Draw would mean a Gray day!
PUBLISHED: 15:29 04 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:46 24 August 2010
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By Ben Kosky VICTORY over Rotherham would represent a dream come true for everyone connected with Wealdstone – but one member of the team won t be completely disappointed with a draw. Experienced Stones utility man James Gray grew up in South Yorkshire an
By Ben Kosky
VICTORY over Rotherham would represent a dream come true for everyone connected with Wealdstone - but one member of the team won't be completely disappointed with a draw.
Experienced Stones utility man James Gray grew up in South Yorkshire and spent four years at Rotherham as a schoolboy before forging a career in non-league football.
And, if Sunday's FA Cup first round tie fails to separate the sides, Gray will get the opportunity to return to his roots at the League Two club's current home - Sheffield's Don Valley Stadium.
"I come from Sheffield and Don Valley Stadium is one of my old grounds - I used to play there for Sheffield FC, the oldest club in the world," Gray told the Times.
"It'd be lovely for the family to come down and see me play, that doesn't happen too often. My granddad used to follow me all over the place, but he's getting old now and can't drive long distances.
"My dad works with a lot of Rotherham fans and my step-dad used to work at the Booth scrap metal yard, bang next door to the old Millmoor ground, so there are a few connections.
"I enjoyed it at Rotherham, in the School of Excellence. I'd been at Sheffield Wednesday before and didn't really get on too well there - my parents felt the guy running it was too strict for our age group.
"But my brother had been at Rotherham and they invited me to come down as well. John Breckin [currently assistant manager at Barnsley] ran the School of Excellence and those were good times."
Like the rest of the Wealdstone squad, Gray's FA Cup history is a modest one - the closest he came to facing a league club was travelling to Walsall for a first round tie as a fringe player for Lincoln United.
But the 31-year-old believes the Stones have a chance of upsetting their visitors, whose recent record in the competition is unimpressive and are in patchy form since Ronnie Moore returned to the manager's chair six weeks ago.
"They're a league club, but they're one we think we can get at and really have a go," Gray insisted. "If we weren't going to get a big away draw like Leeds, Charlton or Southampton, we wanted a home tie, with our fans behind us.
"This tie is mostly for the fans - they've been travelling around for ages and not really had their own home until last year, so this is massive.
"These lads haven't been involved in the first round of the FA Cup before and we're going to have to display our non-league game, if you like - get in their faces, don't let them settle and have a lot of luck.
"Rotherham are going to be fitter than us and, if it's 0-0 towards the end, they might have the quality to unpick us - but you never know, down the hill, it just needs a stroke of luck and that'd do!"
Gray is likely to start up front against Rotherham on Sunday, with striker Greg Ngoyi beginning a suspension following his red card at Aylesbury in the previous round.
The Millers, who lie fifth in League Two, have only won once in their last seven games and were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Aldershot Town last weekend.