The early 1990s were exciting times for Marlow Football Club: a combination of “the luck of the draw” and some inspired management from the partnership of Dave Russell and Laurie Craker resulted in several spectacular FA Cup matches.

Season 91/2 saw the Club reach the First Round Proper (when the Football League Clubs come in) for the first time that century. 

A visit to The Hawthorns to play West Bromwich Albion was memorable although of course Marlow were well beaten. The next season 92/3 Marlow again managed to reach the First Round but met Non-League opposition at home in the form of Salisbury City and needed a replay and a penalty shoot-out to scrape past them.

Another non-league club in Round 2: away to V.S.Rugby. 0-0, and another replay, this time at home, needed. In the meantime the draw for Round 3 was made: the winners would be at home to Tottenham Hotspur.

That replay was an incredibly nail-biting game. Marlow won 2-0, but then the problems started. The Club came in for much criticism for “switching” the 3rd Round tie to White Hart Lane. 

BBC’s Bob Wilson was especially vitriolic. But in fact there was no choice: it was done on police advice. Although Marlow’s Alfred Davis Ground (capacity 3000) had areas capable of being segregated, home and away, it was pointed out that Spurs fans would arrive in their thousands to buy advance “home” tickets. Proof of address would mean little as many Spurs fans live in this area.

Had there been a home draw v Liverpool or Manchester United or anyone a fair distance away, the police might have allowed a home game.

Many supporters said the club should have ignored this official advice: but almost impossible when you had to ask for a large police contingent to control the expected capacity crowd. They could have refused.

So, it was played at White Hart Lane, on January 2nd 1993, but as it was still classed as a Marlow home fixture Marlow had the job of producing the match programme – a bit of a collectors’ item today.

A 27,000 crowd turned up; 3,000 packing the “away” end, and the Match of the Day cameras were in place. A Marlow win would have been the biggest FA Cup upset of all time, against the high-flying Spurs, then managed by Terry Venables.

After a nervous start Marlow did OK but eventually lost 5-1. Everyone will remember the Marlow goal scored by David Lay in front of a delirious away end.

However, there was a point, at 3-1 down, when Marlow’s unpredictable forward Ansil Bushay missed two golden chances in front of goal. It could easily have changed the game.

Pictures above: the match poster and the programme, front and rear covers; team photo half an hour before kick-off but missed by defender Al-James Hannigan (next picture) who was suffering from nerves, and locked in the toilet; and the two team captains, David Lay and Gary Mabbutt.

Line-up: Rear: Dave Russell, Manager; Tony Dell; Kenny Glasgow; Colin Ferguson; Kevin Stone; John Franks; Ansil Bushay; Gary Lester; Lawrie Craker, Assistant Manager. Front: John Regan; Mark Watkins; David Lay (captain); John Caesar; Billy Hubbick.

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