So, it’s FA Cup day once again here at the IP Truck Parts Stadium and for Cables’ third tie of this season’s competition, we take on higher-level opposition. For the first time in the 2021-22 tournament, Cables have been cast as David, having been the (relative) Goliath against Campion and Charnock Richard.

Whitby head west having won six out of their eight League matches to date in the Northern Premier League Premier Division. That’s the sort of challenge that Cables have risen to so often in recent years and the Blues know that absolutely anything can happen in this competition… it’s 25 years since they were involved in one of the most spectacular matches in the old pot’s 150-year history. Mind you, the ending isn’t a happy one; I’d 8-4 it to have happened to Cables!

Let me take you back to November 1996; the Blues, then in the Northern League, had fought their way past Whickham, Garforth Town, Hyde United, Farsley Celtic and Blyth Spartans to be one of the 32 non-League clubs in the First Round Proper. The draw paired Town with Hull City, who were struggling near the foot of the Football League at the time.

The FA declared the Turnbull Ground unsuitable for such a high-profile match, so Whitby took on the Tigers at the ‘Theatre of Chips’ – aka the McCain Stadium, home of the original Scarborough FC. With more than 3,300 fans in the ground, Whitby held their full-time opponents to a goalless draw, setting up a replay at Boothferry Park.

The conventional wisdom that surrounds an imbalanced Cup-tie such as this is that the lower-ranked side gets one shot at a shock; if the match goes to a replay, that favours the team from higher up the food chain. It looked like that theory might hold true in the early stages of the second game between Hull and Whitby, as City took the lead. Undaunted, Whitby, hit back, going 2-1 up and then 4-3 ahead in the second half, helped by two expertly taken penalties.

With less than a minute left of the 90 and the Northern Leaguers still in front, former Tigers manager told the Yorkshire Post what happened next:

“The crowd was getting a bit restless and the police were escorting a fan out of the ground. They had brought him out of the South Stand and were taking him in front of the dugouts, towards the tunnel.

“Just as he went past me, we got the equaliser to make it 4-4. I can’t go into exactly what he said, as his language wasn’t the best. But, basically, he said, ‘You are a lucky so and so, Dolan, as that has just saved your job’. And this was one of our fans, don’t forget.

“All I could do was laugh to myself, smile back at this fan and wave him off down the tunnel.”

Having ‘got out of jail’, the Tigers mauled the Seasiders in extra time, helped by the superior fitness full-time training creates and a rather more direct approach than Whitby had taken. The night is particularly memorable for Hull’s number nine on that chilly Tuesday night, Duane Derby. Derby helped himself to a double hat-trick, to place himself in City folklore.

Having bowed out of the FA Cup after a seven-match run, Whitby didn’t let the disappointment of defeat derail their season. They would rack up 99 points in the Northern League and won the championship by nine points, before ending the season with a second trip to Wembley in the club’s history.

The first time Whitby Town had played under the old Twin Towers had been an FA Amateur Cup Final loss to Hendon, back in the 1960s. More than 30 years later, Whitby were back in the Big Smoke with a much younger, much slimmer version of your correspondent sat among their contingent.  The Class of ’97 proved much too strong for North Ferriby United and romped to a 3-0 win in the FA Vase Final.

Having reached the Fourth Qualifying Round last season, Whitby will pose a tough test for Cables this afternoon, but anything can happen in a Cup tie. Just ask Duane Darby!