By Alec McQuarrie
Chasetown boss Mark Swann knows exactly what a dream FA Cup run feels like and is looking for another unlikely upset against St Ives Town on Saturday.
Swann was winding down his career and joined Charlie Blakemore’s Scholars two seasons after their famous televised first round proper replay against Oldham.
The last thing he expected was the eighth-tier club to go on and surpass the historic achievement by two rounds.
But after shock wins over sixth-tier sides Cambridge City, Nuneaton Borough, and League One Port Vale, they welcomed eventual semi-finalists Cardiff City to The Scholars Ground.
Swann, speaking ahead of this weekend’s third qualifying round trip to Pitching In Southern League Premier side St Ives Town, recalled: “I witnessed the atmosphere around the place and the buzz around the town. I was injured at the time, but it was still great to be around the dressing room.
“I’ve got my shirt with my name on the back in my old man’s wardrobe. Every now and again you get it out and have a look at it.
“I always tell people I’ve been at a non-league club that went out at the same stage as Liverpool and Aston Villa.”
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That was the last time the club got past the third qualifying round, but Swann is just one step away after masterminding a sensational 4-2 win over step two AFC Telford United this month.
Chasetown’s prize is a visit to Cambridgeshire, where Swann needs a repeat of the free-scoring display in the previous round.
“We’re a very, very good football team on paper,” said Swann. “A lot of our players have played in Step 2, so we knew that if we were on our game, we could turn over Telford on the day.
“We had a good feeling going into the tie. It just proves what sort of firepower we have and we created a lot more chances as well.
“But St Ives is another really tough tie. They’ve started the league really well and I know they’ve got an influx of new players this season.
“We’ll go there and might need a bit of luck on the day but we’re looking for another cup upset.”
Swann had more knock-out success over the weekend, squeezing past Boldmere St. Michaels in the FA Trophy 5-4 on penalties.
But just as he did when Jack Langston stepped up to score a last-minute spot-kick in the play-off semi-final last season, Swann couldn’t bear to watch the decisive moment.
He added: “I watched them all bar Ben Lund’s which was the last one. I look at the crowd. It’s weird. I probably used to close my eyes when I took them myself!
“But actually, Joey Butlin doesn’t like taking penalties, funnily enough, so I brought Ben on for him with ten seconds to go.
“I knew Lundy would be taking the last one, so it was a bit of that as well - have I made the right decision?”
Ladbrokes, with the support of its owner Entain, has launched a multi-million-pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports. For more details see: https://entaingroup.com/sustainability/pitching-in/