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Sunday, 25 July 2021

Chorley boss relishing FA Cup dance with Wolves

AFP , Thursday 21 Jan 2021
Nuno Santo
Wolverhampton coach Nuno Espirito Santo (AFP)
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English minnows Chorley host mighty Wolves in the FA Cup on Friday, with manager Jamie Vermiglio hoping to rekindle the spirit of a famous win against the same opponents 35 years ago.

Vermiglio, who doubles up as a primary school headteacher, is sad that the club's fans cannot share in the occasion as a result of strict coronavirus restrictions.

The sixth-tier side, the lowest-ranked team left in the competition, recorded one of their finest moments in 1986 when they famously beat Wolves in the first round.

Back then the four-time FA Cup winners had fallen on hard times and were playing in the fourth tier -- a sharp contrast from their current Premier League status.

Chorley, near Manchester in northwest England, have overcome 2013 FA Cup winners Wigan, third-tier Peterborough and Championship outfit Derby to earn their big day against Nuno Espirito Santo's men.

But Vermiglio said he would have loved to have shared the magic of the part-timers' run with his family as he prepares his men for the fourth-round tie.

"The one difficult thing about this run which has been lost due to Covid is my little boy Sam usually comes to every game with me," he said.

"One of the biggest things of my life I cannot share with my wife and children. It makes me quite emotional and it is difficult."

Vermiglio, who teaches in nearby Warrington, would also have expected to have seen some of his pupils and their families filing into the 4,300-capacity Victory Park but he hopes they will tune in to watch on TV instead.

"It is wonderful for my school and others up and down the country whose kids have been really inspired by this," said the 38-year-old, who has had a long association with the club.

"With schoolchildren not being able to go to their dance classes or football training they have not got much to do."

- 'Hope' -

Vermiglio has very little spare time on his hands between training with the National League North side and running his school, particularly during the punishing Covid-19 pandemic.

"The pressures are enormous on the staff," he said. "They have to look out for children whose families are struggling to rub two coins together and so we have to try and feed them.

"The staff have to provide devices for children both in school and delivering them to those at home.

"It is tough and not enough credit goes to teachers, who do not get a lot of positive publicity but trust me they are doing their bit."

He said the club's FA Cup run had given people something to focus on.

"These are such difficult times and there is not much for people to do save go for a walk," he said. "I think that is another reason our story has touched many people out there and given them hope."

Vermiglio said he understood there was a bit of "doom and gloom" among the Wolves fans after their poor recent run in the English top flight.

"When they saw they were playing Chorley, naturally they started saying 'here we go again, they did us 3-0 in 1986, could it happen again?'," he said.

"The pressure is on them to come and win and I think (Nuno) will want to play one of his strongest sides to make sure there are no banana skins."

And the Chorley boss is not ruling out a repeat of the 1986 heroics against Wolves' multimillionaires.

"If the lads play to their capabilities and do the extraordinary and get a result, then it will be these players that are talked about for the next 40 years," he said.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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