Westley still resents Arsenal defeat in 2003

Boro boss wants to forget about the last time he took a team to round four of the FA Cup

THE fourth round of the FA Cup is not unchartered territory for Graham Westley.

Back in January 2003 he found himself on the wrong end of a 5-1 scoreline when he took his then Farnborough Town team to Highbury to face Arsenal.

Despite Farnborough being a Conference side taking on the reigning Premier League and FA Cup double-holders, Westley took very little from the whole experience and says it’s something he’s resented ever since.

“I said to the boys at the beginning of the season that it was a bit of an albatross around my neck that game,” said Westley.

“I was surrounded at the time by a part-time team who were hoping to lose well and when I walked away from Highbury that night having been hammered I didn’t feel proud, I didn’t feel as though I’d done a good job and I felt annihilated. It didn’t matter who we were playing, I felt annihilated.

“I’ve managed for 14 years and I think my teams have conceded five goals only twice. I don’t care who it was that did it to me I deeply resent it happening.”

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Westley doesn’t feel there are any similarities between that period at Farnborough and his current spell at Stevenage due to the unparalleled strength in character his current squad embodies.

He is enormously proud of his players and it’s clear he values their qualities as human beings just as much as their ability to perform on the football pitch.

“These boys are much, much better than their current league position there’s no question about that,” added Westley. “There’s a lot of youth here and people like Bossie (Michael Bostwick) will go on to have careers at a very high level make no bones about it.

“There are lads here who probably want to be at Stevenage for the rest of their career and take the club as far as they probably can do. There are others who are probably looking at the market and thinking they can probably go and play in the Premiership in a year or two – that’s what I want from myself.

“But what they are really good at doing is finding their own motivation and they accumulate that motivation as a team. They don’t resent each other for having different ideas about what the future looks like, and they do all they can to help each other get there.

“That’s one of the most powerful things about this place, these boys work so hard for each other to build the futures they all want.”