MARCUS BIGNOT has challenged his Chester side to create their own ‘FA Cup story’ ahead of their tricky tie at Kidderminster Harriers.
The draw for the fourth qualifying round has pitted Bignot against his former club, who ply their trade in National League North and will be dreaming of causing an early cup shock in this year’s competition.
Although failing to gain much success in the world’s most famous knockout competition in previous years as a player or manager, Bignot is all-too aware of how important the FA Cup is to the club in terms of exposure and prize money.
“For all clubs in non-league the importance of the FA Cup is clear,” said Bignot, who will include Harry White in his matchday squad after recovering from a hamstring strain.
“The reality is we’re not going to win the FA Cup but you can be a winner in so many different ways in this competition. The exposure the competition gives you and the financial reward it has is important for a club like ourselves.
“I’ve not got particular fond memories of the cup! The team I support (Birmingham City) has never done good in it.
“From a personal point of view I think I won goal of the round, or certainly celebration of the round when I was at Telford, that actually got me on Match Of The Day, it was called the headless chicken!
“There’s always a story to be told in the FA Cup, and it’s someone’s time this year so let’s hope it’s ours.”
Asked about Lincoln and Sutton’s progression to the latter stages of the cup last season, Bignot replied: “Those are both great examples of the exposure the cup can bring to clubs and in terms of revenue it’s great.
“There’s going to be a great atmosphere, for me it’ll probably be better than at Tranmere, because it’ll be a near full-house, it’s a non-league ground and we’ll have a massive away support.
“Our players will need no motivation because the atmosphere will drive our lads on. It’ll be two footballing teams and I can’t wait to try and get into the next round.”
Bignot played for Kidderminster in the early stages of his career, making 56 appearances in the 1996/97 season as the Reds finished runners-up in the Conference and won the Conference League Cup.
The 43-year-old explained how he was relishing a return to Aggborough for the first time as a manager.
“I had really good times there under the management of Graham Allner and chairman Dave Reynolds,” he continued.
“They were the biggest non-league club back then, certainly on and off the pitch. They gave me an opportunity to perform at the highest level of non-league and then to go straight into the Championship with Crewe. I’ll be forever grateful for that platform they gave me and giving me the chance to move on.
“I know a lot about them. I’ve worked closely with Colin Gordon setting up an academy for them in the Midlands. I’ve watched them quite a few times with my links.
“It’s the first time I’m going back and managing rather than watching so that’ll be nice.”
Bignot feels his players have gained ‘further confidence’ from last weekend’s goalless draw with Tranmere, played out in front of a cracking non-league crowd and backed by nearly 1,200 Blues fans, and the boss hopes his side will take those same levels of defensive discipline into Saturday’s clash.
“As staff we do our due dilligence but in terms of our players it’s focused around them,” he added.
“If we bring that organisation and concentration from Tranmere I think you’ve seen how we’ve evolved on the ball and I expect us to be on the ball more this Saturday.
“They got confidence from Tranmere and it’s put us in a good position. We’ve found a balance on and off the ball but we want to win by whatever means neccassary.
“Of course we want to dominate the ball first and foremost but if we can’t we’ve got to win in different ways. We showed last Saturday we weren’t going to lose that game, now have we got the balance to go and win a game too.
“Kidderminster are a footballing team too so hopefully it will only add to the spectacle that cup football brings.”
See full story in the Chester Leader