FA Cup preview: The master and the apprentice

THE MASTER: Former Bury Town centre-half and West Suffolk College coach Ian Miller, left, who now plays for Cambridge United
THE MASTER: Former Bury Town centre-half and West Suffolk College coach Ian Miller, left, who now plays for Cambridge United

Sam Nunn is dreaming of a place in the FA Cup first round proper, as the apprentice looks to get one over on his former mentor Ian Miller.

Tomorrow’s mouth watering visit of Skrill Conference Premier Division leaders Cambridge United will see the centre-half come face-to-face with his one time West Suffolk College coach and Bury Town teammate as the sides do battle in the fourth qualifying round.

THE APPRENTICE: Needham Market's Sam Nunn, right, who moved to the club from Bury Town in the summer

THE APPRENTICE: Needham Market's Sam Nunn, right, who moved to the club from Bury Town in the summer

It was Miller’s departure into the professional ranks with Ipswich Town in 2006 that paved the way for Nunn to establish himself at Ram Meadow and he is now relishing the opportunity to test himself against his former colleague and teacher.

“I remember playing with Ian in my debut when I was 17 in the Ridgeons League and I was also involved in the game that led to him going to Ipswich,” he said. “The funny thing is him leaving left a gap for me and allowed me to break through into the first team.

“He was also my coach at West Suffolk College so it will be nice to come face to face with him again.

“It will also be great for me personally to test myself against a player who has played professional football week in and week out.”

Turning his attention back to the big occasion, Nunn, who was part of the Bury team who lost 4-2 to Alfreton Town in the first round back in 2008, will be looking to play the mentor role himself with his experience as he sets his sights on a return to the next round with a famous upset.

“Despite reaching the first round this feels like a bigger occasion,” he added. “It will certainly be one of the biggest games I’ve been involved in.”

“I know that will be the case for some young players in our squad and the only bit of advice I would give them is just to take the whole occasion in and enjoy it.

“I remember just not 
taking anything for granted and as long as we all 
pull together we will be fine.

“Players like Keiran Morphew have been excellent this year so I would just say to him keep doing what he has been.

“Everyone at the club can’t wait, it is a massive occasion and we’re all really excited.

“We’re the last club flying the Suffolk flag now and even though we know we are the massive underdogs, we have the home draw and if we play well then you never know what might happen.

“Having played in the first round proper before, it would be amazing to get there again, we just need to get over the final hurdle.

“It is a massive thing for any player at our level to play at this stage. The whole day is a massive occasion.

“However, it is not just for us players, the whole day will be for the fans and everyone, it will be massive for the whole club.

“As a team we just don’t want to let anyone down, everyone is up for it and, you never know, we might just cause a shock.”

Meanwhile, Miller, who also enjoyed stints with Boston United, Darlington and Grimsby Town before moving to the R Costings Abbey Stadium in the summer, has fond memories of his former pupil, but is well aware the 24-year-old will be out to prove a point in tomorrow’s clash.

“I remember coaching Sam and he reminded me very much of myself, he was always very eager to learn and has adapted well as a player at Bury and now with Needham,” he said. “He was very young when we were together at Bury, I’m sure he’ll be itching to get one over me.

“It will add that bit of spice to see him but so will facing their former professionals who will all have a point to prove.

“At the end of the day it is an FA Cup game and anything can happen.”

That opportunity of a memorable cup upset is 
what has bred such excitement and anticipation ahead of this round’s stand-out tie as Needham aim to write 
themselves into FA Cup folklore.

Despite acknowledging the threat of becoming the next well-known cup scalp, Miller is adamant being favourites is a position his side should savour.

“I think any FA Cup tie has that sparkle to it and it is just important to us as it is to Needham,” he added.

“The chance of a giant killing always draws people to the competition and for me, us being favourites counts for nothing, we certainly won’t be taking things lightly.

“However, I don’t think we can be fearful of it, if you have that mentality there’s a good chance it will happen.

“With the run we are on, every team wants to beat us, but it is a position we should relish being in.”