FA Cup brings happy memories
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!).
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.