FORMER York City left-back David Merris is hoping to fulfil a lifetime ambition today by reaching the third round of the FA Cup for the first time at the age of 32.
Merris will be part of the Harrogate Town team aiming to defeat fellow part-timers Hastings United at Wetherby Road this afternoon.
The reward for the winners will be a place in tomorrow’s 2.40pm draw and the prospect of a potential meeting with the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea.
Merris has already achieved a personal landmark having only ever reached the first round of the world-famous competition with the Minstermen, Harrogate and Guiseley.
Barnsley, who were then in League One, remain the highest-ranked side the Rotherham-based sports teacher has tackled in the tournament back in 2003 but he is hungry to win the chance of a possible tilt at top-flight opposition.
Considering the stakes, he also admits the Hastings clash will be the biggest he has played for Harrogate during 305 appearances and three separate spells with the Blue Square Bet North side.
He said: “The possibility of reaching the third round of the FA Cup and getting one of the big boys is a childhood dream for anybody who plays football and, when you’re getting that little bit older, you know you’ve not got many years left to do it.
“The club are expecting 2,000 fans and that will feel like 20,000 due to the size of the ground.”
Harrogate caused an upset in the last round when they knocked out host side Torquay, who were 2-0 npower League Two victors at Bootham Crescent last weekend.
Today’s tie, however, somewhat unusually considering the stage of the competition, sees Harrogate as favourites to progress past their Ryman League premier division visitors.
On the different pressures that scenario presents, Merris added: “We went to Torquay and nobody was expecting us to win but we were relaxed and just played table tennis and pool the night before.
“We were quietly confident and went on to get a result.
“This tie is a bit different. We’re at home and are doing a bit better than they are in their league but it’s just a case of us more experienced lads making sure the younger ones don’t get too giddy and we bring them down to earth to concentrate on the job we have to do.”
The outcome will also determine whether ‘sir’ is subjected to cruel banter or a group of excitable 16 to 18-year-old kids clamouring for tickets when Merris returns to college for work on Monday morning.
“They always follow how the team has done every week and know if we’ve won or lost,” the former York City The Press Player of the Year said of his pupils.
“Some of them are hoping to get along to the game today and they will either be giving me some stick on Monday morning or wanting tickets for the next match if we were to pull out one of the big boys.”
Another teenager benefiting from the tutelage of Merris, as well as his fellow Harrogate team-mates, is City first-year professional Tom Platt, currently on loan with Simon Weaver’s side and among the squad expected to face Hastings.
On Platt’s impact at Town, Merris said: “His work-rate and distribution has been top class and he’s also helped me claim a few goal assists by being in the right place at the right time.
“He’s impressed me with how he’s coped coming into a very strong midfield.”
Trust drive at seven objectives
YORK City Supporters’ Trust will hold their annual meeting at the Pitchside Bar on Thursday, January 17.
It will start at 7.30pm with three existing Trust board members standing for re-election.
Any other Trust members will also be entitled to stand for election with six board positions available and nomination forms will be sent out this month.
The Trust have set out seven objectives, many perennial favourites. They are: 1) Grow the membership; 2) Review the existing structure of the Trust; 3) Improve communication between the Trust and its membership; 4) Ensure that there is no us and them relationship between the Trust, the Trust board and the football club; 5) Safeguard the Trust’s interests as 25 per cent owners of the football club; 6) Assist the club in ensuring that the new stadium meets the requirements of both the football club and its supporters; 7) Increase membership numbers and retain members by ensuring people join for the right reasons.
On the requirements for potential new Trust board members, chairman Ian Hey said: “You need only three skills – enthusiasm, ideas and a love of York City Football Club.”
For further information, visit the www.ycst.org.uk Trust website or contact any board member at firstname.lastname@example.org
Danny joy before exit
MIDFIELDER Danny Kearns exited York City this week as the club’s runaway The Press Player of the Month for November.
The on-loan Peterborough man returned to London Road finishing the month a massive 15 points clear.
Kearns won another The Press man-of-the-match award during his farewell appearance – last Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat to Torquay. That accolade won him three points towards the standings.
He also collected the two bonus points on offer to the player who polled the most man-of-the-match votes from visitors to our website.
Scott Kerr (two) and Lanre Oyebanjo (one) picked up the remaining points on offer.
To be in with a chance of presenting this month’s The Press Player of the Month with their prize – a framed photograph – before a City home game, register your man-of-the-match vote for today’s game. Alternatively, you can tweet your choices to @daveflettpress
The Press Player of the of the Year latest standings (not including Player of the Month bonus points): C Smith 19 points, Walker 15, Blair 13, Parslow 13, Kearns 12, Chambers 11, Ingham 11, Fyfield 10, Coulson 7, Oyebanjo 7, Carlisle 5, J Smith 5, Doig 3, Kerr 3, Reed 3, Blanchett 2, Taylor 2, Challinor 1, Johnson 1, McLaughlin 1.
The Press Player of the Month for November final standings: Kearns 20, C Smith 5, Ingham 4, Parslow 4, Blair 3, Kerr 3, Reed 3, Oyebanjo 3, Walker 2, Fyfield 1, Johnson 1.
Goals: Chambers 6, Coulson 5, Blair 4, Reed 4, Walker 4, McLaughlin 2, Parslow 1, own goal 1, Rodman 1, C Smith 1.
Assists: J Smith 5, Walker 5, Chambers 3, Kearns 3, Carlisle 2, Coulson 2, Parslow 2, C Smith 2, Blair 1, Challinor 1, Fyfield 1, McLaughlin 1, Reed 1.
Bad boys: Chambers 4 yellow cards; C Smith 3 yellow; Kerr 1 red, 1 yellow; Fyfield, Ingham, McLaughlin all 2 yellow; Carlisle, Challinor, Coulson, Doig, Johnson, Parslow, J Smith, Walker all 1 yellow.