Antony Sweeney has urged Pools young players to make their own FA Youth Cup memories against Liverpool tonight, almost sixteen years on from his trip to Old Trafford in the competition.
Pools Youth Team of 2001/02 pushed the Red Devils all the way on their own patch, taking a thrilling tie to extra time thanks to goals from Stephen Manson and Colin McKenzie before the hosts edged through with a fortuitous extra time winner.
The fact that the 3-2 defeat at the Theatre of Dreams is still remembered fondly now tells Sweeney all he needs to know about what awaits the class of 2017/18 when they host Liverpool.
“It’s a massive occasion for the players, there’s no doubt about it,” said Sweeney, who graduated from the Youth Team to play 444 games for Pools.
“The lads just have to remember that it’s still 11 v 11 – we’re not playing Liverpool, we’re playing their Under-18s and we can’t get carried away with that.
“For the Manchester United game I just remember us taking a boat load of coaches down there; we scored two goals which was decent and their winning goal was really lucky one from my memory.
“It was a good experience and we only lost 3-2 in extra-time but we did get a bit of the run around if we’re being honest – I was up against Darren Fletcher and just chased him round for the full game with very little success!
“It was a huge stadium to play in and a bit daunting but the experience of reaching the First Round of the FA Youth Cup was brilliant and to compete was special.”
As a long-standing Liverpool fan, this evening’s game has an extra significance for Sweeney who is looking forward to locking horns with Steven Gerrard who is cutting his teeth in coaching as boss of the Anfield outfit’s Under-18s.
“In my last year at Carlisle I was lucky enough to play against Liverpool at Anfield so that ticked a massive box for me,” he told us.
“But this game is another big one and to be able to be in the dugout opposition someone like Steven Gerrard who was an idol of mine will make it a great occasion.
“I actually bought one of Gerrard’s shirts at one of Ritchie Humphreys’ Testimonial events so I might ask if he wants to buy it back and reimburse me tonight!”
Admission prices are just £5 for adults and £3 for concessions at tonight’s game which kicks-off at 7pm at Victoria Park.