“At the moment they’ve only matched us” John Smith and Peter Skerritt remember their Bracknell Town FA Cup heroics

Bracknell Town striker John Smith on the back pages of the Wokingham Times.
Bracknell Town striker John Smith on the back pages of the Wokingham Times.

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On Saturday 18th November 2000, Bracknell Town created a little piece of FA Cup history as they walked out at Sincil Bank in the FA Cup First Round Proper for the first time in the clubs history.

It was a momentous day for the club with hundreds of Robins supporters decamping up to Lincolnshire for the famous day that Bracknell will now repeat on Monday night when they welcome Ipswich Town to Bottom Meadow for the 2022/23 installment of the FA Cup First Round.

Two players vital to the clubs run were centre-forward John Smith and centre-back Peter Skerritt who formed a vital spine for the club, scoring goals and keeping them out the other end.

The match has certainly bought back some memories for Robins strikerSmith who played a vital role in Bracknell’s run: “I’m going and I’m really looking forward to it. There’s a few of us going from the old team so it’ll be a bit of a get together.

“People have stopped and asked me about it and the Lincoln City game recently. It’s been great! I’ve spoken a bit to Mark Tallentire as well and there’s going to be a few of us there, there’s loads from that team that I haven’t seen for ages.

“At the moment they’ve only matched us, and of course we started a round earlier!”

When talking about the current Bracknell side, Smith said with a smile: “At the moment they’ve only matched us, and of course we started a round earlier!”

Bracknell’s run began with Hillingdon Borough away in the Preliminary Round followed by Ashford Town (Kent) away then home ties with Merstham and Banstead Athletic before a famous day out at Aylesbury United’s Buckingham Road where a Gary Holzman penalty won the day.

Smith said: “We were down to 10-men, we’d had Giles Marchant sent off, but this was a huge scalp. They were two divisions higher than us and had a ground good enough to host England training sessions.

“That penalty, I never saw what happened, someone just said ‘Ossy’s [Dave Osgood] been hit.”

“You’ve got to remember then, we were all just mates playing together. There were 100s fans at the Aylesbury game and we knew most of them from the pub. Then there was the draw on Sky, we were still at Aylesbury when we drew Lincoln, Aylesbury were gutted.”

The Lincoln game holds mixed emotions for Smith: “We stayed in Nottingham for the Lincoln game. All the fans were staying in Lincoln. I had a mate come up to watch and he’d brought his girlfriend, I think it was their first date. I was in the Lincoln papers but it ended up being a phone call because we were in Nottingham.

The funny thing was though the [William] Twigg and [Silver] Birch regulars came up and so they told me, still managed to find different pubs to drink in. It was amazing being in the ground, warming up and seeing 100s of faces you knew.

“There was the streaker as well. I think I was the nearest he could get to and he gave me a kiss. Their defender who’d been marking me was really pissed off though, apparently they’d had a few pitch invaders and he was likely to get banged up. Next thing I see though he’s having a drink with the chairman.

“After the game though we went back to Nottingham, obviously we had a good drink but it’d have been great to be with the fans. We enjoyed it, we were all mates and we were just messing about. We’d all then usually be out on a Sunday morning playing against each other in the Sunday League.

“I’ve seen Bracknell a few times this season in the cups. They’re a good side but like I said so far they’ve only matched what we did, that’s their challenge.”

Peter Skerritt – “Aylesbury though were really really good. It was an onslaught.”

Centre-back Skerritt had a different view to Smith’s, not least a front row seat to the heroics of young goalkeeper Lee Cobby in the Fourth Qualifying Round win over Aylesbury.

Peter, who moved away from the area for work, said: “I see and I follow the results especially when the FA Cup comes around. There are two teams I have fond memories of my time with, Chertsey Town and Bracknell.

“I was surprised when Larges Lane went. It’ll be my first time back in a long time. I have not seen any of the lads for a long long time.

“We had a great team, I loved my time with Bracknell. You had me and Brian Bere at centre-back, we had Keith Pennicott-Bowen in front of us, I can’t forget Mark Franks on the wing!

“That season was so good. It was enjoyable and I had a good feeling about it. You never know though, when we beat Hillingdon I just thought, well who’s next. It was just another game.

“Aylesbury though were really really good. It was an onslaught. The Ducks were always a good side but we had a great spirit and we just thought we could do it. And as it went on we really believed we could.”

Talking of an onslaught, one man who single-handedly kept the Robins in the Aylesbury tie was young goalkeeper Lee Cobby, only playing due to an injury to Martin Hutt. Skerritt said: “Yeah Cobby, you’re playing in the game okay, we’re doing okay, then we score and Cobby is pulling off saves left right and centre.

“I was having a great year, I think I won player of the season but that boy in that game.

“In the end I was just thinking ‘please blow the whistle’, we might have only been playing 50 minutes but it’s a blur.

“For the team, Aylesbury was where we bonded. We had to get to the First Round after all that. Lincoln was a great day but Aylesbury is the one that meant the most. I loved my time at Bracknell, I was living in Forest Park so it was easy for me.

“It’ll be great to go back on Monday night and see the boys. I am looking forward to it.”

Bracknell Town in the FA Cup

Everything you need to know ahead of Bracknell Town vs Ipswich Town is right here.

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