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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 November 2007, 16:33 GMT
Tinson prepares for FA Cup hurrah
By Pete Oliver

Darren Tinson (right) battles with Manchester United's Louis Saha in 2006
I have kept saying that when my body tells me it's time to pack in I will

Darren Tinson (right)
Since his finest FA Cup moment in helping Burton Albion take Manchester United to a third-round replay two seasons ago, Darren Tinson's job description is no longer just 'footballer'.

But that has not stopped him from coming back for more and on Saturday, the veteran defender will line up in Altrincham's back four looking to knock out 2004 finalists Millwall.

"I possibly thought when we played Manchester United it would be my last season playing at that level and to finish on a high at Old Trafford would be magnificent," Tinson told BBC Sport.

"I have kept saying to myself that when my body tells me it's time to pack in I will. But the legs are still going and the head is still working so I am certainly carrying on.

"But this could be my last time in the FA Cup like this so I want to give it a good shot."

A centre-back with almost 500 senior appearances behind him, Tinson has long since had an eye on the future.

During spells in the Football League with Macclesfield and Shrewsbury, he studied towards becoming a physiotherapist.

Then at Burton, he worked on a temporary basis to fit around the Brewers' daytime training sessions before in April landing a full-time position within the NHS working in the spinal injury department of the orthopedic hospital in Oswestry.

It would be great to get to the third round again for the manager and the fans

Darren Tinson
Now the part-time status comes with the football but there is no drop in dedication. After a day's work, Tinson, who will be 38 next week, faces a 120-mile round trip to Altrincham to train twice a week with his team-mates.

"It can be hard but I wanted to keep playing and Altrincham gave me the chance to do that," he said.

His 'reward' has been a struggle against relegation from the Blue Square Premier for one of the few genuine part-time sides still playing at a level just one division below the Football League.

"I think the way it has panned out this season is that the part-time teams have struggled straight away. The part-time teams are getting better but so are the full-time ones," he said.

Salvation, however, could come in the shape of the Cup as Altrincham look to enhance their formidable record in the competition.

With 16 Football League scalps to their name - including a famous slaying of top-flight Birmingham City 21 years ago - the Robins are the Cup's most prolific giant-killers.

"I remember playing against Altrincham many years ago and they always seemed to be the team that was on the television on Match of the Day causing an upset," Tinson said.

"Despite our league position we are a confident bunch of players and I'm sure Graham (Heathcote) will get us fired up. They are not doing too well at the moment so hopefully we can cause another one."

Since losing to Manchester United in the final three years ago, Millwall have suffered a drastic fall from grace.

After relegation from the Championship in 2006, the Lions are currently in League One's bottom four and will visit Moss Lane - whose leafy Cheshire surrounds will contrast starkly with Millwall's South London home - with Kenny Jackett freshly appointed as their sixth manager in two and a half years.

Kenny Jackett
Kenny Jackett has just been named as Millwall's new manager
"That's the beauty of football. One year you're up there and the next you're down," said Tinson, whose adventure with Burton was matched by earlier runs to the third round with Macclesfield in 2002 and 2003.

"It would be great to get to that round again for the manager and the fans.

"Graham works very hard behind the scenes and he has been getting a bit of stick this season so I'd be delighted if we could get a result and turn it round for us and for him."

For Altrincham, the Cup has been king but even at their level league status is important.

This season, unlike the previous two, they do not want to rely on the demise of other clubs to stay up and Tinson hopes they can mirror Burton's exploits in more ways than one.

"That FA Cup run put us on a good bit of league form. We were down at the bottom of the league and struggling at the time," he said.

"But we played Leek and then Burscough and then we played Peterborough and got a result.

"That gave us the Manchester United tie at home and then the replay at Old Trafford and after that we kept going well in the league.

"I am hoping for a similar kind of effect this time. It would be great to get a result on Saturday and it would be nice if it turns our season round as well."

FA Cup first round draw
31 Oct 07 |  FA Cup
FA Cup first round results
25 Sep 07 |  Football
Altrincham sign Burton defender
03 Jun 07 |  Altrincham
Burton's Tinson hopes to play on
24 Apr 06 |  Burton Albion
Man Utd 5-0 Burton Albion
18 Jan 06 |  FA Cup
Burton Albion 0-0 Man Utd
08 Jan 06 |  FA Cup


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