Wimbledon’s Wembley goal-scorer Lawrie Sanchez; Chesterfield’s semi-final hero John Duncan, and Arsenal’s goalkeeping icon Bob Wilson all have one thing in common – they are all FA Cup heroes who begun their playing careers at Loughborough University.
And although the humble surroundings of Quorn FC’s Farley Way Stadium may not quite live up to the hallowed turf of Wembley Stadium, on Saturday Loughborough’s current crop of non-league footballers will be looking to emulate the success of their historic predecessors, as they bid to reach the second qualifying round of the FA Cup for the first time in the University team’s history.
Loughborough’s tie with Quorn represents the furthest the university side has ever been in the competition, and now the Maroons are aiming to go another step further in their pursuit of FA Cup glory.
Loughborough have faced two ties already in this year’s FA Cup, with the withdrawal of Friar Lane & Epworth from the competition seeing them through the first preliminary round. This was followed by a 4-1 thrashing of Godmanchester Rovers, ensuring a place in the first qualifying round proper for the first time.
Now Stuart McLaren’s men are merely three rounds away from a tie with a reputable Blue Square Premier Division side, and four rounds stand between them and a potential dream away tie at Hillsborough, Brammall Lane or The Valley in the first round proper.
Saturday’s opponents Quorn needed a replay to overcome Oadby Town in the previous round, yet as a Northern Premier League side they will go into the match as favourites, with their league status one step above the Midland Alliance League which Loughborough compete in.
However, Loughborough’s early season top scorer, Daniel Nti, believes Loughborough can overcome the odds; speaking to Label he declared:
“With a lot of effort and heart, there’s no reason we can’t do it. If we are on our game we’ll be hard to beat. Personally I’d be happy with a Football League side – that will be a dream come true”.
So just six rounds separate Loughborough students from the prospect of packing out the away at The Emirates Stadium or Old Trafford in the competitions’ third round. Is it too soon to dare to dream? Loughborough will be going out to prove the doubters wrong on Saturday afternoon.
The last university team to reach the first round proper was Bath University’s Team Bath in 2002, when they lost to Mansfield in a live BBC televised fixture.