Sam Ricketts has challenged his Wrexham players to make their own history as the Dragons prepare for an all-Welsh clash against Newport County in the FA Cup second round.
Wrexham in the FA Cup evokes memories of cup runs to the quarter-finals, of Mickey Thomas’ goal, of beating Arsenal, Ipswich Town, West Ham and Middlesbrough.
And Ricketts has called on his players, despite admitting the Dragons are underdogs against the League Two high-flyers from South Wales, to give the performance they know they are capable of.
“It captures people’s imaginations: an all-Welsh tie, north v south… it’s everything that the FA Cup is,” Ricketts said of the fixture, which will be live on BT Sport and kicks off at 8pm.
“[Wrexham’s] is a huge history. It’s one of the biggest things – everyone remembers Mickey Thomas’ goal; it’s one of the most talked about in the FA Cup, and every year it will get shown because of the goal and because of the upset.
“That’s part of the club’s history and what we’ve said to the players is that is fantastic and why the club is as big as it is, but now it’s their opportunity to earn their place in folklore.
“We’re not favourites. We’re at home but Newport are doing really well in the league above us. They will naturally come here and expect to win the game.
“But what we do know is we’re more than capable of putting an excellent performance in, and with that comes a great chance of winning the game.”
It will be the first match between the Dragons and the Exiles since the National League play-off final at Wembley in 2013.
But Ricketts says neither himself nor his players – none of whom were involved that day – need the extra motivation for Saturday’s FA Cup clash.
“It’s a rivalry that has come over the years, going back to the play-off final as much as anything,” Ricketts said. “Listen, it’s nothing to do with me and it’s nothing to do with the current group of players, but Newport won that and have stayed in the Football League ever since. It’s an opportunity to get one back on them, but it will be a good game.
“There’s a good saying: “History is for books; the future’s ours.” That’s exactly what this game is – an opportunity for the players to showcase their talents on the national stage. It is a game many, many people will take notice of and watch.
“We’ve started the season brilliantly well and lost three in 24 games, which is excellent by anyone’s standards. We’re buoyant but, like I said, Newport come here as favourites.
“We have to trust ourselves and we are capable of winning the game, there is no two ways about that. It’s nothing more than we’ve done numerous times this year – just replicate our own performance levels.”
Rekeil Pyke will miss the game while the full extent of the hamstring injury he suffered in the goalless draw at Barrow is assessed, but Ricketts says the Dragons are otherwise close to full strength.
And Ricketts is expecting Mike Flynn’s Newport to pose a lot of physical questions at the Racecourse on Saturday night.
“I’m expecting a real tough, physical game. They are very resolute and have a very good gameplan – probably typified by the manager.
“They will come here and try and win the game. They won’t not turn up and expect to just win the game. That’s not their style or their manager’s style.
“But that is the FA Cup. It’s a one-off game. Anything can happen.
“The players have been brilliant in the league, that is our bread and butter, but the cup is something different. Something to enjoy and something to relish."