George Parris: Our clash against the Harriers brought back some painful cup memories

I was part of the Birmingham side that was on the receiving end of an FA Cup shock in 1994

Our fourth round FA Cup game against Kidderminster Harriers brought back some bad memories for me.

I was part of the Birmingham City side that was on the receiving end of an FA Cup shock in the third round back in January 1994.

We lost the game 2-1 at St Andrew’s and what made it even worse was that it was a local derby too.

Barry Fry had only been our manager for a month. We were bottom of Division One and the Harriers were flying high at the top of the Conference.

I know Barry was quoted in the past as saying that was the worst day he ever had to suffer and that pretty much summed it up for us on the pitch too.

The result catapulted Harriers into the national spotlight, as they went on to become only the fifth of seven non-league sides to reach the FA Cup fifth round since World War II.

But for me, and for others in the side, the writing was on the wall for our time at Birmingham and I went out on loan elsewhere soon after.

From a West Ham point of view, my worst FA Cup experience in claret and blue was away at Torquay in the third round in January 1990.

Both myself and Leroy Rosenior were struggling with injuries so the night before Lou Macari took us into the freezing sea in a bid to help our recovery.

You look at the side we had then and we shouldn’t have lost but it just shows you regardless of who you have on the pitch, you have to perform on the day.

It’s the beauty of the FA Cup. There’s a one in 100 chance you can get turned over and as we see each year, upsets do happen.

Looking further back, my first FA Cup game for West Ham was against Charlton away in 1985 where we won 1-0. 

I hadn’t been in the team for very long – I think I’d only had a couple of games before Christmas – so it was a good chance for me, especially as it was being televised, to show people what I could do.

And for those fans who remember that season, we also had three games against Ipswich before progressing to the fifth round.

But my favourite West Ham FA Cup memory was the run to the semi final in 91. I scored a few on that run – I was three in three at one point and challenging for the golden boot.

The quarter final against Everton was when I thought it could be our year. We were the underdogs and then after winning that tie, we just felt like anything could happen in the semi final

If only VAR had been around back then, what could have been. The sending off – as many of you will remember – completely ruined the game as a spectacle. 

The semi final was probably the one game that sticks in my mind the most for playing and having that feeling we had been cruelly cheated.

The fans that day – as I know has been written in this fanzine quite a lot over the years – were extraordinary. I never experienced anything like it throughout my career.

I was never involved in a game where you’re on the losing side and the fans reacted how they did that day.

If anyone had walked into that stadium at half time, they would’ve thought it was West Ham winning.

There wasn’t too much conversation immediately after the game apart from just how it was taken away from us with that early sending off.

I don’t think it had sunk in straight away what had happened but certainly when we were on the bus on the way home, the conversation was more about the fans.

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