AFC Rushden & Diamonds boss Andy Peaks is using his FA Cup scrapbook to inspire his players ahead of their first qualifying round tie at Tividale tomorrow (Saturday).
Peaks reached the first round proper as a player, he was in the Diamonds side beaten 3-1 by Cardiff City at Nene Park in 1995, and the current team are five wins away from a possible clash against Football League opposition.
Diamonds head to the Black Country tomorrow with Peaks hoping his memories will motivate his players.
He said: “I’ve told the players about the Cardiff game and said: ‘That’s where the FA Cup can get you.’
“This is the only competition that gives us the possibility of playing a team from the Football League.
“You need a good draw and a bit of luck, but it’s realistic to think we can reach the first round proper.”
The draw hasn’t been that kind to Diamonds.
Tividale are from a lower league – the West Midlands Premier Division – but Peaks predicts a real battle in what he describes as “a tough environment.”
“I’ve had them watched a couple of times and it’s going to be a tough game in a tough environment," he said.
“They look like a typical Black Country team and the facilities and pitch probably won’t be as good as we are used to.
“It’s going to be completely different to what we’re used to.
“This is a massive game for them – and we have to treat it as a massive game for us as well.
“I’ve told the players that if they want to play against big teams in the FA Cup, they have to beat the smaller teams first.
“We want to be the underdogs in a big FA Cup match.”
Diamonds go into the match having extended their unbeaten start to the season with a 1-1 draw at AFC Kempston Rovers on Bank Holiday Monday.
Joel Gyasi gave Diamonds an early lead that was cancelled out by former Diamonds striker Jake Newman.
The point keeps Diamonds on top of the Evo-Stik South League East and Peaks added: “Kempston were top six last season, have had a good start and were at home, so I’m happy with the point.
“I’m realistic enough to know we’re not going to blow every team away and it’s a point nearer to where we want to be.”