An emotional Gary Hackett was lost for words after his Stourbridge side were knocked out of the FA Cup by SkyBet League Two side Wycombe Wanderers in a dramatic Third Round tie.
The Glassboys reached the Third Round for the first time in their long history and were within minutes of forcing a replay back at their War Memorial Ground after Dan Scurr got the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League club back on level terms.
A scrappy goal from Wanderers’ Sam Wood had given them the lead, but once Scurr had equalised it looked as if Hackett’s side had earned themselves another crack at a famous giantkilling.
However, with seven minutes left on the clock Adebayo Akinfenwa broke their hearts as he headed home a winner and sent the Chairboys into Round Four for the first time since 2001, when they went on to reach the semi-finals.
After the game Hackett stood in front of over 2,400 Stourbridge supporters and was urged to say some words to them after having a microphone thrust upon him.
The former West Bromwich Albion player is, by his own admission, not an emotional person but did have “a lump in the throat” as he witnessed the adulation poured onto his players.
He said “It was a proud day, a very special day, and not just for me and the players.
“It was special for the volunteers at the club, for the directors, for everybody connected with Stourbridge.
“We had over 2,400 people supporting us and we could have had another 1,000 there I think.
“There is disappointment, but it is disappointment for the right reasons.
“The reception we had from our supporters was emotional and I am not normally an emotional person with things like this.
“I had a microphone given to me to say some words and I have no idea what I said, I hope it made sense!.
“But it was tough and I had a lump in the throat, it was a special day all round”
Hackett also paid tribute to his Wanderers counterpart Gareth Ainsworth.
The former QPR winger stood and applauded Stourbridge off the pitch at the end of the game, a move that Hackett believes showed respect and class towards his club.
“He was a class act, a top football man and we respect him greatly.
“Before the game he said win, lose or draw come into my office and we will have a pint together.
“Not just that, but he played a full-strength side, that showed respect.
“We have had it the other way twice with Steveange and Graham Westley, they lacked respect for us when we played them.
“But Gareth Ainsworth and everyone at Wycombe Wanderers acted with dignity and class, we can’t respect them anymore than we do right now”
Stourbridge had reached the Third Round of the competition for the first time in their history, despite reaching the “proper rounds” of the competition on a number of occasions in the last eight years.
That record will be the envy of non-league clubs throughout the country and now, after finally reaching the Third Round, Hackett is up for the challenge of reaching it again in the near future.
“I think we are one of the most successful non-league clubs in the country when it comes to reaching these rounds.
“The Third Round was new, and it was exciting, I hope we can do it again but we know how tough that will be.
“The competition has been good to us and we appreciate it.
“It’s been a great journey and it is strange because one week you are talking to Sky Sports News, the Times and the BBC and then this week that all goes away.
“It brings you back down to earth really.
“But now we focus on the league and we have a tough game against Barwell in the League Cup in midweek before going to Skelmersdale United on Saturday in the league.
“We have a challenge ahead of us but it is one that we will make sure the players are up for”
And after the season Stourbridge are having nobody would rule that out.
Article: Mark Carruthers
Images: Reuters Media (Action Images)