Who would have guessed there would ever be another pairing between Wolves and Chorley in the FA Cup? Certainly not Matt Forman, who contacted us soon after those two names came out of the hat together this week.
For the clubs to meet once in the competition is one thing – to be drawn again in opposition now in round four is something else completely, especially as the sixth-tier minnows have never progressed this far before.
Forman scored Wolves’ goal in the first-round replay at Molineux in November, 1986, and has painful, as well as pleasant, memories of the most humiliating episode in the club’s history.
Now living and teaching in Manchester and with a passion through his kids for the blue half of the city, he went all nostalgic when Wolves learned who would be next for them in the Cup after last weekend’s victory over Crystal Palace.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears when the draw was made,” he told us. “I had the ‘honour’ of playing in all three games last time, the irony being that it was when I was playing my best football.
“I was 19, now I’m 53 and it is over 34 years since the original ties. There was no fear or doubt when we learned we would be facing Chorley because we were playing pretty well at the time.
“The Cup was such a big thing growing up in the 70s and 80s and I had never played in it before. Maybe, sub-consciously, the younger players like myself might have been thinking of winning two games and then going to Villa Park or Highbury. Perhaps we took our eye off the fact that non-League sides could be trouble.”
Forman can take us much further, not only with his recollections but with how his personal Chorley tale has continued in the subsequent decades.
“Burnden Park in the mud was not a happy hunting ground,” he added. “There are a couple of uploads of the last game with all three Chorley goals on and there is quite a story from six years ago about how I uploaded my headed equaliser at Molineux on YouTube.
“A neighbour taped the original replay footage from the Midlands news for me but I lost it with moving house and digs while at university in the early 1990s and set about tracking it down a few years ago.
“I got in touch with the Chorley Supporters Club and fortunately they had shown their copy of the film at a 15 or 20-year reunion celebration of their win. A lovely chap there kindly sent me a video cassette, which I had for ages gathering dust apart from when I got it out at parties. I even showed it at our wedding for a laugh!
“I swapped it to CD and then, with the help of the IT techies at work, uploaded it for all to see.
“Not long ago, I noticed that the snippets from the replay at Molineux, including my goal, had had more than 3,000 views. I checked again on Tuesday night, 24 hours on from the Cup draw, and it had been watched over 6,000 times!
“There seems to be no footage of the original game at Bolton, which was the first of the 1-1 draws. The funny thing is that my sister Clare, a retired prison officer, now lives in Chorley…that Lancashire town will always be embedded in my brain.”
Forman has been saddened to hear recently about the plight of Gordon Cowans, a wonderful player of whom he has fond memories from when he cleaned his boots as an apprentice at Villa.
But ‘wonderful’ and ‘fond’ are hardly words that no-one at Wolves uses to describe their Chorley experience…..
“We are part of the DNA of Wolves and their history,” Forman continued. “Another memory I have is that Keith Lockhart played that night, went home to Cambridge with his girlfriend and never returned to the club.
“The game put paid to his professional career. I faced him three years later when he was playing for Cambridge City and I was with Moor Green.”