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Michael Gynn

Eleven years ago Michael Gynn was one of Coventry City's heroes - a member of the team which won the FA Cup for the first time in the club's 105 year history.

This season he has again been playing in the oldest cup competition in the football world, but aeons away from the adulation of the Wembley thousands.

Michael, now 38 and a postman in Coventry, plays his football for Stafford Rangers in the Dr Martens League Midland Division. But because the FA Cup embraces all professional and semi-professional football, he has once again been enjoying its magic.

Stafford played Bedworth United in a recent round of the competition in front of a few hundred spectators, a far cry from Gynn's days at Coventry City when his own unofficial fan club included more people.

He missed this week's second qualifying round of the Cup because of an infected shin.

"I received a gash on my shin in a match a few weeks ago and had several stitches inserted," he reports.

"I played a couple of games with padding on the wound, but now it is infected and I have been told by the doctor that I must rest up. I am sorry I missed Stafford's match against Belper Town in the Cup because the old magic of the competition is still there for me."

He can rest easy however because his team mates beat Belper 2-1 without him and now the Rangers go into the draw for the next round so he has a chance of extending his Cup dream.

"It is vastly different to what I experienced with Coventry City," he admits. "But then so few professional footballers get the chance to play in a Cup Final at Wembley so I was very lucky in that respect.

"There have been some top class players who have had long and illustrious careers in the game yet never played in a Cup Final. There is an element of luck involved in getting to Wembley. Because the Cup is a knock out competition it all depends how a team performs on the day - that is why there are Cup upsets. That is its magic.

"In no other competition can a top division club be knocked out by a non-league side. It happened to Coventry City two years after winning the Cup - they lost to little Sutton United. Can you imagine the excitement among the Sutton people in the build up to that match and the euphoria afterwards? Only the FA Cup brings that to football. It is unique."

The smaller clubs have to battle their way through preliminary rounds and then the qualifying rounds before they get to the competition proper. It is then that the chosen few just might get the chance to play against the big clubs.

First they get the chance to play against Nationwide League clubs in the first and second rounds of the Cup. The Premiership clubs come in at the third round stage in January. It was at that stage that little Sutton played Coventry City.

So Michael still has a chance of playing against one of the big clubs right at the end of his football career.

Stafford have beaten Boldmere St Michaels, Bedworth United and now Belper Town so they will be feeling that maybe, just maybe, this is their year to pull off a giant-killing act.

Michael has his fingers crossed that he can be part of it.

"It's incredible to me that here I am playing in the FA Cup, yet it is a million miles away from the competition as I knew it at the professional level.

"Stafford's manager Ian Painter, who also played for Coventry some years ago, asked me to bring in my winners' medal to show the other players when we started this year's competition. They were interested to see it, but they were not very impressed by it.

"Maybe it does not look impressive as an object, but it means so much to a footballer to be able to say he has won one."

Michael's professional career began with Peterborough United and it was Bobby Gould who signed him for Coventry City. He went straight into the first team and played more than 250 games before moving on to Stoke City, Malta and into non-league football with Kettering, Corby and now Rangers.

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