Goalkeeper Alan Marriott is relishing the chance to play against one of the world giants of football, Liverpool, in the FA Cup Third Round at One Call Stadium this weekend.
The 34-year-old, who has over 500 professional appearances to his name, has proved to be one of the most reliable and consistent custodians in non-league football in recent years.
Nevertheless, Sunday’s televised clash against the Reds will be the first time that the shot-stopper has featured in the Third Round of the competition.
And Marriott has admitted that he can’t wait for an occasion which he has longed for during his 16 year career.
He said: “It’s a massive moment for me. I’m 34 now and coming towards the end of my career, but I’ve never played in the Third Round and it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do.
“It’ll be mind-blowing coming up against players of Liverpool’s calibre.
“When you see the potential of players that can come up against you, it’s hard to grasp the reality of it. For example, some of their players are worth £12 million pounds, which is probably more than our entire club.
“Whether they put out [Luis] Suarez, [Steven] Gerrard or some of the youngsters, they’ve got a fantastic squad, who will all be eager to prove that they’re good enough to play for Liverpool.
“I’m sure they will come determined, professional and want to get a good result against us.
“But we also want to do our best. We can go out there and enjoy it, but there’s no point in doing so if you don’t have the belief that you can win, so we want to pull off a shock.
He added: “The fans have missed out on so many big games because of being in the Football Conference, so it’s good to see them smiling again and it’s given everyone a massive lift. It fulfils a lot of dreams for a lot of people.”
Prior to joining us in January 2009, Marriott enjoyed a short spell at Rushden & Diamonds, but is best remembered for his time at Lincoln City, for whom he spent nine years with.
During his glittering Sincil Bank career, the Bedford-born custodian kept 106 clean sheets from 351 league appearances to cement his place in the Imps’ record books.
And having helped to deny his former employers the chance to meet Liverpool in Round Three, Marriott has revealed there have been some ‘interesting’ conversations with his Imps-supporting family members.
“My brother-in-law is a season ticket-holder and my missus’ dad is a Lincoln fan too,” said our joint-longest serving player.
“So there have been some interesting conversations, or lack of conversations, rather, since the replay. I’ve had a bit of stick at my lad’s school too, so I’m just keeping a low profile.
“My little boy actually can’t stop talking about the game. He’s the mascot on the day, and rather than Christmas, he’s been on the countdown to the Liverpool game instead.”
“So this is extra-special as not many players get the opportunity to play against Liverpool. My career has been full of up’s and down’s and to have this in the later stages of it is fantastic.”
Only two years ago, the veteran pondered retiring altogether from football, amidst a series of injury problems that forced him to spend several frustrating months on the sidelines.
Nevertheless, Marriott, who is currently training to become an electrician during his spare time, recovered, and has since become firmly established as our number one ‘keeper.
He continued: “A few years ago I had a few injuries and thought about retiring, but my family helped me through it.
“Everyone, from people who have bought things off me in the past, to the local shopkeeper, has been asking for tickets [for the Liverpool game] – it’s been a bit ridiculous really.”
“I’ve had a few people who have followed me closely, and supported me throughout my career, so they’ll be there and It’s going to be a brilliant occasion.”