Former Dundalk manager eyes FA Cup upset against West Ham
Jan. 11, 2021
Former Dundalk manager and current Stockport boss Jim Gannon believes a win over his boyhood club West Ham in the third round of the FA Cup on Monday evening would be the greatest result in County's history.
Gannon, who started his management career with the Lilywhites, was a Hatters player when they first drew with the Hammers at Upton Park then beat them in a replay en route to the 1996-97 League Cup semi-finals - a season when they won promotion to what is now the Sky Bet Championship.
They finished eighth the following campaign in the old First Division but tumbled down the football pyramid to the extent that they were in the sixth tier National League North and run part-time as recently as two years ago.
While they are now eyeing a return to the Football League, West Ham are currently in the top half of the Premier League so Gannon recognises that a cup upset would eclipse any other victory in the club's history.
"We were a League One side, we were assembled with some players who were very good in League One and some that had come from the Championship," Gannon said, when reflecting on the League Cup win over West Ham.
"Now we're playing a team that's four levels above us in the top half of the league, a really strong first-team group and if they rotate from their bench to freshen their side up, we're facing a really tough ask.
"If our players were to achieve success against them, I'd have to say they would go down in our folklore.
"It would outshine any win in our history, whether it be the 1996-97 team or before that. I don't think Stockport have beaten somebody so far up the tree as this. It would be brilliant for our players.
"But we have to focus on the game and make sure we give a good account of ourselves because we know these games can have wonderful outcomes but we want to make sure we don't come off that pitch saddened by the way we've played.
"We have to make sure we've played to our best and maximised ourselves and then I'll be proud of them, whatever the result."
Gannon recalls "walking on air" when he played at the Boleyn Ground in November 1996, having been an avid follower of West Ham while he was growing up in London.
He admitted to still owning a mirror he bought in 1978 emblazoned with the club's achievements, but added:
"It's that old it doesn't have the honours from the 1980 FA Cup win. I'll have to get it out and show it to the world!"
Gannon admits those allegiances are not what they once were, having made close to 500 appearances as a player for Stockport, where he has lived for much of his adult life and is now in his third stint as manager of the club.
"As you get involved in football, you lose a little bit of a connection to your boyhood team," he added.
"But it is a nice moment, whether to play Upton Park as a player or whether to manage against somebody I have total respect for in David Moyes and his West Ham team."