Excitement is already building for our huge FA Cup first round clash against Kidderminster Harriers next month and if anyone knows about the romance of England’s most famous cup competition then it’s our very own Jack Muldoon.
Muldoon was part of the Lincoln City side that became the first non-league club in 103 years to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals last season.
The Imps saw off Guiseley in the final qualifying round before defeating Altrincham and Oldham, Championship sides Ipswich Town and table-toppers Brighton and Hove Albion before the real fun began.
They were rewarded with a trip to Premier League side Burnley in the fifth round, securing an against all odds victory to set up a dream trip to the Emirates for boyhood Arsenal fan Muldoon.
Jack relives his love affair with the cup…
“We only really started to get excited when we beat Oldham in the second round,” explained fan’s favourite Jack. “Oldham were struggling in League One at the time but there was still about 25 places between us so it was a big achievement.
“We got drawn at Ipswich in the third round and led the game 2-1 with just five minutes to play. Then one of our lads gave the ball away in the middle of the park and Tom Lawrence scored from about 40 yards.
“We were just five minutes away from going through so we were annoyed with ourselves. We brought them back to our place a few days later and filled the stadium out for the first time in years. That was when the fans really started to get behind us and we managed to nick a 1-0 win.
“Brighton were next up and they were top of the Championship at the time. To beat them 3-1 was incredible. They scored quite early on and led at half-time but then we were awarded a penalty. A lad, Alan Power, who hadn’t been featuring that often stepped up to take the penalty. We were all a little nervous but he tucked it away and we went on to win the game.
“We all watched the draw for the fifth round and I was praying for a big club with the likes of Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal still in the hat. We didn’t get any of the ‘big guns’ but to face Burnley at Turf Moor still made for a very exciting day.
“We had a lad up front called Theo Robinson who scored a lot of goals in the earlier rounds and earned a move to Southend before the game. That gave me a chance to come into the starting line-up.
“We took about 7,500 fans and stuck to a very specific game plan. We divided the game up into 15 minute spells and just tried to get through each. 15 minutes in and it was 0-0 and we were drawing with a Premier League team. We carried that on until the 75 minute and then in the final 15 spell we tried to nick it. We got a corner three or four minutes before the end. It was whipped in and headed back across and the rest is history. We had been doing the same set-pieces all season and they were working so we stuck to our principles and it paid off.
“It was then a case of waiting for to see the result of the Sutton Arsenal game although we had a pretty good idea of the outcome!
“Out of the two, I always wanted Arsenal even though I know we would have beaten Sutton! I’m an Arsenal fan so I can die a happy man knowing that I have played at the Emirates in an FA Cup quarter-final. There aren’t too many others that can say that so it was a privilege to be part of it.
“Sanchez, Ozil and Walcott are my three favourite Arsenal players so to come up against them was amazing. To stand next to Petr Cech and Olivier Giroud in the tunnel when I have been idolising players like that throughout my career was something else.
“The gaffer said before the game we can’t be negative but at the end of the day it’s Arsenal so just go out there and enjoy it. That was our cup final. The manager said that as far as he was concerned, we had already won the FA Cup.
“We were put up in a suave hotel in Westminster with butler service – a little different to the travel lodges we were used to!
“There was a ticket problem at Lincoln and we had thousands of fans queuing up every day and the atmosphere was quality.
“I walked out onto the pitch and couldn’t hear myself think. It was a strange feeling because once the game started I almost forgot about the fans but as soon as the ball went out of play it was like, wow there are a lot of people here!
“I came up against Kosceilny and whilst he isn’t the biggest guy, his core strength is unbelievable because he deals with strikers like Lukaku every week.
“Kieron Gibbs is probably eight stone wet through but at one point he put me on the floor and ran off with the ball! It made me appreciate how good players are at the top level.
“Per Mertesaker came into the changing room afterwards with all the shirts to share out. I wanted Walcott’s, which was missing, so he took me and a few others into the Arsenal dressing room where we had photos and chatted away.
“We were named as the best Non-League team of all time after winning the league, reaching the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and the semi-finals of the FA Trophy.
“We played Sutton away on the Tuesday night straight after in the league so its was right back down to earth!”
Muldoon is now hoping for another cup run with the Coasters: “We haven’t started the season as well as we would have liked but the cup is a different proposition and you can play with a bit more freedom. We are over the first hurdle so there’s no reason why we can’t have a good run. Last season’s run for me was probably once in a lifetime but I set my ambitions high so you never know.
“When I was playing against Guiseley in the qualifying rounds I never dreamed for one second that we would reach the quarter-finals. We drew against Guiseley in the first game and had to go to a replay so we were a bit edge even then!
“We will enjoy it this season and just try to get as far as we can.”