Saturday, January 16

Derby without Rooney takes its toll on Chorley Cup dreams but offers unexpected FA Cup opportunity

Life has changed a lot even in the few weeks since Chorley faced Derby in the third round of the FA Cup. For Jamie Vermiglio, Saturday’s meeting with the championship club had provided him with the opportunity to be on the touchline as an equal to Wayne Rooney, a man he grew up from a couple of miles away in Liverpool.

Covid-19 has frustrated that dream for Vermiglio, but the 38-year-old hasn’t had too much time to think about it this week, let alone prepare for the biggest day of his soccer career when the north side of the National League play in the third. round for the first time in its 138-year history.

Vermiglio, who has worked at Chorley for nearly a decade as a player, coach and now coach, works as a manager in nearby Warrington. Rising coronavirus cases have sparked an outbreak in Derby that means Rooney and his first-team squad will not travel to Lancashire, but Vermiglio has hardly had a moment to worry about the game due to the situation his school faces.

“It has been a very difficult time, mentally exhausting,” says Vermiglio. “I would have liked to focus more on this game, but I had to put it at the bottom of my priority list, to be honest. I have spent many nights worrying about the school because we have a duty to take care of the local people. That has been my priority and this has had to remain in the background “.

Vermiglio says of Rooney: “I grew up on Scarisbrick Road in Liverpool, and he was a Toxteth boy, I think. Seeing someone close to where you live do what they have done has been very inspiring to the local Liverpool boys. It would have been great to have the opportunity to face him with Chorley as equals. “

Derby development coaches Pat Lyons and Gary Bowyer will bring a team of youth and under-23 players to Chorley. Although Vermiglio admits that it is disappointing not to face Rooney, he says it presents Chorley with the opportunity to create even more FA Cup history, having eliminated Wigan and Peterborough.

Chorley celebrates Peterborough's elimination from the FA Cup in the second round.
Chorley celebrates Peterborough’s elimination from the FA Cup in the second round. Photograph: Catherine Ivill / Getty Images

“We will probably never have a better chance,” says Vermiglio. “But even if they are under 18, with the utmost respect for our players, they should still be favorites. They all train full time and they should be fitter, stronger and all that. But our guys are going to love our opportunities. “

The Cup race has reinvigorated Chorley’s drive for promotion after relegation last season, but with fans left out, depriving the local community of an unforgettable afternoon in the limelight, there is much a backdrop. most important to Chorley’s exploits.

“I am not exaggerating when I say that he has saved the club,” says Vermiglio. “We told the players at the beginning of the season that, with all the uncertainty, we would commit to paying salaries, but they may not receive them on time every week. I think that is close to £ 250,000 with all the television revenue, and it puts us in a very fortunate position compared to other clubs outside the league. He has been a savior for us. “

This is new terrain for Chorley, but they have Cup experience to turn to. Assistant manager Andy Preece scored the winning goal for Stockport in their shock win against Queens Park Rangers in 1994, and goalkeeper Matt Urwin was on the Bradford City team that beat Chelsea to the quarterfinals ago. six years.

Victory Park would have been packed on Saturday, and Vermiglio acknowledges that that would have given his team an additional advantage. Yet despite all the uncertainty and the feeling that this tie doesn’t have the shine it should have, some things, it seems, never change. “I don’t know how they will feel about our stadium,” says Vermiglio with a laugh. “The locker rooms here were already cold, but in this weather, I wouldn’t want to go sit in the bathroom on Saturday. They will be frozen. “

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