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It doesn’t get any better than this, says Hastings boss
TO the majority of supporters inside the Riverside Stadium it was a pretty comfortable afternoon watching Middlesbrough secure a place in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
For everyone associated with little Hastings United it meant much more. With more than 1,000 fans seated in the away section, the part-time players of the Ryman Premier League club were reminded just why the famous competition remains special across the country.
Middlesbrough might not be a Premier League club any more, but for Hastings the chance to mix it on a competitive stage with Tony Mowbray’s squad was an opportunity they will cherish forever.
Hastings centre-back, and manager, Sean Ray, said: “Some big clubs might not take the FA Cup seriously.
They’ve got bigger money and bigger prizes to play for but you saw what it means for us out there, the players, the fans, the whole town.
It’s given us all magic memories. This is what people come for. We’ll make sure we’ll savour it and try to make sure we come back again next year.”
Middlesbrough – even with 12 first team members unavailable through injury – had too much quality for their lower league opponents.
And once Merouane Zemmama struck his first of the afternoon to get Boro on their way after Ishmael Miller’s penalty miss it was a routine afternoon’s work.
Regardless of the 4-1 scoreline, however, the occasion was overwhelming for Ray, the man behind guiding Hastings through eight previous FA Cup ties dating back to September 8, when they beat Chatham.
“My highlight was at the final whistle, it was very emotional, full of emotion,”
said Ray, whose players must focus on tomorrow’s game with Wealdstone.
“Throughout this run we’ve tried to keep the players’ feet on the ground, tried not to get too carried away and we’ve done really well, but right at the end, someone came up and stuck a microphone in my face.
“As soon as I got to our supporters it all came out and I don’t think they could understand a word I was saying.
“I couldn’t keep it in. It was just looking at all those supporters and what they have given us. They were brilliant. All of this is for them as much as us. I had my mum and dad in that end, my sons were up there, my niece, my brother-in-law, my uncle, my cousins – there were about 20 of them.