Warnock gets his way and Burton are able to hold their heads high
NEIL WARNOCK remembers "a day of pure excitement" the last time Burton Albion played Leicester City in the third round of the FA Cup.
Warnock, setting out on an eventful management career, led Burton in the Cup run of 1984-85 which took them to a tie against Leicester, then of the old First Division.
Then, the Brewers were in the Northern Premier League and the gulf between the sides was much greater than it will be in this Saturday's tie, although it is safe to say that the Leicester City of today are a significantly wealthier club.
"When we reached the third round, perhaps it was inevitable but the media interest got in the way of training and everything at the time," said Warnock, now manager of Leeds United.
"There were one or two lads who didn't train as hard as perhaps they should have for our game. They have to enjoy it but they have to be disciplined to make sure that it's enjoyable.
"The day will go by so quickly. I told our lads to enjoy it but to be organised because we didn't want a stuffing."
Even with a side now full of seasoned League Two professionals, Warnock's words have a resonance today.
His advice to the Brewers of 1985 was going well at first. Leicester opened the scoring at the Baseball Ground but Burton equalised with a rare goal from centre-half David Vaughan and were holding their own when goalkeeper Paul Evans was felled by a chunk of wood thrown from the Osmaston End.
After that, the stuffing happened, as Leicester fired five more goals past a groggy Evans.
Warnock was quick to pounce on a perceived injustice and it was he who instigated the campaign which got Burton a replay.
"I don't think we would have got thrashed without the Paul Evans missile incident," he said.
"It was only after that we conceded goals.
"What bothered me after Paul was injured was that the referee and the hierarchy didn't seem concerned enough about it.
"I remember the referee telling me there was no way they'd replay it.
"We were just the little non-League team, they were treading on us and we didn't deserve it.
"So the next day, I got in touch with John Sadler at The Sun, who was very influential at the time.
"He took it on board and the next thing a campaign had started and we got a replay.
"It was a shame it was without a crowd at Highfield Road. They scored very early on but we battered them for about 20 minutes after that and they knew they'd been in a game."
Burton bowed out 1-0, their heads held high, justice done.
It had taken them seven games, starting with a 4-0 win at Wootton Blue Cross in Bedfordshire in September, to reach the Leicester tie.
Along the way, they knocked out Wycombe Wanderers, then one of the most powerful non-League sides, and Aldershot, the Division Four side who were a different club to the current Aldershot Town.
Warnock cannot forget the day at Aldershot, when the Brewers won 2-0, and neither can any Burton fans who are old enough to have been there.
"We got Aldershot in the second round, which was great for me because they were one of my old clubs and we won comfortably," said Warnock.
"One of the best memories of that day for me was looking out of the changing rooms and seeing the trains pulling in with everybody and their grannies hanging out of the windows with Burton scarves on.
"We were in the dressing room afterwards for the draw and it seemed like an eternity. I think we were about the last ones out of the hat.
"When we came out against Leicester, who were a First Division club then, it was like a fantastic dream."