'I wish I was 20 years younger for games like this' - Hornchurch boss on Notts County draw

Hornchurch celebrate sealing victory away to Darlington in the FA Trophy

Hornchurch celebrate sealing victory away to Darlington in the FA Trophy - Credit: Andy Futers

Hornchurch manager Mark Stimson wishes he was still a player after they were drawn to play Notts County away in the FA Trophy semi-final. 

The Urchins will make the trip to Meadow Lane on the weekend of March 27 as they look to battle it out for a place at Wembley in the final of the cup competition. 

This is the toughest challenge yet as they face the biggest club in non-league football at present. 

“Can you name me a bigger National League side than Notts County," Stimson said. "They’re the biggest one in history [Notts County are the oldest professional club in the world], and biggest club in support. 

“The little pub team from Hornchurch have got to play them, what a great game, and these are the times you think I wish I was 20 years younger. Cor, what would I do now to have three weeks' preparation to play at Notts County. 

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“It’s a fantastic draw for us, delighted with it, and we’ll be ready to enjoy it.” 

He added: “I think if we can get to where we were before the Darlington game that would be great because we were bang on it. Saying that, we have been in every cup game as we’ve known it could be our last game. 

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“You have to take a deep breath and think what could be after that. I’ve been very fortunate and had two cup finals at Wembley. I’ve been in both changing rooms and know what it’s like. 

“It’s the same for Notts County, so as much as we want it they will want it. So if we can just do what we have, then hopefully that’s enough.” 

Strikers Liam Nash and Sam Higgins have been impressive on the Trophy run but that hasn’t surprised the boss. 

“We took Sam in the summer and we thought he would be that experienced number 9. Last season we had Jamie Cureton and Adam Cunnington, but we decided to take Sam instead of those two.

Hornchurch scoring a second goal away to Darlington in the FA Trophy

Hornchurch scoring a second goal away to Darlington in the FA Trophy - Credit: Andy Futers

“Unfortunately he got injured in the first 20 minutes of the first game of the season. He didn’t play again until very recently. He’s been back for this cup run and he does what his T-shirt says - the lad scores goals. Wherever he plays he score goals. 

“When you sign players like Sam, his T-shirt says I score goals. When I signed Rickie Hayles, his T-shirt says I stop goals. Same as Joe Wright. 

“If I sign Joe Christou or Ollie Muldoon, their T-shirts say I don’t stop running. Liam Nash’s says I've been a professional, it didn’t quite work out, but I want to be again so how do I get there? By scoring goals and creating goals. 

“Now he’s got his fitness levels up, he’s doing that, so I'm not surprised by those two players.” 

Stimson added: “I know what I'm going to get from the group and what I expect. They’re the same, it’s a special and great group.” 

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