It probably felt like just another normal day when Sutton United manager Paul Doswell was woken up by his daughters early on Wednesday morning.
But this wasn’t just another normal day.
“Well done Dad” was the shout from his family, as what felt like a dream quickly become a reality.
Just three hours earlier Doswell returned from Green Gander Lane, where he had celebrated one of the most famous nights in the club’s history with players, directors and supporters.
A dramatic 3-1 FA Cup Third Round replay win over SkyBet League One club AFC Wimbledon has sent Doswell and his players into the club’s record books.
And with it comes a large dose of déjà vu.
Their reward for the giantkilling is a televised home tie against Championship giants Leeds United, some fourty seven years after the two teams met at the same stage of the competition.
On that day Don Revie brought his all-conquering Leeds side to Green Gander Lane, as a side containing Johnny Giles, Peter Lorimer, Billy Bremner and Jack Charlton faced a Sutton, who were battling with the likes of Wycombe Wanderers and Enfield for promotion from the Isthmian League.
Now with reality settling in for Doswell, he admitted that the Fourth Round tie will be the biggest occasion in his managerial career.
He said “Last night, from a managerial point of view, was the biggest I have had.
“I have had good days, I’ve had great days, but this was something else.
“When the goals went in, you can’t take that feeling away from me and I will stay with me until the day I die.
“I have experienced the other side of it. I remember being beaten 2-1 by Alton Town with Sutton, they were in the Wessex League, so I have been on the wrong side of shocks and it isn’t nice.
“But now we have Leeds United at home, these occasions don’t come along very often.
“Weirdly we played them in 1970 when they were one of the biggest clubs in England. They had Don Revie and they were champions of England.
“Last night will always be special but Leeds at home will be the biggest day of my career”
Their FA Cup progress was put at risk early in their replay against AFC Wimbledon, as the Dons took a tenth minute lead through Tom Elliott.
Five minutes later the hosts were reduced to ten men when Paul Robinson was shown a red card for hauling down Matt Tubbs.
The Dons held on for an hour, until an equaliser finally came from the right boot of Sutton star Roarie Deacon.
Extra-time looked likely as the clock ticked towards ninety minutes.
But injury time goals from Maxime Biamou and Dean Fitchett secured Sutton’s place in the last thirty two of the competition.
Winning late, as Doswell explained, is something that is becoming a habit in this historic cup run.
“It’s fair to say we like a last minute winner.
“We did it against Forest Green Rovers, we did it against Cheltenham Town and we did it last night.
“I have to pay tribute to my players because they just keep going and going. They just never stop.
“I think ourselves and Lincoln have done non-league proud and long may it continue”
Doswell also paid tribute to his opposite number, AFC Wimbledon manager Neal Ardley saying “I have to say how professional Neal was on the night.
“He stayed and waited over twenty minutes for me to finish celebrating with my family.
“He came and said well done and shook my hand.
“It was our night last night but Neal and his assistant Neil Cox both acted with class.
“They are doing a great job and they are doing the club proud”
The win marks another high point for Doswell during his reign at Green Gander Lane.
Last season the club secured their second promotion during Doswell’s tenure, as a remarkable twenty six game unbeaten run secured promotion into the National League as National League South champions.
They have settled well into life in non-league’s top tier and sit in fifteenth place in the National League table.
The U’S face an FA Trophy Second Round replay against Worthing next week, with the winners hosting Boreham Wood in the Third Round.
With a number of former Football League players now plying their trade with the U’s the future is bright for the club.
And Doswell admitted that the last couple of years had been “a remarkable story”.
“We are in the last thirty two of the FA Cup and we are still in the FA Trophy.
“This team has been put together over the last two years and they are comfortable playing alongside each other.
“Last year was incredible, going twenty six games unbeaten to win the league, that was unbelievable.
“This season we are in good home form and I think we have deserved more points away from home.
“The FA Cup run has added to the excitement.
“The last couple of years have been a remarkable story”
A final word from Doswell goes to the celebrations that finished only hours before his early wake-up call from his family.
“We were back at the club until 5am this morning.
“It’s only sinking in now to be honest but it was a great night.
“My family were there, everyone knows I am family-orientated so to share it with them was special.
“It will live with me for a long time to come”
With Leeds United lying in wait maybe Doswell and his family are yet to witness the most special moment of his career.
Article: Mark Carruthers (@marknldaily)
Images: Reuters Media (Action Images)