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Last Updated: Friday, 30 November 2007, 07:34 GMT
Railway on track for Cup dream
By Pete Oliver

Stephen Davey celebrates
Railway celebrate Stephen Davey's Cup strike against Bristol City
Date: Sunday 2 December
Kick-off: 1310 GMT
Venue: Station View, Harrogate
Coverage: Live on BBC One at 1300 GMT
Live on 5 Live from 1310 GMT
Listen live on the BBC website

FA Cup lore dictates that the minnows normally get only one chance to record a famous upset.

But for Harrogate Railway another bite at the cherry beckons as they prepare to take on Mansfield Town at their Station View ground on Sunday.

Five years ago Railway's run to this stage was derailed by Bristol City but after battling through six wins already, the lowest ranked team left in the competition has again earned the chance of a place in round three for the first time in its history.

"If we could get into that I couldn't put it into words how it would feel," said long-serving general secretary Mick Gray, who has been involved with the club for 25 years.

"After Bristol City I thought we would never see it again.

"I have seen bad times and good times and this is a good time. It's really starting to kick in now and you can see everyone's eyes lighting up."

Harrogate's latest run started way back in September in the preliminary round when they won at Northern League side Esh Winning.

Since then the UniBond League Division One (North) side has beaten Chester-le-Street, Leigh RMI, Matlock Town, Harrogate Town and Droylsden.

Harrogate FC
Harrogate welcome another league side to their Station View ground

Knocking out neighbours and Blue Square North leaders Harrogate Town was a notable coup and, remarkably, Railway have also survived longer than Yorkshire comrades Leeds United and York City.

"After Harrogate Railway I support Leeds. My son rang me up and asked if I realised we had gone further in the Cup than Leeds. It didn't click at the time," said Gray.

"When the draw was made there were only a few balls left, including us and Leeds.

"When they came out I thought we were going to get them but I'm glad we didn't now because we would have been going to Hereford."

Railway manager Vince Brockie takes no pleasure in out-lasting Leeds, having started his career at Elland Road.

But the Scot, 38, who played just a handful of senior games before joining Doncaster Rovers, is relishing the opportunity of facing Football League foes again in front of a sell-out crowd of 1,500 and the BBC One cameras.

He said: "For us to play against League opposition and a team of professionals is a dream for our players, who want to be in that position themselves.

"Some of our players might have just missed their way a bit and some could go and play in higher places than now."

According to Brockie, who works as a builder, taking Harrogate into round three would be like putting a man on the moon. He is, though, ready to reach for the stars.

He added: "I just think that for any game if you don't think you can win it, what's the point of playing? Whatever level you're playing at you've got to think you can win the game.

"I saw a comment from Wayne Rooney about a recent European game when he said it was almost too easy. We are not like that. We are the kind of team that will make it hard for them. We will give anybody a game."

Mansfield, struggling near the foot of League Two and yet to win away this season, would not expect anything else and will be well aware of their potential role as fall-guys with the tie being screened live.

You've got to have a dream and our dream is to get into the third round

Railway secretary Mick Gray

Both clubs will bank 75,000 as a result, taking Harrogate's total revenue from their Cup success well into six figures - money that will be used to help finance a planned new development of their ground which the club, founded by railway workers in 1935, bought from LNER for 1,500 shortly after the Second World War.

"If we manage it well we should never have financial problems again," said Rob Northfield, who has been club chairman since April.

The 54-year-old, whose business interests lie in motivational speaking and executive development, was once a junior player at Leyton Orient and previously owned Leeds-based non-league side Guiseley.

And the Guiseley link at Station View is strong with Brockie and assistant Dave Morgan both previously Wembley winners with the club from their 1991 FA Vase success.

Morgan's sons Rob and Matthew are now part of the Railway side along with another set of brothers, Scott and Lee Ryan.

Lee's employment as a waiter and part-time model offers the headline writers a potential goldmine, while the Harrogate side also has the traditional smattering of students, teachers, builders, surveyors and small businessmen in their part-time youthful squad.

Alongside their day jobs they can train only once or twice a week, fixtures permitting.

But Brockie's boys have still shown the ability and energy to see off four teams ranked in higher leagues and the Stag hunt is on.

"The players run for fun and that's what has surprised a few teams and might get that upset BBC Sport are hoping for.

"You've got to have a dream. People dream of holidays, career opportunities and financial stability. We have a dream and our dream is to get into the third round," added Northfield.

Harrogate Railway 2-0 Droylsden
10 Nov 07 |  FA Cup


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