Physio goes back to his former club this weekend...SADDLERS' physio, Jon Whitney has fond memories of his time as a player at Lincoln City.
The 41 year-old, who has been at Banks's Stadium for almost a decade, was snapped up by then Imps boss, John Beck in October 1995 and went on to play over 100 games for the club.
"My time at Lincoln was the best of my playing career," he said without hesitation. "The club was struggling when I first arrived but John Beck brought in a number of new players at the same time and we all gelled together really well. We had an instant bond because we were all coming into the same situation.
"The team morale was out of this world and we ended up surviving in that first season and then getting promotion in my second season.
"It was a high-energy and enjoyable place to be at that time and although some of Beck's methods were seen as unconventional, they did have the desired effect.
"The City was also a great place to live; my son, Luke, was born there and I continued to live in Lincoln when I joined Hull City. All told, I spent six years of my life in Lincoln and have some very fond memories of the place, so it will be nice to go back on Saturday.
"I always had a good rapport with the fans. I always gave 100% and I would like to think that I contributed to giving them some good times. They appreciated the effort that the players put in and in turn they created an atmosphere that always made it difficult for opposition clubs.
"I remember John Beck helping the supporters set up a band that really enthused us as players on a matchday.
"I always look out for Lincoln's results and sincerely hope that they will be back in The Football League before too long."
The FA Cup has always held a special place in Whitney's heart and he will be looking for progress at the expense of his former club this weekend. "I've never had a great run in this competition, either as a player or during my time here at Walsall," he added. "Hopefully this can be the year when we make progress.
"It will be a difficult tie for us, but if we can match Lincoln for work-rate and effort then I would like to think that our extra quality will shine through.
"These type of one-off matches are what I thrive upon. I used to approach every game as though it was an FA Cup tie. There is no other feeling like FA Cup fever and we have to realise how lucky we are to be playing in this fantastic competition, which is known all over the world.
"FA Cup Final day used to be a big occasion for me whilst growing up. The coverage would start at 9.00am in the morning and the whole family would sit around the television to watch the build-up and then the match itself.
"I always dreamed of playing in the FA Cup and I remember that as a youngster at Winsford United we made it through to the first round proper to face Wrexham. It was such an achievement and although we lost, playing at The Racecourse Ground really whet my appetite and strengthened my love of the competition."