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What a Liberty

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What a Liberty

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the Hornets’ historic appearance in the second round ‘proper’ of the FA Cup, the first and only time the club has reached this stage of the world-famous knockout competition in our 136 year history. To mark the occasion, we look back at that record-breaking run and speak to some of the men that helped make it happen.

Having taken the decision to sell their Queen Street home of more than a century for redevelopment, the 2007/8 season was always set to be an historic and emotional one in the history of Horsham Football Club but hopes were high that the Hornets would sign off their one hundred and three year stay in style as manager John Maggs had brought together an exciting group of players. Early wins over Maidstone United, Folkestone Invicta, Boreham Wood and Carshalton Athletic had put them in confident mood ahead of their FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round tie versus County League side Arundel, the club that had ironically provided the opposition for the very first fixture at the ground back in 1904.

“The recent history at the club, getting through to the final qualifying round twice only to lose out to Yeovil and Team Bath, meant we always fancied a cup run especially with the group of players we had then. And it obviously helped to get a decent home draw, as we did when we got Arundel at home” recalls then club captain Ed French. Yet during the early stages of the game the visitors threatened an upset before Carl Rook got the first goal of his maiden Hornets hat-trick just after the half hour, with Simon Austin adding a second before the break. In the second half an incredible twelve minute spell, starting on the hour, produced five further goals with Dean Wright wrapping up the scoring at the death with his first and only senior goal for the club as Horsham ran out comfortable 7-1 winners over an Arundel side that included current Hornet Matt Axell.

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Hornets v Arundel 15.9.2007

Having suffered an exit at the first stage of the competition in each of the previous two seasons, it was a mix of relief and excitement that supporters awaited the draw for the next round and most would have been delighted to have been handed another home tie, especially given that they were paired with Suffolk-based Bury Town of the Isthmian League Division One North. Again the side went into the tie in good form, recording back-to-back wins over Chelmsford City and East Thurrock, but Bury were something of an unknown quantity although in former Ipswich Town midfielder Gavin Johnson and Ian Cambridge, who was part of the Histon side that had destroyed Horsham 5-0 in the same competition just three years before, it was clear that the visitors would provide a somewhat tougher task than that of the Mullets a fortnight earlier. The home side enjoyed almost all the possession during the opening half hour but were stunned when Sam Reed nipped in to head the visitors in front and their small band of loyal supporters were literally singing in the September showers when Johnson added a stunning second, just after the break. Crucially, Rook pulled a goal back almost immediately but the Hornets were unable to force an equaliser and, with only twelve minutes, appeared to be heading out of the cup.

The time for a gamble had come and, withdrawing French, Maggs opted to play with just three at the back and threw on Lewis Taylor for a premature return to action having suffered an injury at Margate the month before. “I wasn’t due to have played or even come on” admits the midfielder, now plying his trade at Dorking Wanderers. “I was struggling with a cut foot, I think, but John asked me how I felt and any player will tell you that all you want to do is play, especially in the FA Cup, so I told him I was fine. To be honest, I was gutted that I didn’t start the match but with fifteen minutes to go and us 2-1 down, I just wanted to get on and try to help us turn it around”. His impact was immediate. Picking the ball up just inside the Bury half, Taylor strode forwards and thumped a low shot that zipped off the wet turf and under the ‘keeper’s body for a dramatic equaliser. “As great as it felt to get back on terms, there were probably a few thoughts of urgh we’ve got to go all the way to Bury on Tuesday but the momentum was with us now and we felt that, having got level, we could go on and win it”. And win it they did for, with just two minutes remaining, Taylor and Lee Carney combined to set up Rook to arrow in a drive that beat the ‘keeper and sparked scenes of unbridled joy all around the ground, save for a few bedraggled and thoroughly despondent Town fans who were left to contemplate a long and miserable journey back to Suffolk that evening. “It was one of those games when everything just came together for me” was Taylor’s modest assessment of his brief cameo appearance that day. Little did he know of the impact he would have on the rest of the cup run.

“It was one of those games when everything just came together for me”  Lewis Taylor

Just over twelve months earlier, Horsham had been controversially knocked out of the competition by AFC Wimbledon for whom Darren Grieves headed in a stoppage time winner after Gary Charman had had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside. So when the two sides were paired again in Monday’s 3rd Qualifying Round draw, it was time for the Hornets to take their revenge. Yet the Dons probably weren’t Horsham’s ideal opponent. Unbeaten against the Hornets in six matches since their re-formation, Wimbledon were clear favourites to succeed on their own ground but were unable to get the better of their divisional rivals in a closely-fought match that ended goalless. “It was a very tight, very tense, game with not many chances” remembers Lee Carney. “They had a few chances in the last ten minutes and we were holding on a bit so we were buzzing with the result and were very happy to take them back to Queen Street.” “It was a great draw for me, personally” added Taylor. “I had played for AFC Wimbledon earlier in my career so it was nice to go back there. I still wasn’t playing regularly, because of my foot, but managed to get on in the second half and I think we deserved to take them back to our place”.

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AFC Wimbledon v Hornets 13.10.2007

The Tuesday night replay drew an expectant crowd of almost thirteen hundred through the turnstiles, packing the Queen Street terraces and filling the main grandstand, and many were still vying for the best vantage point when Taylor raced through to put the Hornets one up, executing Maggs’ masterplan to perfection. “I remember it like it was yesterday” said Taylor, for whom the replay was his first start since that August Bank Holiday match at Margate. “John said to us beforehand that we needed to get off to a fast start because they were a team who would cause us problems. It doesn’t always work out how you plan it but on this occasion it did and I was lucky enough to stick one away after a couple of minutes to put us on the front foot. I think it gave them a bit of a shock that we had come out and taken them on from the start. They were a good side, though, and managed to equalise and it became a really good contest after that, really end to end”.

A frantic finale saw both sides go close to winning the tie in the regulation ninety minutes, with Horsham unsuccessful with what appeared to be a perfectly valid penalty claim when Carney was checked by Micky Haswell in the area, but neither side could be separated despite an additional thirty minutes so the drama levels were cranked up further with a penalty shoot-out. A huge roar went up as Alan Mansfield kept out Sam Hatton’s opening blast but it was all square again, a couple of kicks later, when Taylor was denied by Andy Little. “I think the occasion took its toll on everyone” said Taylor. “It was a tough game and the extra half an hour really took it out of both teams. Then we had penalties, which I think adds to the mental as well as the physical pressure.” Tom Graves, Stuart Myall and Chamal Fenelon were all successful with their efforts but then, with the scores level at 4-4 and the shoot-out entering a ‘sudden death’ phase, AFC’s Mark Beard shot over the top leaving Carney with the chance to send Horsham through. The atmosphere was electric, with nervous anticipation coursing through the veins of the home support, although light relief was provided by Hornets coach Rob Frankland who, in his mistaken belief that Beard’s miss had won his side the game, ran half the length of the pitch to celebrate only to sheepishly return to the dug-out when it was pointed out that Carney still had a job to do. “I was massively cramped up and didn’t think I’d be able to make the walk up to the penalty spot” revealed the midfielder. “I had to take my pads and tape off and walked up to take it with my socks rolled down to my ankles but the linesman told me I had to pull them up! I remember there were quite a few Wimbledon fans behind the goal, trying to put me off, but I managed to put it in the corner and we were through.”

“I was massively cramped up and didn’t think I’d be able to make the walk up to the penalty spot” Lee Carney

That the Dons tie had gone to a replay meant that our opponents were already known, although little were known about the club itself as we were paired with Southern League Chippenham Town for the first time in our history. It was the first time the club had faced a side from Wiltshire since the famous meeting with Swindon Town in 1966 but we knew we were in for a difficult test against a side who were looking to appear in the first round for the second time in three seasons. A large following from West Sussex helped produce Hardenhuish Park’s biggest crowd of the season but they would have been concerned at the absence of the injured Gary Charman and suspended Nigel Brake, although The Bluebirds had their own selection problems with skipper Iain Harvey and Sean Seavill sidelined through injury, leaving the average age of the home line-up just twenty-two years.

“Carney and Taylor combined to set up Austin to sweep the ball home with even The Lord Jesus Christ joining in the celebrations”

The first half was a cagey, yet fairly open, affair in which the Hornets weathered some early Chippenham pressure to create arguably the best two chances of the half, with Simon Austin bringing an uncomfortable save from goalkeeper Chris Snoddy and an effort from Rook shaving the post. The second half was just a minute old, though, when Horsham edged in front when Taylor’s deflected shot squirmed beyond the ‘keeper and in to the back of the net via the upright. The Horsham supporters went wild with delight, their sense of euphoria heightened further when, just minutes after a goal-line clearance by Kevin Hemsley had maintained the Hornets’ advantage, Carney and Taylor combined to set up Austin to sweep the ball home with even The Lord Jesus Christ joining in the celebrations. “I remember the following we had at Chippenham, particularly Big Dave dressed as Jesus” recalled French. “The pitch had quite a slope on it and I remember all the Horsham supporters packed in at the top end. We always had great support back then but that was a bit special”.

Chippenham battled valiantly to rescue the tie, and were denied a goal by the heroics of Mansfield in the Horsham goal, but the Hornets made the most of the spaces left by their hosts at the back to score a third when Austin cut the ball back for Rook to beat Snoddy from close range. The Bluebirds set up a frantic finale when they cut the deficit to a single goal with four minutes remaining but the Hornets – with divinity on their side – held on for their first appearance in the first round for four decades. “There was real jubilation at the final whistle, to have finally got through to the first round proper, and the scenes in the dressing room afterwards were incredible” said French. “It was a bit of a ding-dong game and not easy at all, despite us going 3-0 up. At that stage it seemed like we were cruising but we ended up making hard work of it as they pulled a couple back and we were holding on at the end”. “It was an incredible day” added Carney. “Even a bust-up between Cham (Chamal Fenelon) and Tommy (Warrilow) couldn’t take the gloss off it, in fact some of us found it quite funny. After the game we were sitting in their bar, high up over the pitch, watching the draw on TV and when we got pulled out as the home team the place erupted. Getting Maidenhead probably wasn’t the dream draw everyone wanted but it gave us a very winnable home tie and the chance of making it through to the second round. The locals were really friendly at Chippenham but it was a great journey home with the fans after that, and a very good night afterwards!”

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Chippenham Town v Hornets 27.10.2007

“It was probably mixed feelings when we drew Maidenhead” admitted French. “You get so wrapped up with the thought that you’re through to the first round and could get one of the league clubs that it was probably a bit of an anti-climax at first. Having got in to the first round, you don’t really give the second round a thought but then it dawned on us that we had a great chance of getting through.”

Those sentiments were clearly shared by the Horsham public, many of whom were queuing outside the ground some three hours before kick-off on the Big Day. Past FA Cup achievements were acknowledged by the appearance of Owen Parker, Roy Spriggs, Wilf Hugill and Mick Streeter, who represented the players who had taken on Notts County and Swindon Town in the club’s two previous first round appearances but the day was all about the present side and Maggs caused something of a surprise when he dropped French to the bench. “It was really disappointing to be told by John that I was going to be on the bench for the game, especially as we were given squad numbers for the game and I was number five. To be honest, I wasn’t playing as well as I could but the whole run was a real squad effort and when Kev Hemsley started instead of me, it wasn’t a problem. I love the club and the most important thing that day wasn’t whether or not I played but that we went through.”

“It was really disappointing to be told by John that I was going to be on the bench for the game” Eddie French

Over three thousand spectators crammed into the old ground that afternoon, including four coachloads from Berkshire in support of the Conference South side, and they saw an end-to-end first half that appeared destined to end goalless until the final minute. Ironically it was a rare poorly-executed set-piece by Carney that led to the goal, when his low corner was easily cleared to halfway where it was seized upon by Nigel Brake who advanced a few yards before hitting an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the net. “A blooter” was how Mark Lawrenson described the goal on that night’s Match of the Day show, while Taylor believes it was “one of the best goals I have ever seen”. Carney, meanwhile, had a more tongue-in-cheek recollection of his team-mate’s wonder strike. “We all went out and bought a decent new pair of boots for the match, for a hundred pounds or whatever, but Brakey turned up with this pair that had cost him about thirty quid. Puma Plastics we called them, and we gave him a lot of stick for them, but then he went and scored that absolute worldy. We still tell him it came off his pads though!”

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Hornets v Maidenhead United 10.11.2007

“I ran toward my dad, then Big Lee, and then to the Horsham fans who cheered me on” Lee Farrell

Carney got the next goal himself, finishing off a superb move involving Rook, Taylor and Charman with a stunning overhead kick. “It was a nice build up and when it came to me there was only one thing to do as I certainly wasn’t going to head it. I was never any good with my head! I caught it right, it went in, and everyone went nuts. I got bundled by the whole team and it took me about five minutes to recover, especially with Myally on top! I have asthma so I struggled to get my breath back for a bit and that’s when Maidenhead pulled one back from a penalty.” Dwane Lee’s spot-kick, just two minutes after Carney’s goal, gave the Magpies hope but on an afternoon of spectacular goals, more Carney magic restored the hosts’ two goal advantage. Weaving inside and out, he finished with aplomb to give the Hornets one foot in the next round. Unsurprisingly, helped no doubt by countless reruns of the DVD, Carney has strong memories of this goal, too. “I played a one-two with Lewis Taylor, I think, beat one man, dropped my shoulder, beat a second man, pretended to shoot and left a defender on the floor, feinted again and then clipped it into the top corner”. In the hubbub that followed, Charman was red-carded for celebrating with the crowd, an incident that was missed by many who were still leaping wildly on the terraces, before Lee Farrell put the icing on the cake when he raced through to add a fourth in the closing stages. “I thought it was a good game, and one of the best by Horsham” said Farrell. “I was happy to celebrate the last goal. I scored sideways with my right leg, my best, to give me lots of power to kick. I ran toward my dad, then Big Lee, and then to the Horsham fans who cheered me on.” The crowds swarmed on to the pitch in celebration at the final whistle, hugging and embracing each other and the players at the history-making moment. “I remember a fan asking for my shinpads” said Carney “and I was happy to give them to him, until I realised I’d have to buy another pair for the next game so that cost me a few quid!”

“Oh my God, we’ve got Swansea!”

“Oh my God, we’ve got Swansea” was how Taylor recalls the outcome of the Sunday afternoon draw. “It was just amazing and made all the hard work of those previous ties worth it. They’d just moved into a brand new stadium and I’d be lying if I didn’t feel a bit of disappointment at not being drawn away to them. But then you think ‘hold up, we could get a result against them at home’. Queen Street would be a leveller as they wouldn’t be used to those sort of facilities and that kind of ground. Of course, it was an added bonus when it was announced that the game would be on TV as it’s the sort of thing you dream about as a young footballer, playing in the FA Cup and being on TV!”

Now, of course, a Premier League side, Swansea City were a club on the up in 2007. They marked their promotion to League One in 2005 by moving into the newly-constructed Liberty Stadium, were beaten Play-Off finalists in that first season in their new home, won both the Football League Trophy and the FAW Premier Cup that same year and, in Roberto Martinez, boasted one of the best young managers in the league. That they went on to win the 2007/8 League One title with a record number of points ever achieved by a Welsh side in the Football League gives some idea of the strength of the Swans at that time. Little wonder, then, that they were the highest-ranking side in the Second Round of the FA Cup at the time and very much the prize the likes of Weymouth, Havant & Waterlooville, Staines Town, Chasetown and Harrogate Railway Athletic might have hoped to get. In the end, each of the remaining ‘non-leaguers’ were paired with teams from the Football League and the scenes in the Queen Street clubhouse must have been repeated at the Wessex Stadium, Wheatsheaf Park et al.

“(The police) imposed so many difficult conditions on us, including providing for a temporary morgue, yes…a morgue!”

“Even the lead up to the Maidenhead game was a manic time but once we were in the hat for the second round, all hell let loose” recalls Horsham CEO John Lines. “No-one at the club had any experience of the dizzy heights we found ourselves in and now, drawn against the Champions elect of Division One, we were red hot news. John Maggs and I were virtually camped out  in the office at Queen Street for three weeks leading up to the game. The phone never stopped ringing, with calls from radio and television stations, well-wishers, potential advertisers and of course supporters wanting to reserve tickets. The FA appointed an agency to handle the advertising but I still remember John and Les Hay out there in pouring rain banging in wooden stakes to support advertising hoardings by the goals. We had meetings with Sky TV over how they could get their equipment on site, which was very much touch and go, and we had to take down fences and lay metal tank tracks for them to drive behind the old South stand. Our meetings with the Police were nightmares too. They imposed so many difficult conditions on us, including providing for a temporary morgue, yes…a morgue! And we had to pay them a substantial amount for the privilege! When it came to allocating and selling the tickets we knew it would be a sell out so we had to ration them. I could not believe it on the morning we opened shop. I opened the doors at 9am to be faced with a massive crowd that stretched right back from the clubhouse all the way down the lane and out on to Queen Street. What a fantastic sight that was!”

“The week leading up to the game was just mad,” added Taylor. “Sky were at our training sessions and the FA Cup was brought down to the training ground. It was all very exciting but I’ve always been one to be able to think it’s just another game and we just had to turn up and do what we all do best. It poured down on the day and you just think to yourself ‘oh no’. You keep checking your phone for updates because you build yourself up for the occasion and you’re desperately hoping it’s not going to be called off. If it hadn’t been due be shown on Sky then it probably would have been.”

For Lee Carney, it was more than the bad weather that left him on tenterhooks. “I had a heavy cold all week on the build-up to the match and still had it on the morning of the game but it was the adrenalin that got me through in the end.”

The media love a good story, especially in the FA Cup, and it wasn’t long before Lee Farrell became the focalpoint for the press. Profoundly deaf from birth, Farrell didn’t allow this to hold back his dreams of becoming a footballer and had already made it through to the first round of the cup with Lewes, as well as playing in the European Deaf Football Championships for Great Britain. “There was a lot of attention but the media was not too bad as I was already in local and deaf newspapers when I was growing up so I got used to it” he said. On the day of the match itself, it was the weather that was taking all the attention. A tremendous downpour during the afternoon meant that a huge cover needed to be brought in to protect the pitch and it just about did its job although, once the game got underway, it was soon clear that it would cut up badly as the rain continued to come down.

Although heightening expectations that the Hornets might produce a shock result, the conditions didn’t exactly favour the home side either, as Carney points out. “I remember John Maggs being asked before the replay if he thought a decent pitch might harm our chances of getting a result but John was right when he said that the mud at Queen Street didn’t only give Swansea problems but it meant we couldn’t play our usual football either. We weren’t a ‘smash it forwards’ side. We played through the lines, liked to build from the back, through the middle and down the flanks but in the end it was just a battle rather than a game of football.”

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Hornets v Swansea City 30.11.2007

“It was an awful night” agreed French, who had to make do again with a place among the substitutes. “It was an especially proud moment for those of us whose children were mascots for that game, like me and Lee Carney, but then everyone was crammed into the dug-out to try and stay out of the rain. It was exciting because none of us had been on Sky TV before and the guys held their own. (Paul) Seukes had a good game but we had our chances too. Although I missed out on the game, I can’t complain because Kev, Tommy Graves, Stuart Myall and Brakey were really solid at the back.”

“I can still feel the tension now, waiting for Lewis to take that penalty”

If it had been a difficult night for the club captain to have to watch on from the sidelines, spare a thought for Alan Mansfield, whose controversial dismissal during a League Cup tie at Eastbourne Town saw the popular goalkeeper suspended for the biggest game of his life. His place in the side was taken by former AFC Wimbledon man Paul Seuke, who performed heroics in the mud before finally being beaten by Guillem Bauza, shortly before half-time. The Hornets remained in the contest, though, and threatened an equaliser before being handed the chance to level when Swansea’s Alan Tate was adjudged to have fouled substitute Lee Farrell in the area just six minutes from time. “I was sub with a mild knee injury but when I came on there was a strength in the team” explained Farrell. “We got stronger and attacked more. We were hungry and boiled with fire within us, ready to win the game.”

“I can still feel the tension now, waiting for Lewis to take that penalty” said Carney. “To be fair, it was touch and go whether he would keep his footing, it was that difficult, but he put it away brilliantly and we all went sliding off in the corner to celebrate with Howie!”

“I didn’t think we deserved to be behind so when we got the penalty late on, it was a massive moment for us” said Horsham’s goalscorer. “I was the first choice penalty taker but the first thing I did was to grab the ball before anyone else fancied it. One hundred per cent no-one else was getting it! I don’t usually get nervous but I did then because there was so much pressure. The boys had worked so hard that I didn’t want to let them down as there was a great bond between the whole squad and a real camaraderie in the side. My parents have always supported me throughout my career and my dad said to me when I was younger that if you take a penalty, pick a spot and stick to it. Hit the ball as well as you can and if the ‘keeper makes the save then so be it. The ‘keeper was trying his best to put me off, calling me a few naughty names but I was so focussed that I didn’t even realise he had thrown a bit of mud at me until I watched it back on TV. Fortunately the shot went in and then I don’t know what my celebration was all about. I slid off into the corner and into the advertising boards and everyone came and joined in.”

French was full of admiration for his team-mates. “Lee Farrell did really well, won the penalty, and Lewis was so composed in putting away the pen. At the end it was like we’d won the World Cup. Fantastic celebrations.”

The replay was set for Monday 10th December and was, once again selected for Sky TV coverage. “The journey down to Swansea in the ex-Wolverhampton Wanderers “luxury” team bus was memorable” recalls Lines. “The passenger door would not close, the heating didn’t work and it was freezing!” The memories of the players were somewhat less troubled, though. “I was buzzing in the coach on the way up” remembers Carney. “We used to go by coach a lot back then so that was nothing new to us. There was lots of banter, people playing cards, Gary Charman had a sleep. He was always sleeping! It was all quite relaxed really, with everyone doing their own thing. Then when we got to Swansea it all hit home. We were taken straight to our hotel, which was five star with swimming pools, Jacuzzi, sauna, everything you’d associate with a Premier League side really and for a couple of days we lived the life of footballers.” Taylor was also impressed. “It was like a boyhood dream. The treatment was amazing and something most of us had never experienced before. The kit bags were taken off the coach for you and the changing rooms were as big as a house! And the reception from our supporters when we came out was incredible but I’ve always said Horsham fans are some of the best I’ve ever played for”.

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Swansea City v Hornets 10.12.2007

“he couldn’t even get close enough to kick him!”

The nearly four hundred strong following that had packed the coaches out of Horsham needed little extra incentive to find their voices as their side almost made a sensational start when Carney was brought down inside the penalty area, straight from the kick-off. “We should have had a penalty after about fifteen seconds when I got taken out but we kept our belief and went 1-0 and then 2-1 up and we were on Cloud Nine for thirty minutes. We caused them lots of problems as I don’t think they expected us to play on the front foot, which we were doing, and tried to play in their defensive third. Unfortunately I think the second goal upset Swansea a bit because we couldn’t get the ball off them after that and they went and scored three quick goals before half-time. We were penned in our own half for ages and we realised then that we were playing a very good side. They had a lad called Paul Anderson that even Nigel Brake, who was quick, couldn’t keep up with. I remember Brakey coming off at half-time complaining that he couldn’t even get close enough to kick him!”

The pace and fitness levels of the Football League side also remains in the memory of Taylor. “They played a few different players who hadn’t played at Queen Street, people like Leon Britton who went on to play for them in the Premier League. I had to mark Darren Pratley (currently at Bolton Wanderers) and I thought I was fit but I couldn’t get near him after twenty minutes!”

“We were all knackered by half-time”, Carney continued “but we didn’t feel we were out of the game and John basically told us to do what we had been doing for the first half hour. At the end, though, tiredness came into it and Swansea showed their professionalism and really made us work hard. We were dead on our feet by the end. We gave away a couple of sloppy goals that upset us a bit because we didn’t tend to do that but we were quite happy that we only lost the second half 2-0. But we all had that winning mentality so were really down to have lost the game but John lifted us all up and told us that we should be proud of what we had achieved, and he was right. After we had changed and left the dressing room, we had time to reflect and realised what a massive achievement it was to have gone so far, and to have taken Swansea to a replay!”

Taylor confirmed his team-mate’s feelings. “It might sound silly but even though we knew it was a big ask for us to beat them, we were gutted to lose as we really went there believing we might pull off a bit of a shock. You’re feeling a bit down for a couple of hours or so but then I spoke to my mum and dad, and the other players, and they remind you what you’ve actually achieved. Horsham had never been that far in the competition so we’re in the history books for that.”

Despite finishing on the losing side, it was an extra special night for Farrell, who scored both Horsham’s goals. “I did not think I could score the goals so it was a surprise that I scored twice. Also an extra surprise that I was Man Of The Match! That I was not expecting and did not hear the announcement of my name when my manager tapped me on the shoulder to tell me to follow him to the reporter’s room. I wish I had the British Sign language interpreter with me to sign for me to understand everything. At the time there were none and I only got briefly information to receive a large Man Of The Match bottle of ‘FA’ champagne, which I still have unopened! It brings me memories of Horsham FC every time I see it and gives me stories to tell to my three kids. All my deaf friends and people around the country and the world watched me on the TV and were so proud of me. Its shows that deaf people can do it.”

To the delight of the Horsham faithful, French was given a well-deserved cameo appearance, replacing Gary Charman for the closing stages. “It was a great pitch and we couldn’t quite believe it when we went 2-1 up. I got on for the last fifteen minutes, which was great, but as soon as I got on, Warren Feeney sidestepped me and scored from about thirty yards to make it 5-2. What a welcome to the game! But it felt great to be part of something really good.”

When asked if he has any souvenirs from his trip to the Liberty, Carney replied “It was a bit of a disappointment when the Swansea kit man came in with some old shirts for us, and asked for the ones back that we’d exchanged at the end of the game. I think that Lewis was the only one who kept his as he threw it to his mum and dad straight after the game! Mine belonged to a lad called Shaun McDonald, who went on to play in the Premier League for Bournemouth. He didn’t even play in either of the games against us but it’s a nice souvenir to have and is in the collection along with the DVDs, the hats, the shirts, the programmes, the newspapers cuttings and the little shirt my lad Jimmy wore for the Swansea game, with my name and number on!”

“I got Alan Tate’s shirt” confirmed Taylor “and it’s framed along with my shirt and on my wall, with a little plaque. It’s one of my most prized possessions from my career. Although I got to the third round with Wimbledon a few years later, it didn’t beat the feeling I had with Horsham because there was an expectation at Wimbledon that we’d do well whereas Horsham were just living the dream. And for a few days after that match at the Liberty, I was continuing to live on it!”

“It was great for the club and brilliant for the supporters” said French. “I’ve played with players since who have told me they went to the game on the coach and were on the terraces watching us, which is pretty amazing.”

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Swansea went on to suffer a shock defeat at Havant and Waterlooville in the next round, a victory that rewarded the Hawks with a plum tie at Liverpool, something that wasn’t lost on Carney, a lifelong ‘Red’. “Yes I have thought what if many times. What if we had got that penalty, what if we had held out until half-time, what if we had gone on to beat Havant…..I could have been walking out at Anfield! That really would have been a dream come true for me but I’m sure there’s plenty of other players who might dream of playing at the Liberty Stadium, or appearing on Sky TV, and no-one can take that away from any of us”.

The run in full:
15.9.2007 1st Qualifying Round v Arundel (h) W 7-1 Att: 326 (Scorers: Rook (3), Austin, Brake, Mingle, Wright)
29.9.2007 2nd Qualifying Round v Bury Town (h) W 3-2 Att: 404 (Scorers: Rook (2), Taylor)
13.10.2007 3rd Qualifying Round: v AFC Wimbledon (a) D 0-0 Att: 1546
16.10.2007 3rd Qualifying Round replay v AFC Wimbledon (h) D 1-1 Att: 1265 (Scorer: Taylor) Horsham won 5-4 on pens
27.10.2007 4th Qualifying Round v Chippenham Town (a) W 3-2 Att: 912 (Scorers: Taylor, Austin, Rook)
10.11.2007 1st Round v Maidenhead United (h) W 4-1 Att: 3379 (Scorers, Brake, Carney (2), Farrell)
30.11.2007 2nd Round v Swansea City (h) D 1-1 Att: 2731 (Scorer: Taylor pen)
10.12.2007 2nd Round replay v Swansea City (a) L 2-6 Att: 5911 (Scorer: Farrell (2))

Photos by John Lines and Terry Buckman

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