Stourbridge's James McQuilkin hoping for perfect FA Trophy match

Stourbridge midfielder James McQuilkin is hoping it will be second time lucky when he faces his own personal match of the day later this year.

 James McQuilkin during his AFC Telford United days - (Mike Sheridan/Ultrapress)
James McQuilkin during his AFC Telford United days - (Mike Sheridan/Ultrapress)

McQuilkin will marry his fiance Steph in the summer after the original date was postponed in 2021, partly because it fell on the day he played for Hereford in the FA Trophy final against Hornchurch.

The ex-Walsall, AFC Telford and Kidderminster player will be part of the Glassboys team that will face Guiseley at home in the last 32 of the trophy on Saturday and has a big history in the competition – as well as the wedding day clash, he has also appeared in two other semi-finals, one with The Bucks.

In reality, many weddings were called off last year due to Covid regulations and the decision had been made before Hereford reached Wembley. Even the crowd was restricted to around 10,000 because of government regulations and although Hereford lost 3-1, it didn’t damper the occasion for the Tipton-born player, who turned 33 last Sunday.

He said: “It was wonderful to play at one of the iconic stadiums, if not the iconic stadium with all the history and sense of your surroundings that goes with it. The build up and just the atmosphere inside and outside the ground was special.

“I think for any potential footballer growing up you want to play at Wembley but not many actually do so and it is something I think will always be one of the highlights of my career.

“It’s a competition where I have played in the semi-finals twice and the final but lost all three so not had the best of luck, though many players don’t even get to a semi final.

“The result at Wembley obviously wasn’t great but it was probably an achievement just to get the game on last year which was a bit of a nightmare for many people, the wedding had already had to be postponed well in advance, though, the two dates would have clashed.

Last season saw a second spell at Hereford for James, who made his football league debut for the Edgar Street club in 2009, making 76 appearances for them and nine for Walsall, also in the football league.

His career began at West Bromwich Albion where he was released in 2007 before playing in the Czech Republic and then returning to the UK. where he made 76 football league appearance for Hereford and nine for Walsall.

McQuilkin joined Stourbridge at the start of this season and, has flirted with the finals of the competition twice before in his career, for Torquay in 2014 when they lost 5-1 to Wrexham and in 2018-19 when AFC Telford lost 3-1 on aggregate to Leyton Orient.

So some irony that Stourbridge beat Telford a few weeks ago to reach the last 32 of the competition and does McQuilkin think it might be poetic justice if he was to reach at least the semi-final again with them?

He said: “I remember the semi-final against Orient with Telford because the first leg was away and we thought we had done quite well to only lose 1-0 but then went on to lose the second leg as well.

“There are still a few lads at Telford that were there for that game and it was good to have a catch up with them but also a fantastic occasion to come back from behind twice and go on to win the game.

“I have played most of my career at the two levels above but there are a lot of players in the Stourbridge team who can say that - there is a lot of experience in there and I think that might be what carried us through against Telford.

“Because of that, and The way we have been playing lately, I don’t see anything to fear in us playing a team from the National North and I don’t see any reason why we can’t continue the FA Trophy run.

“I don’t know whether I will be a lucky charm in that respect because you could say I have been to two semi-finals and one final and lost them all but just to get to those stages of any competition is really exciting so who knows what will happen.”

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