Barry Hayles has created plenty of Emirates FA Cup memories throughout his career but the veteran striker is hoping he can produce at least one more for Chesham United this season.
The FA Cup has played a huge role in Hayles’ career. The marksman first burst on to the footballing scene as part of a Non-League Stevenage Borough side that made it all the way through to the Third Round in 1996-97.
Paulton Rovers v Chesham United
The Emirates FA Cup
Second Round Qualifying
3pm, Saturday 26 September
Athletic Field, Paulton
Stevenage ultimately lost to 2-0 to Birmingham City but after making his mark, Hayles earned a move to Football League side Bristol Rovers soon after.
That transfer launched his career. He would go on to play Premier League football with Fulham, and reach the Cup semi-final in 2001-02, where they narrowly lost to Chelsea.
Now 43, he has yet to hang up his boots as he gears up for Chesham’s Second Qualifying Round clash with Paulton Rovers on Saturday, he says the FA Cup is still as special as ever to him.
“The FA Cup is still a competition I enjoy playing in and get a buzz from,” said the ten-cap Jamaican international.
“I was at Stevenage when we made it through to the Third Round and played Birmingham – that was the game that really let people know who I was.
“Even though we didn’t win there were a lot of good things that came out of the game for me and it really set me on my way.
“Making it to the Semi-Final with Fulham was definitely another highlight for me and something that still gets brought up quite a lot.
“So it’s a special competition for me and I keep saying to the young guys at Chesham that this is a platform for them. The better players will stand out and can really get noticed.”
Chesham and Paulton actually met in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division earlier this season with Chesham coming out on top 2-1 – a result Hayles is keen to repeat at Athletic Field this weekend.
The veteran, who is a player-coach for the Generals, actually faces a race against time to be fit for the game after picking up a knock in the 3-0 loss to Cirencester last weekend.
But after battling through the First Qualifying Round by beating Aylesbury in a replay, he is hopeful of keeping their FA Cup dream alive.
“We know that going there will be another tough fixture but we’re hopeful of getting the same result,” Hayles added.
“They’re a tough team though and we tend to go behind a lot, so hopefully we can start on the front foot, get an early goal and take it from there.
“Coaching and management is definitely something I’m looking to do in the long term. I’m enjoying the coaching but I’m definitely looking at becoming a manager one day.
“Every year I say this will be my last season on the pitch but I still love playing!”