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Interviews

INTERVIEW | FA Cup Hero Steve Watkin

Watkin describes "special" memories in the world's oldest club cup competition and looks ahead to Shrewsbury clash

4 January 2024

Interviews

INTERVIEW | FA Cup Hero Steve Watkin

Watkin describes "special" memories in the world's oldest club cup competition and looks ahead to Shrewsbury clash

4 January 2024

Steve Watkin insisted that the Emirates FA Cup is the greatest competition is in the world, as he reflected on his winning goal which defeated Arsenal 32 years ago today.

It was one of the greatest Emirates FA Cup shocks in history, when Brian Flynn’s Red Dragons overcame the high-flying Arsenal.

Alan Smith put the Gunners ahead before the break, however that goal was only in vain as a wonderful Mickey Thomas free kick levelled the tie on the 82nd minute.

Two minutes later and the Racecourse was in dreamland as Watkin slotted the ball past the former England goalkeeper, David Seaman to seal the victory.

Pandemonium erupted inside the stadium, as the comeback was complete, and the Fourth Division outfit had knocked out the high ranked First Division side.

On what was a remarkable day for the town and Football Club alike, the former striker described the day as one he will never forget.

He said: “When Arsenal came out of the hat we were delighted to have a team of that stature because we knew it would be a full house at the Racecourse.

“I was 20 years old at the time and it was exciting for me because a few years before I was stood on the Kop watching the lads week in week out.

“It’s hard to put into words how the game went; Mickey got the equaliser late on in the game and I managed to find the winner.

“For a Wrexham lad and a Wrexham fan, it couldn’t have gone any better because it was special for me.

“It was a one off, you couldn’t have written it and today is special for me and all the lads.”

The Red Dragons have been steeped in history in the competition, with the most recent ‘cupset’ coming last season against Coventry City.

A 4-3 victory at the CBS Arena, with goals from Sam Dalby, Elliot Lee, Tom O’Connor and Paul Mullin subsequently set up an intriguing battle against Sheffield United.

It wasn’t just Arsenal that Watkin enjoyed success against, but they secured another upset at the Boleyn Ground in 1997, with a 1-0 replay victory against West Ham United.

That season they reached the Quarter-Finals of the competition, and Watkin added that there was no feeling like creating those moments.

He said: “For me then FA Cup was the best cup competition in the world, and it still is.

“It was bigger back in the day than it maybe is now, but you always felt the atmosphere had a certain edge to it.

“To get to the Quarter-Finals was a major effort from everyone, and we had two great wins against West Ham and Birmingham City.”

Since the former striker donned the famous red shirt at the Cae Ras, the Club has gone from virtual extinction to elation in the EFL.

During his time with the Club, he experienced both highs and lows, and since retirement he still supports the Club and is a regular at home fixtures.

In what has been an incredible rise over the past 12 months, the Wrexham-born striker believes it’s nothing more than the town deserves.

Watkin explained: “There’s been an awful lot happen since I stopped playing, but in the 90’s it was a great time for the Club.

“We had some great cup runs, we won promotion in 1993 so I can see certain parallels with how the team is performing now.

“What the owners have given to the community is far more than anyone expected and it’s brilliant for the whole town.

“The supporters play a big part and Wrexham has always been a hotbed of football and our supporters that put their hand in their pocket to save the Club deserve it more than anyone.”

This weekend the Red Dragons take on Sky Bet League One outfit Shrewsbury Town in the Third Round of the competition.

It’s a fixture which hasn’t taken place for more than fifteen years and is sure to reignite the rivalry between the two.

Last time the Reds earned victory against Salop, it was Michael Proctor’s strike that settled the victory for Brian Carey side.

Ahead of the fixture, Watkin believes that the Red Dragons can be victorious come full-time on Sunday.

He said: “It’s been a while since the two sides have played and I’ve had some good memories playing against Shrewsbury.

“The atmosphere is always good, both teams will fancy their chances and hopefully if we can make it into the fourth round, we get a big club.

“It should be a great game and I’m really looking forward to it.”


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