Monday , November 23 2020

FA Cup: Goalkeeper's wife in the labor and rise of supermarket shelf-stacker

FA Cup: Newport 2-0 Middlesbrough highlights

As his Newport teammates were celebrating a stunning FA Cup win over Championship side Middlesbrough on Tuesday, goalkeeper Joe Day was sprinting down the tunnel after hearing his wife had gone to labor.

It summed up a remarkable night for the League two team, who will now face Premier League champions Manchester City in the fifth round on Saturday, 16 February.

Add to the mix the former shelf-stacker who scored the opening goal and a pitch that has already hosted more than 50 games this season – there was FA Cup magic in the air in South Wales.

Day's swift exit for birth of twins

Goalie Joe Day missed the first tie at Riverside Stadium on January 26th because of the possibility of his wife Lizzie going into labor.

Fast-forward 10 days and with Mrs Day seemingly no closer to giving birth to twins, Day opted to play against Middlesbrough and was recalled to the side.

Manager Michael Flynn says his goalkeeper wanted to focus, so he had gone to the news immediately on full-time his wife had indeed gone into labor.

"Please can I leave gaffer?" – he asked me that straight after the game finished, "Flynn said.

"He sprinted off the pitch and it's the quickest I've ever seen him move.

"If they come tonight, what a special, special birthday they'll have."

No hanging around – Joe Day rushed to his pregnant wife in hospital

'When I was stacking shelves I used to think' what have I done? ''

Winger Robbie Willmott returned to Newport in 2017, having been part of the side promoted to the Football League in 2013, when he was a team-mate of his current manager.

The 28-year-old was released by the Exiles in 2014 and after spells with Ebbsfleet, Bishop's Stortford and Chelmsford, he won the game and took a job in his local supermarket.

Willmott, who's house-shares with team-mates including Joss Labadie across the road from Rodney Parade, says he never expected to enjoy a night like beating Middlesbrough.

"I've had highs and lows, but everyone knows what the club means to me and my bond with supporters," Willmott said after scoring his first goal of the season.

"I never imagined this, I could not have dreamed it, I took a lot of things for granted, but just think you'll keep getting contracts … but unfortunately I was cut.

"When I was stacking shelves I used to think 'what have I done?' A lot of people said I should have played at a higher level, but I was thinking 'this is probably me now'.

"I have looked back on my career and thought 'I've wasted my career'. But I managed to work and work hard and got myself back in the league."

His manager Flynn added: "He should have played his career higher.

"He is unbelievable really. I've got the best Robbie Willmott now because he is fully focused, not immature anymore and he is a joy to work with. Even the house that the players all share, he takes responsibility and he has really grown since I first knew him. "

Guardiola heads to one of British sports's busiest pitches

More than 50 games have been played on the Rodney Parade pitch already this season

For Newport, this FA Cup starts with a visit to Police and will now take over in Manchester City.

They share a ground with both rugby union Pro14 side Dragons and Welsh premiership outfit Newport RFC, meaning the ground is already closing in on hosting 60 games this season.

So what will Pep Guardiola and artistic players like Sergio Aguero and David Silva make of playing at a ground nicknamed locally as Dave Parade (see Trigger for answers).

"We have had Mauricio Pochettino, Claude Puel, Thomas Christiansen, they are all fantastic managers but this is the creme de la creme. He is a master, somebody that I just idolise and probably the best in the business, along with Jurgen Klopp, because I am a Liverpool fan, "Flynn said.

"Mikel (Arteta, City assistant manager) has just messaged me with good luck and said:" See you soon. We did the Uefa pro license together, and that goes to show you how to go to earth they are. good he is, I'm sure they will cope with that pitch.

"That's something for them to worry about. I know we try and play football in the right way. We went to the ball in tough conditions and they will do the same.

"We've got to be prepared – I might play nine at the back. It's overwhelming, it's massive.

"I really can't explain how I feel this time.

"I've been very nervous about this, not because of the game because I knew what it meant for the whole football club, the whole city. These supporters deserve everything because these supporters have been through the mill. It's a club that I love . "

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