For some English soccer fans, Accrington Stanley will forever be associated with a TV commercial for milk from the 1980s.
In it, a soccer-loving urchin tells a friend that if he does not drink his milk he’ll only ever be good enough to play for Accrington Stanley.
His friend replies: “Accrington Stanley? Who are they?” and fans of the perennially unsuccessful Lancashire club have never been allowed to forget that line, or the response: “Exactly!”
For those long-suffering supporters this weekend’s FA Cup fourth round tie with Premier League Fulham offers an opportunity for their club, which only a few months ago was on the verge of bankruptcy, to enjoy the limelight.
Accrington, currently 11th in the four tier of English soccer, are the lowest-ranked team left in the competition and their run has already assured the club’s near-term financial future, as well as taking them a stage further than Liverpool or Manchester United could manage.
But manager John Coleman sees no reason to settle for that.
“Fulham will have had our [third round] game against Gillingham watched and they will know it won’t be a cakewalk,” he said.
“My lads are sky high at the minute. Fulham hold no fear for them and, to be honest, my players would feel happy and confident if they went out to play Real Madrid just at the moment,” Coleman said.
The demise of United and Liverpool, beaten respectively by Leeds and Reading in the last round, has left Chelsea as the bookmakers’ favorites to lift the Cup.
But the holders have a potentially tricky fourth round assignment in the form of a trip to Championship side Preston, now managed by United boss Sir Alex Ferguson’s son Darren.
Arsenal are involved in one of three all-Premier League ties with Arsene Wenger’s men looking to maintain their recent momentum at Stoke tomorrow.
Everton take on Birmingham while 2008 winners Portsmouth entertain Sunderland in the other clashes between top flight clubs.
Having seen their side beat Manchester United at Old Trafford in the third round, Leeds supporters will relish another afternoon back in the big time when they travel to Tottenham, while Reading’s reward for knocking Liverpool out is a home tie against Burnley.
Wolves plan to pitch Belgium winger Geoffrey Mujangi Bia, their transfer-window loan signing, straight into action in their meeting with Londoners Crystal Palace, who are challenging for a place in the Championship play-offs.
Other ties with the potential for an upset include League Two Notts County’s home tie with Wigan and Scunthorpe’s date tomorrow with Manchester City.