ONE RED has been there and done it in the FA Cup - but Gordon Armstrong still loves it when the competition comes around.
The Stanley midfielder played in the 1992 FA Cup final when his Sunderland side lost to Liverpool in front of 80,000 at Wembley. It is the earliest stage he has ever entered the competition with Stanley at home in the fourth qualifying round against Conference rivals Leigh RMI on Saturday. But he still feels the same buzz with cup days.
"Every time the FA Cup comes around, it is exciting," said Armstrong. "Accrington Stanley are not going to win the FA Cup but we want to get as far as possible and get a run going. To get into the first round against league opposition and then the third round when the top sides come into it would be a dream come true.
"For me, it is important as it could be one of my last chances to be involved in it and it would be lovely to get a little run together. My memories of the FA Cup final are not good - it is nice to get there and all the build up but it is hard to lose.
"And it is not going to be easy against Leigh. They have lost their manager and are a decent side although we have beaten them earlier this season. But if we play like we can, then we should be in the draw for the first round."
Stanley skipper Peter Cavanagh said: "We have all been expecting Gordon to come in and show us his medal - but he hasn't yet! But we are all willing to listen to anyone who has experience like him - and we all want to test ourselves at least in the first round."
The draw for the first round - which includes the Second and Third Division club - is made at 5.05pm on Saturday with Stanley/Leigh number 59. And if Stanley do get through, they will also be celebrating a £10,000 windfall for the victory.
"Financially we will come out of it well with a win," said chairman Eric Whalley. "But more importantly, a win is good for the club as a whole. This is the furthest I have ever been in this competition and we haven't even played a game yet!"
Former Red Mark Patterson resigned as manager of Leigh last week after a run of nine games without a win which has seen them drop into the bottom three. Phil Starbuck, former manager of Hucknall Town, has taken temporary charge.
"People will make us favourites because we are higher in the league and beat them 4-1 earlier this season but it is all about the day in the FA Cup," said manager John Coleman. "There is always so much glory connected with the cup and it is a big financial kick - which is a big incentive for us and Leigh.
"It isn't ideal to play a Conference side or a club who has just lost their manager - but it is not our job to worry about them. We know if we play as well as we can, we are a match for anyone in the Conference."
Striker Justin Jackson could make his first start as Coleman makes some decisions following seventh-placed Stanley's first loss in 11 games against Exeter on Saturday. "Justin hasn't come here to warm the bench and he has got to do his best to make it a difficult choice for me."
Winger Dean Calcutt, who is recovering from a fractured wrist, should get a run out for the reserves on Friday at Southport. Meanwhile, the deal to bring Hull defender Steve Burton in on loan is temporarily on hold.
- STANLEY striker Brian Welch has moved to UniBond side Rossendale United to play regular first team football.
- THE Reds have a bye in the first round of the Lancashire FA Marsden Challenge Trophy - the trophy they won in 2001.
- FORMER Red Liam Watson has taken over as manager of UniBond side Southport.