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 Thursday, 9 January, 2003, 06:47 GMT
The James Beattie column
James Beattie


We were given a few days off by gaffer Gordon Strachan after our FA Cup win over Spurs, and believe me, it was very welcome.

He reckoned we were running on empty after a hectic spell of games in a short space of time, and I must admit that the high tempo type of game we play does take a bit of a toll.

I wouldn't be surprised if he reports in injured on our first day back at training with a blister on his trigger finger

Having a few days off gave us a chance to just chill out a bit, although I have to admit that our competitive instincts did reveal its ugly nasty head at one point.

A few of us trooped over to Wayne Bridge's house one afternoon, where he has got the mother of slot car racing circuits.

We're not just talking a figure of eight, we're talking like 10 kits joined together in a 50metre circuit.

The rules are quite simple; the winner stays on until he's beaten.

Surprise, surprise, Bridgey was on just about all the time. He was virtually unbeatable, and I suspect that he spends a fair amount of time practising.

Southampton's England defender Wayne Bridge
Bridgey makes sure his trigger-finger is protected

I wouldn't be surprised if he reports in injured on our first day back at training with a blister on his trigger finger.

But Bridgey is now officially the Michael Schumacher of Scalextric.

It was a different type of driving ambition on show on Saturday in the FA Cup, and it was nice to put on a televised show for the whole country.

It's the greatest cup competition in the world - ask the lads at Shrewsbury or Farnborough

A lot has been made of how badly Spurs played, but I think that was down to us.

It's true in football that you can only play as well as the opposition let you and if Spurs were as bad as people thought, then a lot of that has to go down to the fact that we never let them play.

The game was never easy, and even when we were 4-0 up, we still worked hard.

That's the ethos in the club, and even when you're in a situation where the result is virtually sewn up, you have to continue to be as professional as possible.

Shrewsbury players celebrate their FA Cup win over Everton
Only Everton fans would not have enjoyed Shrewsbury's success

You don't take your foot off the pedal, and if you're 4-0 up, then you try and make it five.

There is no bigger fan of the FA Cup than me.

I certainly don't think there are too many players in the Premiership who think it's an inconvenience that gets in the way, despite what some managers or clubs might say.

It's the greatest cup competition in the world - you ask the lads at Shrewsbury or at Farnborough.

We got exactly what we wanted - a home draw, and believe me, whoever wins the replay, we won't be taking either Millwall or Cambridge lightly.

As Shrewsbury proved, everybody loves a Cup upset - except those on the receiving end, and we'll be determined that won't be us.

Southampton striker James Beattie writes for BBC Sport Online


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