BIG INTERVIEW: Chorley cup keeper from famous victory over Wolves opens his scrapbook of memories

Craig Salmon talks to former Chorley goalkeeper Ian Senior who was a star performer the last time the Magpies faced Wolves in the FA Cup.
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It took a little rummaging around but Ian Senior knew his precious football scrapbook would take him back on a wonderful journey down memory lane.

Around four decades old and by now looking a little dated around the edges, the little valuable artefact provides a nice record of his days as a semi-professional goalkeeper in the 1980s and 90s.

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In particular, it pays homage to the greatest match of his life – when he was Chorley’s No.1 and he stood between Wolves and a place in the second round of the FA Cup.

Former Chorley keeper Ian Senior with his treasured scrapbookFormer Chorley keeper Ian Senior with his treasured scrapbook
Former Chorley keeper Ian Senior with his treasured scrapbook

It was way back in 1986 when the Magpies – then of the Northern Premier League and managed by current club chairman Ken Wright –won through to the opening round of the prestigious competition for the first time in their history.

Drawn at home against three-times English champions Wolves – who back then were on a downward spiral which would see them relegated to the old Fourth Division – the Football League outfit appeared to have done all the hard work when they held the non-league side to a 1-1 draw at Bolton Wanderers’ Burnden Park – the tie had been moved from Victory Park on safety grounds.

With a replay at Molineux to look forward to, Graham Turner’s men were widely expected to complete the job on their home patch.

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And everything appeared to be going according to plan when Matt Forman h header flew past Senior and into the corner of the net.

However, the home side were stunned when Paul Moss equalised..

That shocked Turner’s men into action and they pressed forward in search of a winner but could not find a way past an inspired Senior in the Chorley goal.

On what was a wretched evening weather-wise, his performance proved crucial to the Magpies as they clung on to a 1-1 draw to force a second replay.

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And after winning the toss to secure another match at Burnden Park, the Magpies turned on the style to win the second replay 3-0 and etch themselves forever in club folklore.

For so long the Magpies’ vintage of 1986 have been heralded as the men who put the club firmly in the national spotlight and for the past 34 years they have taken great pride in providing the golden night in the club’s 138-year history.

So there must have been a few wry smiles on the faces of Senior and his former team-mates when the current crop of players at the club were paired with Wolves in the FA Cup fourth-round draw in a re-run.

The boys of ’86 have had to accept that the current Chorley side have already eclipsed their feats from all those years ago.

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Comeback victories against 2013 cup winners Wigan Athletic and League One high-flyers Peterborough United – both away from home – had seen the club reach the third round of the competition for the first time ever.

And there was a sense of certainty surrounding Saturday’s 2-0 home victory over Championship side Derby County, whose squad had been severely depleted by a Covid-19 outbreak within their camp.

Having gone where no Magpies side has gone before, can the present Chorley team emulate the class of ’86 and get the better of Wolves – now of the Premier League?

“I think it will be a bit more difficult for Chorley to beat Wolves now because they are a top Premier League side,” said Senior, who worked as a firefighter.

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“When we played them, they were very much on the way down and were in the old Third Division.

“I remember when we played Wolves, we had played Bishop Auckland in the fourth qualifying round and they were a top non-league side.

“When the draw came out, it was, ‘Wow, this is the icing on the cake – getting to the first round proper and being drawn against a big name like Wolves’.

“It was mind-blowing and I don’t think anybody thought initially we would beat them.

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“We were a decent average team but we weren’t top of the league or anything.

“I think we just thought we would give a good account of ourselves and that we had done well to get to the first round.

“After drawing with them at Burnden Park, we got the opportunity to go down to Molineux and I think everybody was thinking this is more icing on the cake.”

When the Magpies arrived for the replay, it soon became clear to Senior and his team-mates that Wolves were in a state of crisis.

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“I think we went there thinking we are going to be playing at this fantastic stadium but that wasn’t to be the case,” said Senior, who was formerly on the books of Bolton as a youngster.

“Molineux was in the throes of reconstruction.

“There were only two sides of the ground open.

“They had this big modern stand and the rest of the ground was the old stadium.”

Chorley certainly rode their luck in the replay with Senior enjoying arguably his greatest night in football.

“I had one of those amazing nights where I played out of my skin,” said Senior.

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“Mossy managed to score and I think Mark Edwards had a chance for us right at the death, but apart from that it was pretty much backs to the wall.

“For the 90 minutes and the 30 minutes of extra time, we got bombarded and I would say I had the game of my life.

“The fortunate thing about it was I had grandparents who lived in Birmingham and they got every local newspaper from the day after the game. So I managed to put it all together in my scrapbook.

“It’s been great to have a look at it all again now, especially after Chorley got paired against Wolves again.”

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After Senior’s heroics paved the way for a second replay, the Magpies ran riot to win 3-0 with goals from Charlie Cooper (2) and Edwards.

There was also an added incentive as well for Chorley as they knew a mouthwatering derby clash against neighbours Preston North End awaited in the second round.

“When we beat Wolves 3-0, it was ridiculously comfortable,” said Senior. “I can’t really remember having much to do. It was just a great night for the club.”

Whether the present Chorley team can get the better of Nuno Espirito Santo’s men next Friday, Senior is not too sure.

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But whatever happens, the club have provided the story of the FA Cup this year.

“It’s been remarkable really, especially in the state the world is in at the moment with Covid-19,” said Senior. “They have had some fortune shall we say, in terms of Derby not being able to play their first team.

“But they came back from 2-0 down at Wigan and then produced a fabulous performance down at Peterborough. It’s been amazing really.”

If the Magpies were to cause a shock against Wolves then they would be one of 16 teams left in the competition.

“You can start dreaming of Wembley then can’t you?,” quipped Senior.

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