Tranmere v Chichester one year on - a memorable FA Cup occasion remembered
A year ago today, Chichester City experienced the greatest occasion they've ever known.
It was on December 1, 2019, that the minnows from Oaklands Park travelled to Prenton Park to face Tranmere Rovers - a side from five tiers above them in the football pyramid - in the FA Cup.
City's route to the second round was remarkable. They'd started out a full four months earlier in the extra preliminary round and had won through six rounds to reach the first round proper.
That was excitement enough but the draw for that first round had a spare team in it because of Bury's withdrawal from league and cup competitions amid a financial crisis, and fate handed the resultant bye to Miles Rutherford's team. You couldn't write it.
So it was that after the first round, which Chi were able to sit back and watch, the BBC TV cameras and crew rolled up at Oaklands Park for the second round draw, where City were given an away tie against Wycombe or Tranmere. Rovers won the replay between those two to give Chi's players, staff and fans a big weekend away in Liverpool, the centrepiece of which was the tie, shown live on BT Sport.
For an hour City matched their hosts. Could the impossible happen? As it turned out, no.
Tranmere got the breakthrough - though they needed Chi captain Connor Cody to be off injured when they grabbed the all-important opening goal - and the floodgates open. Rovers went on to score five but fittingly, Chi had the last say as Ryan Peake nodded in a consolation goal that sent the home travelling fans wild.
Afterwards all agreed it had been a Cup run - and a day - to savour, one which all involved would remember for many years. It''s been a funny old year since, with competitive football at Chi's level suspended for six months and another month-long break from action just ending, all caused by the pandemic and by lockdown restrictions.
In fact the financial blows Chi have suffered through having no home games for so long have been partly soaked up by some of the big money they made from that run last year - another reason to be grateful for what we saw 12 months ago.
Below are links to some of our coverage from the day. Read it and watch it again and enjoy a football story that made national headlines and that the players and coaches who made it happen can rightly talk about for years to come...