JJ O'Donnell wants to create new FA Cup memories with Blyth Spartans

J O’Donnell is hoping to create new FA Cup memories at Blyth Spartans as the famous giant-killers reach a century of runs in the competition.

Monday, 20th September 2021, 1:56 pm
Blyth Spartans vice-captain JJ O'Donnell. (Photo credit: Bill Broadley)

The former Gateshead and Luton Town man will be part of the Spartans squad that will travel to FC United of Manchester for a second qualifying round replay on Tuesday night after he scored in a 1-1 draw between the two sides at the weekend.

The tie comes 112 years after Spartans played their maiden tie in English football’s premier cup competition with a 1-1 draw against Washington United and they have gone on to cement as reputation as one of the FA Cup’s most well-renowned giant-killers by taking the scalp of many a Football League club over the years.

The likes of Stoke City, Bury and Hartlepool United have all fell victim to Spartans - with the latter of that quartet falling in a second round tie in front of the BBC Match of the Day cameras in 2014.

Tales of away days at Bournemouth and Blackpool have become the stuff of legend amongst the Croft Park faithful and O’Donnell is hoping to give the Green Army another reason to celebrate this season.

He told The Leader: “I think you are always aware of the history of Blyth Spartans and its history in the FA Cup is key to that.

“I watched the Hartlepool United game on television when Stephen Turnbull pinged that free-kick into the top corner and I remember the scenes after the game.

“There are certain clubs you always connect with the FA Cup, they have that fairytale and Spartans are one of those clubs.

“As a group of players, we want to go on and create something special here and, as this is Blyth Spartans, the FA Cup is a massive part of that.

“FC United are a major test for us, we are well aware of that, but these are the sort of ties you have to come through if you want to go further.”

O’Donnell has already experienced the highs of an FA Cup run during his playing career.

The 29-year-old was part of the Luton Town squad - then of the National League -that claimed shock wins against Wolves and Norwich City on their way to the fifth round of the competition in 2013.

And the midfielder was at Gateshead when the Tynesiders reached the third round in 2015 before succumbing to a heavy defeat at Premier League club West Brom.

O’Donnell will get his latest underway on Saturday and he is hoping to take the opportunity to experience more glory in the competition.

“You can make a name for yourself as a player and as a club in the FA Cup,” he explained.

“You get roughly 15 chances in your career to have a good cup run and you have to take that chance.

“I’’ve been blessed and I have been to the fifth round with Luton and the third round with Gateshead.

“Those memories last forever - now I want more of them.”