FA Cup tie at Peterborough was fantastic ... as was my tackle on Gary Breen!
It’s the tackle on Gary Breen that Darin Killpartrick remembers the best.
That was his most memorable moment from his brief adventure in the second round of the FA Cup – a day he can still recall vividly 24 years later.
Killpartrick is coach of Chichester City and was last night at the Wycombe-Tranmere first-round replay for a spot of scouting and to see who Chi will visit in round two on Sunday week.
And when he passes on information to the City players about what to expect, he can speak from experience in telling them how special it is for them to be one game away from that prized third round, the stage when the biggest teams get involved.
Killpartrick was in the last Bognor squad to reach the ‘proper’ rounds, in the 1995-96 season. They beat Ashford in a first-round replay to earn the trip to London Road to play the Posh, then of Division Two (today’s League One).
“I was quite new to Bognor, I think it was my second season,” says the man they call Dabba.
“I’d been in and out of the side and for the Peterborough game, Jack Pearce picked Graham Marriner over me for his experience but I was on the bench.
“By the time I came on we were 4-0 down! At least I helped us avoid letting in any more. It was a fantastic experience.
“We’d been disappointed in a way to draw Ashford in the first round, but a game like that does get you nearer the really big one – like Chi’s first-round bye did this year.
“We went up to Peterborough and stayed in a hotel and the fire alarm went off at 5am. Not what we needed!
“I recall loads of Rocks fans greeting us when we got off the coach at the ground – and the home fans singing ‘Where’s your caravan?’ to me as I had long hair!
“When I went on, the game was lost, but I made a really good tackle on Gary Breen, the Irish international. Earlier he’d knocked out my team-mate and good friend Marc Rice so I was never going to miss that tackle!”
Bognor went home without the third-round draw to look forward to and have never got to the ‘proper’ rounds since, so Killpartrick the player never tasted such FA Cup glory again.
But he is enjoying doing so now as one of the management team at Oaklands Park – and is impressing upon the City players the need to enjoy every moment, something they may never experience again.
“I’m trying to drum that into the players but also into the whole club. For Chi, this run has been so out of the blue and you have to admit the chances of it happening again in the near future are remote. I’m telling everyone to savour it and remember the games and the goals.”
Chi have come through six rounds of qualifying and that first-round bye to reach this stage. They’re the first club for 70 years to get this far having played in the extra preliminary round.
And Killpartrick says an ingredient the Bognor team of the mid-1990s also had has helped City succeed.
“There’s an incredible team spirit about them, and there was in that Bognor side,” he says. “It’s a special bond. Most of our players are local, a lot of them have come through Chi College and the university, so they’re also a great advert for the city’s education system.
“That togetherness has got us a long way, and so has hard work and a bit of luck.”
In a nice twist to the tale, another of that Rocks team of 95-96 was midfielder Guy Rutherford, pictured left with Killpartrick, who is now involved – along with brother Miles, the manager – at City.
Killpartrick says: “Guy looked after me when I went to Bognor. He is a great friend.
“And he has done a lot behind the scenes at Chichester to make sure the club have kept going and have been in a position from where this cup run’s been possible.”
Typically, Killpartrick is not focusing on the Cup tie just yet: “We’ve got a league game at Phoenix Sports first. You know me, I don’t allow anyone to get ahead of themselves...”