Former Buxton player relives memories of the club's last FA Cup first round appearance
As Buxton’s players prepare for a historic day in the FA Cup first round, one of the stars of the club’s last match at this stage has been reminiscing about a similarly memorable run 59 years ago.
Colin Harris had only recently joined the Bucks when they set about navigating their way through the 1962/63 qualifying rounds, seeing off Sutton Town, Belper Town, Arnold St Mary’s and Gainsborough Trinity to set up a first round tie with Division Four outfit Barrow at The Silverlands.
A 2-2 draw meant a replay in Cumbria two days later and after coming through a potentially awkward conversation with his boss, Harris was able to join his teammates on the bus north.
“In those days, they didn’t have floodlights so we had to play in the afternoon, meaning I had to go to a senior manager and ask for a day off,” Harris said.
“I was nervous when I went in and asked for a day off to play football but the manager put me at ease by saying ‘my dear boy, of course you can, best of luck!’.
“I remember more about the replay, mostly because I was publicised for giving away a penalty.
“A national newspaper described me as ‘indefatigable’. I had just joined Shell and I was living with a couple of friends, who immediately christened me with that nickname!
“My main memories of the home game come from the second half, when we were pressing and couldn’t get the extra goal.
“We had a higher crowd than usual and a great team of players who played for each other and ran themselves into the ground.”
A 3-1 defeat in the replay ended Buxton’s progress but the cup run changed Harris’ status, while also proving the first of two memorable runs in a competition which remains the pinnacle for non-league clubs.
“The cup run persuaded me to turn semi-professional,” he said. “I still have the contract somewhere – the vast sum of £4 and £8 if I played in the first team.
“After Buxton, work commitments took me to Guildford and we reached the second round in 1971/72, playing in front of 8,000 people at Shrewsbury Town.
“The FA Cup is still top of the list – I went to my first final with my father in 1950 and success, for us, was reaching the first round. It is a special competition.”
Buxton’s current crop travel to York City on Saturday as one of nine clubs from across the Pitching In Northern Premier, Isthmian and Southern Leagues looking to continue their fairytale runs.All nine, along with more than 200 others, are supported by Pitching In, a landmark grassroots sport investment programme set up by Ladbrokes, with the support of its owner Entain.As well as financial support, the initiative focuses on the community aspect of non-league football and Harris knows just how much this latest cup run will mean to the club and town.“Buxton has always been a friendly club,” he said.
“I remember when we went down to a children’s home one day and the little kids were so pleased to see us – and it was great for us to put something back into society.“The present team have done brilliantly to get this far and even 60 years on from our games at this stage, the love of football is still there among an awful lot of people.“I wish them every good luck. I’ll be watching for the result with great interest and I hope they exceed what we did and go into the second round. I shall be with them in spirit.”
Ladbrokes, with the support of its owner Entain, has launched a multi-million pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports. For more details see: https://entaingroup.com/sustainability/pitching-in/