Devil in the Detail

ARGYLE host Carlisle United on Saturday in the first round of the Emirates FA Cup - a tie that will not faze the cup veteran Gary Sawyer.

When Sawyer was just 19 years old and playing for derby rivals Exeter City, the Grecians were drawn against Premier League giants Manchester United. The clash saw Gary and his team-mates play United at Old Trafford, where they managed to come away with a draw, earning a lucrative replay. For Exeter, a hard-up conference side at the time, the draw was a stroke of luck to help financial issues that were well documented at the time. 

“I think [Exeter] were struggling at the time," said Gary. "They really needed it and luck being on their side that day, it managed to draw us against them. 

"For a little club like Exeter, to go up there and do that - it set the club up really well. That's the sort of thing the FA Cup can do for you. For little clubs, it can save them, a bit. 

"We had a good side, we had a good go of it. I can remember everything about it, but it was just a mad game to go out in front of a crowd that sort of size. To get a draw up there as well was just something you couldn’t write really.

“The occasion and everything, playing at the stadium and playing against Man United is a great feeling and something you can only ever dream of happening to you.

When Alex Ferguson’s side visited the West Country the team boasted the likes of Paul Scholes, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs who were all handed starts after the draw in the first game. Ferguson’s side expectedly came away with a 2-0 win when Ronaldo and Rooney found the back of the net.

"It helped they rested quite a few of their players when we played them up there, we weren’t so lucky when they came back down here,” recalls Sawyer. 

Unfazed by Ronaldo, who was evidently a good player back then, though Gary was more impressed by Scholes: “I’d have said Scholes was the best out of all of them when we played them. Rooney was obviously Rooney but Scholes was just unmarkable.”

Should Argyle get past Carlisle then navigate through the second round, they would be in with a chance of their own dream draw. Despite all the excitement of being top of Sky Bet League 2, the FA cup still holds its charms. 

Gary said: "We’re in really good form in the league so it’d be nice to carry this on in the league, but the FA Cup is the FA Cup and if we can get through this round then hopefully we’ll see what happens in the next round."