogs every week with interest, but not commented until now. You talking about your dad certainly stokes a few memories of my own father, who was not quite so reserved... in fact once I'd got to 14 I had to ban him from coming so vociferous was he in his opinions (mostly directed at me !!). I've also seen the same from most other parents on the sidelines when I've been coaching kids football myself, to the point where I asked parents not to come down as their kids were in tears in the changing rooms afterwards.... I now dont bother coaching kids, which is a shame, and focus on a local league side, and ladies football

    Nice comments about Big Oggy too. I met him while I did my FA prelim course with Cov City (I was a student at Cov Uni at the time), along with a few other players including Brian Borrows, Kenny Sansom. Great Bloke !

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  • 6. At 11:11am on 03 Nov 2008, scbcambcobbler wrote:

    As for Cantonas mate, the answer is your breath, surely? As a cobblers fan, I dread the first round draw with memories of Canvey Island a couple of years ago and Yeovil (before they were a league club) before then. It´s great for the non-league clubs to draw league sides in the hope of winning, but as a fan of a small league club, it always makes me nervous. For this reason Im happy we have drawn Leeds away. Maybe we can steal the win as the underdog as we did against Bolton in the league cup and so nearly did against Sunderland (losing on penners).

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  • 7. At 11:50am on 03 Nov 2008, daveorbinson wrote:

    Great blog Gav, always enjoy reading it.

    It was 1988 though Sutton United beat us in the 3rd round as holders, not 1989!

    I was reading just the other week in the Coventry City programme about Moldovan scoring against Villa, think it was one of the only goals he scored for us!

    Just a quick question, out of that squad you mentioned, circa 2000, who did you rate as the best player (poss keane or mcallister) and who had the most influence on your own career?



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  • 8. At 11:56am on 03 Nov 2008, daveorbinson wrote:

    sorry stand corrected! just looked it up on google.

    could have sworn they beat us as holders though.

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  • 9. At 12:04pm on 03 Nov 2008, Lostboy wrote:

    Interesting comments about your father and your experience of him when you were a young footballer.

    I have run a local youth football side for a long time and have been fortunate enough to have some of my players selected by local acadamies. One Sunday I went to watch one of them performing for Southampton and whilst listening to various parents voicing their ill-educated and opinionated tripe from the sidelines was stunned to see your father on a few yards further back, chatting quietly with Georges Prost and a few other coaches not getting involved in the emotion of it at all.

    It was a lesson to a lot of people that A. the first team manager was interested in the youth set-up even down at that age (it was an U14 game) and B. that his attitude was so much different at that level (as was his coaches) than what was seen on the sidelines at most youth games!

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  • 10. At 12:23pm on 03 Nov 2008, Corkit wrote:

    Thanks Gav!

    Not only do you remind me of one of the best days in 45 years supporting the Sky Blues, but one of the (many) nightmares!

    Needless to say I was at both games, but even then I was sane enough to realise that as a CCFC fan life was normally going to be a lot less emotional, apart from the 9 or 10 last game escapes to stay in the top flight. Did you play n any of those? [I ought to add that I drank slightly too many pints on that January evening in 1989, but at least all my London based mates didn't try to talk to me!]

    On a different subject, how do you feel about the lack of a real competition in the premier league? Do you think that the money from TV should be spread out a bit more to make that league more of a competition like the lower divisions.

    I must be honest, I wish we could have other teams up at the top. I know that historically some clubs have dominated for shortish periods, but the tetrachy in the Premier League has now gone on for 15 or 16 years. It is just not good - in my opinion the lack of hope results in a lack of ambition, and so many dull games. If relegation was less punative financially then clubs might be less scared and they might just try to change things.

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  • 11. At 12:40pm on 03 Nov 2008, Dave Smith wrote:

    Good stuff Gavin but please WHY do we have all these Cov fans here.
    Muggs where are you when we need you


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  • 12. At 12:52pm on 03 Nov 2008, King-Dion wrote:

    I have never forgiven Sutton for the humiliation, so I will really be rooting for Notts County in this round of the F.A. Cup.

    Yes Coventry did have some great players at the time, but I disagree about Gary McAllister. He was a very good player, but only when he wanted to be.

    He arrived on a four year contract and for the first three years looked worth nothing like the four million he cost from Leeds. In his final season though he was brilliant, because he was playing for a new contract. In fact he played so well that Liverpool nicked him on a free transfer! Clever management there, or what!

    Good to hear your recovery from injury is on track. Thanks again for a first class blog.

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  • 13. At 12:55pm on 03 Nov 2008, SuperStrikerShivam wrote:

    The FA Cup First Round Proper should be good!

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  • 14. At 1:17pm on 03 Nov 2008, PicksyJ wrote:

    This might sound like an odd one, but I wanted to ask a question about the blogging/journalism bit rather than the footy: do you hunt out and select the stuff you want to link to, or does someone come along later and do that?

    And if it's you - I'm guessing it is, to be honest - how hard is it to hunt down the 'perfect link' to illustrate your point?

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  • 15. At 1:57pm on 03 Nov 2008, giveusbackourpoints wrote:

    It was good to hear about your Dad. We've all stood next to an idiot urging his 9 year old to "bring him down". Most are living their failed dreams through their kids, which of course, your Dad didn't need to do.

    My favourite FA Cup memory? Easy. Standing behind the goal in '71 as AFC Bournemouth, playing their first FA Cup match with the new name, put 11 past Margate, Ted MacDougall scoring 9. It made up for the previous year when Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic beat Oxford City 8-1 in a 1st round replay only to lose 1-0 at home in the next round to non-league Yeovil. Ah, the FA Cup!!!

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  • 16. At 2:56pm on 03 Nov 2008, cossie (LUFC) wrote:

    Good luch at Gander Green Lane. I was at the Sutton v Coventry game all those years ago (Sutton are my local non league team) and I think that win set Sutton United back years! All of a sufdden they thought they could be a league side instead of a decent non-league outfit. 10 years later they are now 3 divisions below the football league and going nowhere!
    On another note how do you spend your free time? Are you a golfer or are you taking coaching badges or is it the journalism that takes up your time away from football and your family?

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  • 17. At 3:44pm on 03 Nov 2008, partyparkins wrote:

    another great blog gavin!
    was wondering if it would be ok to get in contact regarding my new company! basically...we need someone to right an article on it and i was thinking, as youre doing a journalist course...would you be interesting in doing it?
    also...would you be interested in bringing your team for a free coaching session? or having a myself or another one of my coaches come out to do a session as this is an area i want to expand my business into!

    Ben Parkins

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  • 18. At 4:52pm on 03 Nov 2008, SMB - big borucs wrote:

    average blog.

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  • 19. At 5:19pm on 03 Nov 2008, daviddunford wrote:

    This Saturday I've got one of those difficult clashes of loyalty to cope with. The three teams I support are Southampton, Notts and Sutton; Saints I inherited from my father, Sutton I watched most weeks as a teenager, and I've lived in Nottingham for 21 years. I was at Meadow Lane when Sutton nearly shocked Notts in (I think) 1993; I stood outside the ground when Notts humbled Southampton a couple of years ago (I had flown back from Rome for the match, but the flight was delayed). I can't get down to Surrey on Saturday, but I'll be at Meadow Lane if there's a replay. I suppose my first, older, loyalty will be to Sutton!
    Thanks for the blog; it's good to hear the viewpoint of a player who isn't an over paid prima donna and actually has something to say.

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  • 20. At 5:33pm on 03 Nov 2008, Gavin Strachan wrote:

    Post 3 . Appreciate the comments . Thanks

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  • 21. At 5:35pm on 03 Nov 2008, Gavin Strachan wrote:

    Post 7 . Robbie keane has to be the best . Unbelievable feet and a great bloke . Gary mac was probably the biggest influence on me as a player . We played in the same position and I learned an awful lot from him.

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  • 22. At 5:39pm on 03 Nov 2008, Gavin Strachan wrote:

    post 10 . The premier league is most certainly becoming dangerously predictable . There was a lot talked about the obvious gulf between the Premier League and SPL but the gulf between the top four of the premier league and the rest is in danger of becoming just as big.

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  • 23. At 5:40pm on 03 Nov 2008, Gavin Strachan wrote:

    post14 . I dont know how they do it . The words are obviously mine but as for the blue links ?.

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  • 24. At 5:42pm on 03 Nov 2008, Gavin Strachan wrote:

    Post 16 . The journalism course is taking up most of my free time . Within the course I have to include work placements and assignments . Not forgetting that shorthand (horrible) . The rest of my time is just being a dad .

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  • 25. At 11:07pm on 03 Nov 2008, Saccas wrote:

    excellent blog,

    being a Wycombe fan the FA cup will always hold a special place in my heart. I was in the infamous Holte end when we got to the semi finals in 2001, only losing to Liverpool 2-1.

    But thats the magic of the FA cup, isnt it? Barnsley last season, Wycombe aforementioned,Cheserfield in 97 (i believe), obviously Wimbledon in the 80's.

    The best cup competition in the world. Irreplaceable, Romantic, just simply amazing.

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  • 26. At 10:46am on 04 Nov 2008, BBC Sport wrote:

    Hi PicksyJ comment number 14.

    Just to answer your question, all Sport Blogs are created in the BBC Sport office by our staff.

    We select the links that appear within the Blogs and try to select URLs of interest and obviously hope to make them relevant to the Blog in question.

    In certain circumstances the Blog creators may suggest links that they would like included.

    Hope that answers your question, many thanks.


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  • 27. At 12:10pm on 04 Nov 2008, cov_sky wrote:

    Gav, Didn't you play a 30 yard pinged pass to Boateng who then went on a mazy run that ended in the goal?

    If I'm right it was a beautiful pass and you stood out that day as player to look out for, pity it never worked out for you at Cov as you wrote a little bit of history that day.

    Good luck for the rest of the season and I hope beat Sutton at the weekend, not the sort of result you want as a 9 year old living in a village of bluenoses and Vile fans.

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  • 28. At 12:21pm on 04 Nov 2008, U8257677 wrote:

    Hi Gavin, great blog as per usual.

    I have written a letter for Ian McParland asking for advice on how to get into coaching and management, do you know if he or the club reply?

    On that note, do you have any tips for me?

    Thanks in advance

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  • 29. At 2:08pm on 04 Nov 2008, superoldleeds wrote:

    Just joined, but have been reading your blog for a while now and on the whole I have enjoyed them.
    Intresting to read about the influence you say Gay Mac had on you. I read recently that Gerrard said that he thought he knew everything until Gary Mac joined Liverpool!
    Gary is doing a great job at Leeds, how do you think he will progress has a manager?

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  • 30. At 2:29pm on 04 Nov 2008, Ganderdave wrote:

    Well not too much luck because we're on the way again - Sutton United that is. We are doing well in the cups and Dave Osborne (Point 7) - you are wrong. It was 1989 and you were not the holders. It's a date indellibly printed in our minds.

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  • 31. At 5:01pm on 04 Nov 2008, GeoPaul67 wrote:

    Hi Gavin,
    I have only just joined but I have been enjoying your blog now & then. I wonder if you can tell me: How many times you and your Dad were on the pitch at the same time as players?

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  • 32. At 7:28pm on 04 Nov 2008, yowg8ynwa wrote:

    hey gavin
    ive always read your blog, its really good
    keep up the good work u'll be a writer in no time

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  • 33. At 9:55pm on 04 Nov 2008, RRFC1883 wrote:

    Great blog Gav!!

    I have only ever been to one FA Cup game in my life(Sunderland v Palace 2 or 3 years ago) - but I still rate it as one of my favourite days as a Sunderland fan.

    Anyone who says the FA Cup has lost its magic could do with a little reality check. Fair enough, the further the competition goes the less shocks that happen - which is actually why I prefer the earlier rounds as opposed to the semis and the final.

    Who could forget when little Burscough knocked out Gillingham? Or when Yeovil pulled off another famous FA Cup shock?

    The FA Cup has more magic now than it ever has had.

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  • 34. At 3:47pm on 07 Nov 2008, Spinpass73 wrote:

    Hi Gavin,

    Thanks so much for arranging the signed shirt for tonights fundraising sports dinner for the Willow Foundation. I'll make sure Bob Wilson knows where it's come from and collect it from Kev when you get back from Sutton.

    Good luck to NC tomorrow and thanks again, I really appreciate it!



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  • 35. At 7:26pm on 07 Nov 2008, coolreader1 wrote:

    Hi Gav

    I have read all of your blogs.Really riveting stuff.To be honest I can never wait until the next installment.

    I have followed your career with great interest from your young days at Cov right up to where you are now an old man at Notts County.

    Can I ask why you think you keep getting these niggling injuries?Is it age related?

    I played until I was 34/35 at a poor level but age did catch up with me in the end.

    Please respond

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  • 36. At 11:08am on 08 Nov 2008, maso_06 wrote:

    Hi Gav,

    Read the blog and love your insights into Notts County. I am currently living in Australia and support County- reading the gamecasts on espn. I dont watch the games, obviously, but from reading comments on messageboards I feel we miss you when you've been getting injured. So I hope the rehab goes well and your back playing! Like yourself I am also studying to be a journo!

    All the best!

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  • 37. At 08:06am on 10 Nov 2008, Joe Blogger wrote:


    You mention how your father wasn't too hard on you as a kid developing your footballing ability. You also mention that you couldn't sustain playing at a higher level for long.

    I just wonder is there a connection? If your father had maybe pushed you more as a kid, do you think you may have developed more a top level playing career?

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  • 38. At 11:25am on 18 Nov 2008, andypstevens wrote:

    Hi Gavin

    Great blog, really enjoy reading it.

    I actually saw you play as a kid and remember it very fondly, since my dad Peter Stevens was coaching you at the time. I've now a son of my own and contemplating youth coaching myself. Its funny how football, at what ever level is in your blood.

    Keep up the great blogging and good luck with the injury and future career.


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