Over the years we’ve earned a reputation for overcoming the FA Cup odds, but this time around Johnnie Jackson is determined that we’re not the ones on the receiving end of a shock.
Club President Dickie Guy was in goal when non-league Wimbledon won 1-0 at First Division Burnley in 1975, and as recently as 2019 we knocked out Premier League West Ham 4-2. Then there’s possibly the greatest upset of them all - beating Liverpool 1-0 in the final at Wembley in 1988.
On Monday night though, Isthmian South East leaders Ramsgate are the visitors and our manager doesn’t want to let a former teammate in particular deny us another crack at a top flight team, potentially in January.
“One of their players is a former teammate of mine,” said Johnnie after Friday’s penultimate training session in New Malden. “I know what Lee Martin can do and we’ll be taking Ramsgate very seriously.”
“I don’t want to look beyond this tie. It’s important that we’re not focused on what lies beyond.”
You can listen to everything Johnnie had to say and read a summary of the key points below.
We’ve been the underdogs so many times over the years - we don’t want to be on the end of an FA Cup shock
It’s a really important game for the club. We know the history we’ve got in the competition and how serious we take it. We don’t want to be on the wrong end of one.
It’s important we approach the game like we would any opposition and give them the respect and we’ll do that because they are a good team. They’re top of their league and had a really good result in the previous round, beating Woking. They’re used to winning this season, having won a lot of games. It’s a tough game and we’ll be approaching it that way.
For some of their players it will be the biggest game of their lives - so that in itself carries a threat, doesn’t it?
They are going to be right up for it, we know that. They are going to bring a big following, it’s going to be a really lively atmosphere, a lively game, it’s on the television and we’ll know potential opponents in the third round going into this game. That could be another factor as well, with the draw on Sunday, knowing who awaits the winner.
We’ve got to be bang on it for this game and I’ll be making sure that the boys are.
How has scouting and obtaining clips of them gone?
Bit trickier than normal, to be honest! We’ve had eyes on them though. Rob Tuvey went down and watched one of their games recently, at home on a Wednesday night. They played Hythe in the league and had a good result.
We’ve got some footage, although it’s not the best! Sometimes it’s difficult to get what you would normally get on opposition. We do the work though. We have watched them, the videos and clips. I know a lot of their players and a lot of them have played in the league.
Team news - we have a full squad to choose from again?
Yes, everyone came through Tuesday. It was a tough game that went on for a long time what with the extra minutes. Recovery was really important on Wednesday and Thursday. We had a proper training session on Friday with all the group out there.
We’ll be following that up with a lighter, short, sharp session on Sunday morning, doing our last bits of match preparation. Then I have to pick a team and there’s nine substitutes that can be named for the FA Cup as well - so there’s more options when thinking about the bench and the changes that can be made.
Harry Pell has stepped up his match fitness by doing extra sessions, hasn’t he?
Yes, he did do extras. He was in a training group that stayed behind, while we went to Gillingham. He was the one that made sure that they did their running at the end of it, so he’s really driving that and wants to be back fit and be a part of what we’re doing.
It’s good to see him back in full training now, not having to dip him in and out of it anymore. He’s training fully, available for selection and he’ll be looking to get back involved.