Manager Graham Westley admits he is excited at the start of this year’s FA Cup competition.
The North End boss spoke ahead of the first round clash with Yeovil Town and was delighted to be able to embrace the Club’s history in the competition, 125 seasons since they first reached the final and 75 years since they last won it.
However, he admitted that he was now interested in making his own history as he awaited taking charge of the Lilywhites for the first time in the Budweiser sponsored competition.
“I love the FA Cup,” he said. “It is special. Great things happen and personally I’ve had some wonderful experiences in the FA Cup.
“When I was in non-league football with Farnborough we were to the fourth round and pulled Arsenal out of the hat. We played the double winners at Highbury and although getting beaten 5-1 doesn’t sound magnificent, when you take into account we had ten men for most of it, we did alright and played very well on the day and a great experience for the club and the lads.
“A couple of years ago we got to the third round and knocked Newcastle out, which was terrific. To get the opportunity to draw a big gun and have a crack at them at home is always fun. Then last year, in the game before I came here to Preston, we knocked the Championship winners Reading out in round three, on their own patch. So you get some great opportunities in the Cup to have some really good moments and I love it.
“In my programme notes at the weekend I talk about my personal experiences and love for the competition and the fact that I am at a club now where we can call ourselves winners of the trophy. To have that sort of history is fantastic. The FA Cup means a lot to everyone, especially clubs in the lower leagues.
“You have to embrace the history of the football club that you are a part of. But it is your job to create new history. Sometimes you can get stuck in the past. Looking back at what we were is not going to help us be something in the future, but you have to embrace what you’ve been and remember how fondly and close to people’s hearts the people and the history is.
“I read a statement that Tony Mowbray said the other night, that ‘it is his job to look after the people of Middlesbrough’ and it is my job to look after the people of Preston, to make sure they can be proud of their football team and that they have great moments supporting the football team. The journey that we are on is one that we intend, as a ground, to ensure that people love what we do for them and that they have great time with us.”
The tie sees North End take on Yeovil Town, the last side the Lilywhites defeated on home turf, and whilst the gaffer is looking for a repeat result, he admits it cannot be compared for the league clash.
“It doesn’t matter who you play in the FA Cup. You are not going to get an easy passage, because everyone is fighting for a place in the next round. Whoever you play, you are going to have a tough game.
“The beauty for us is that we have a home tie. Home advantage is not called that for no reason and we know the venue well. We are fortunate to have that on our side, but that isn’t going to win us the game.
“What will win us the game is our efforts on Saturday afternoon. We are going to have to be at the top of our game to make sure that we go through.”
And the manager could go into the game with a practically full squad, other than the suspension of John Welsh, with injuries starting to clear: “Welshy is out at the weekend. Funnily enough he has a little knock that would have kept him out anyway, so it was the right time for him to get that suspension.
“The door opens and there are two or three lads banging on my door with their performances.
“We had a training ground game against Blackpool on Tuesday and there were some good performances and someone will come in. We’ve had three or four off the training ground this week, but they are all expected to train, so we should be in a good place by the weekend.”
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