Chesterfield assistant Danny Webb knows Saturday’s trip to Chelsea will not only be emotional for supporters of the non-league club but also for his own family.
The magic of the cup was highlighted last month when the National League pace-setters were drawn against the Champions League holders in the third round.
It is not only the 91 places separating the teams which makes this tie special but the fact Webb will be following in the footsteps of his father Dave, an ex-Chelsea player and manager, when he sits in the Stamford Bridge dugout.
— Chesterfield FC (@ChesterfieldFC) January 3, 2022
“I rang him straight away and he couldn’t believe it,” the Spireites coach told the PA news agency.
“He was more excited and pleased for me really, especially having played there week in, week out during his career.
“Going on Saturday and seeing the stadium, the fans and everything won’t be a shock for him but seeing me involved as his son at the Bridge will be a very emotional time for him and my mum.”
Webb senior is synonymous with the 1970 FA Cup Final, where he scored the winning goal of the replay at Old Trafford to earn Chelsea a famous 2-1 victory over Leeds.
It was the west London club’s maiden triumph in a tournament they have won a further seven times but not the only silverware the Blues stalwart claimed in his six years there, with the European Cup Winners’ Cup also on his CV.
“People talk about the 1970 Final but there was also the Cup Winners’ Cup against Real Madrid in Athens and famous games with Manchester United and George Best,” the younger Webb pointed out.
“There are so many big memories he has at Chelsea, and we as a family have looking back, that are fantastic. It makes you very proud but the fact this is an FA Cup game and he is most famous for that FA Cup moment, it is very surreal.”
Webb junior was born in 1983 during the infancy of a managerial career for his father that took him back to Chelsea for a caretaker spell in the 1992-93 season, where he steadied the ship after an 11-game winless streak under predecessor Ian Porterfield.
The youngest coach in the family remembers the three-month spell well and is now forging his own path. Having spent the best part of a decade coaching at Leyton Orient, briefly managing the Os and helping the late Justin Edinburgh guide them to National League title success in 2019, everything has “fitted in place” for the 38-year-old in Derbyshire since his appointment in April.
He added: “Stamford Bridge was different when I was nine! It had the running track around the outside but still had the Shed End which made some noise.
“I can’t remember every moment but I do remember sitting there in the directors’ box and looking out thinking ‘this is a bit special’, so the ground has changed but the location hasn’t and I am sure memories will come flooding back when we’re there.”
While Saturday will be emotional for the Webb family, it will also represent an overdue reunion between Chesterfield and Chelsea.
Talk to the Spireites fans and they will tell you the teams should have met at Wembley in 1997 but a shot by Jon Howard that crossed the line in the FA Cup semi-final was not awarded. The then-third tier club, captained by Sean Dyche, were pegged back by Middlesbrough to draw 3-3 and the replay was won 3-0 by the Premier League side.
Chesterfield’s struggles during the ensuing 25 years are highlighted by the fact this is only the third time they have made the third round since but the arrival of current boss James Rowe in November 2020 has transformed them from relegation candidates to Football League hopefuls again.
“Sean Dyche hasn’t been in touch yet but his voice would scare me anyway so I am glad he hasn’t phoned,” Webb joked.
“What they do talk about here is if they had won and the goal been allowed, they would have played Chelsea in the final and here we are 25 years on.
“It means a lot to the people at the club and the diehard fans, who have seen the highs and lows.
“The Middlesbrough game is very sentimental and it will be emotional for those people, so it is fantastic for us staff and players but for the supporters it is great they have something to sing about.”
Webb “had a feeling” it would be Chelsea when predictions started on the coach back from an impressive 2-0 win at Salford in the second round.
After calling the draw correctly, can Rowe’s number two now see Chesterfield extending their unbeaten run to 15 matches?
“We are not silly, the players know they have to go to their maximum and beyond to get anything, but if we’re on it and Chelsea are not then who knows?” Webb added, with 6,000 supporters set to back the Spireites in London.
“I just hope the day doesn’t go too quick and it is one to remember in more ways than one.”