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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 October 2006, 14:50 GMT 15:50 UK
Baker targets York giant-killing
By Pete Oliver

FA Cup
When I got told about the draw I thought they were winding me up

Newcastle Benfield Bay Plastics manager Paul Baker
Famed cup giant-killers York City may find the boot on the other foot this weekend as they seek to avoid becoming one of the shock victims of the FA Cup.

York, now plying their trade in the Conference, have been drawn away to Northern League side Newcastle Benfield Bay Plastics.

And barring their route to the first round proper is ex-City player Paul Baker, who is aiming to lead Newcastle to that stage for the first time in their history.

Baker played over 50 games for York during a successful career as a lower league striker and is relishing the prospect of setting his underdogs against his former club.

The Benfield boss told BBC Sport: "I was back down at York a couple of weeks ago for their game against Aldershot on a Friday night as an ex-player to have a crack with the sponsors and do the half-time draw.

"I had a few jokes with them and said that if we beat Guiseley we could get them in the next round, and lo and behold that's what happened.

"When I got told about the draw I thought they were winding me up, because everyone knew that was the one I wanted."

Baker scored 21 goals in 46 starts for York and was part of the City side that knocked Manchester United out of the League Cup in 1995.

"I was scoring goals and we were riding high at the time. It was a fantastic club and I really enjoyed my time there," he said.

"It is sad to see where they are now but they are working hard to get back into the Football League and it looks like they could manage it, if not this year then maybe next."

York City's Bootham Crescent home
Baker enjoyed some happy times as a player at York City
York were a solid Second Division (now League One) side in Baker's days and it was with some reluctance that he left Bootham Crescent.

Manager Alan Little had offered him a coaching role but Baker was still keen to play and Torquay gave him that chance.

Scunthorpe, Hartlepool (for a second time) and Carlisle also felt the big striker had something to offer as his playing career carried on until 2000 before he called it a day with 171 goals to his name.

Baker's first management job then came at Blyth Spartans before he took charge at Newcastle Benfield 14 months ago.

Last season the 43-year-old took his team to the last 16 of the FA Vase, and after rebuilding during the summer he has masterminded their best ever FA Cup run.

Newcastle have already won through four rounds to reach this stage, including notable victories at Guiseley and Conference North side Hyde United, to set up Saturday's big day.

"We have already been involved in a lot of games. We have had some tough games away from home but have come through them with leaps and bounds," added Baker, whose assistant is former York defender Paddy Atkinson.

"The whole place is buzzing and it is a fantastic opportunity.

"I don't know if everyone has taken it all in yet but I'm sure come Saturday when everyone is pouring through the gates like never before, they will realise what a day it is.

"Everyone is working hard behind the scenes to make it a great day and hopefully a successful one."

We need a performance which will do us and the Northern League proud

Paul Baker
Benfield are hoping to attract a capacity crowd of 2,000 and with Newcastle United not kicking off until tea-time, Baker hopes many fans will take in the chance to watch two games in a day.

York have taken a quota of 700 tickets for the tie, which is worth 10,000 to the winners who also enter Saturday evening's first-round draw.

City need the prestige and the potential income from a successful cup run themselves as manager Billy McEwan continues his revival of the North Yorkshire club on a tight budget.

Once Cup semi-finalists as a Third Division side in 1955, even memories of York's famous 1985 win over Arsenal must be fading for the club's die-hard fans.

Joining the League clubs in the hat for the next round would provide a welcome tonic but Baker's boys, who boast tricky wide players in Mark Atkinson and Mark Rasmussen, are after another scalp.

"I have done a bit of homework as I'm sure Billy has done on us as I think he watched our League Cup game the other week," said Baker, who is also head of footballing coaching at East Durham College.

"I am aware of what is in store. It's just a case of whether the players are. But it's cup football and if we play our game, who knows?

"They will certainly know they have been in a game and come four o'clock on Saturday I want to hold my head high.

"If we can come out with a performance and a win that would be fantastic. But we need a performance which will hopefully do us and the Northern League proud."

SEE ALSO
Altrincham dream of Cup success
25 Oct 06 |  FA Cup
York manager threatens to quit
16 Oct 06 |  York City
FA Cup results
17 Oct 06 |  FA Cup
Spartans plan FA Cup upset
22 Oct 03 |  FA Cup


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