Emley’s heroes of ‘98 set to return for Manchester United match

The heroes of Emley AFC’s incredible FA Cup run of 1997-98 are getting back together.
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The majority of the players who gave West Ham United a huge scare will turn out for an Emley All Stars side to play against a Manchester United Legends team at the Fantastic Media Welfare Ground on Sunday, April 5.

On January 3, 1998, Emley famously came within eight minutes of forcing a replay against the Premier League side in the FA Cup third round. When Paul David headed home an Ian Banks corner in the 56th minute to equalise Frank Lampard’s opener, it appeared that one of the biggest shocks in the history of the cup could be on the cards.

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However, in the 82nd minute, John Hartson broke the hearts of the 2,200 Emley supporters as their gallant heroes fell to a 2-1 defeat.

Emley are preparing to host a Manchester United XI.Emley are preparing to host a Manchester United XI.
Emley are preparing to host a Manchester United XI.

West Ham manager Harry Redknapp was quoted at the time: “I’m just pleased we got away with it. At one stage I thought the nightmare was going to happen. Emley were excellent. They worked their socks off, played some good football and made some top class players look very ordinary.”

Current Emley assistant manager Steve Nicholson remembers the famous game: “We went to enjoy the day, but at the back of my mind was the thought that we could take a bit of a thumping.

“However, after the initial 15 minutes, we grew into the game and at times I felt that we out-passed West Ham.”

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He credits the manager at the time, Ronnie Glavin, for the team’s success that season. “Ronnie was brilliant at getting good players into the club. He prepared for every game meticulously, worked on defensive shape and set pieces, which were vital in achieving a number of wins in closely fought games.”

Steve considers that the 97-98 team are certainly “up there with one of the best sides I have played in” and he looks forward to renewing friendships with many players that he has not seen for a few years. He considers that the Manchester United Legends game will be “a great occasion for fans and players alike.”

The ‘98 heroes playing include goalkeeper and former Derbyshire wicketkeeper, Chris Marples, who performed heroics in penalty shoot-outs in the FA Cup first round against Morecambe and again in the second round against Lincoln City.

Also lined up are midfielder and former manager, Mark “Willy” Wilson and Michael Reynolds. The performances of Michael during the cup run brought him to the attention of Ayr United, of Scottish League Division One, who signed him in December, 1998.

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Deiniol Graham, a former Manchester United player, had scored important goals in the qualifying rounds that season against Belper and Nuneaton and continued his form with a goal away to Lincoln City in the second round, securing a replay. He and his strike partner in the cup run, Glynn Hurst are also making a return visit to Emley.

The ’98 heroes contingent will be completed by defenders Michael Thompson and Simon Jones and midfielders Dean Calcutt and Robert Tonks.

Tickets for the match, which kicks off at 2pm on April 5, are available now at The Wentworth in Emley, by phone on 01484 506940 or online through Eventbrite.co.uk