Analysis

Martin Tyler hopes Woking's FA Cup tie is not a once-in-a-lifetime experience

Part-timers lost 2-0 at home to top-flight Watford

Last Updated: 08/01/19 2:27pm

Woking assistant Martin Tyler with Craig Ross (right) in Sunday's cup tie
Woking assistant Martin Tyler with Craig Ross (right) in Sunday's cup tie

Martin Tyler, Sky Sports' long-time football broadcaster, tells us what it was like to swap a place in the commentary box for one in the dugout after non-league Woking hosted Premier League Watford in the FA Cup third round on the weekend.

The 73-year-old has been assistant manager at Woking - the club he has supported since their 1957 Amateur Cup winning days - since May, with Alan Dowson's side currently riding high in the National League South.

However, thoughts of promotion to the National League were temporarily put on hold as the eighth best team in the top flight visited the Kingfield Stadium on Sunday for a televised cup clash.

Tyler was in the dugout as Woking faced Watford in the FA Cup third round
Tyler was in the dugout as Woking faced Watford in the FA Cup third round

Despite giving a good account of themselves after only losing the tie 2-0 - with Will Hughes and Troy Deeney scoring in each half for the visitors - Tyler says Woking's players were slightly disappointed after the full-time whistle.

"Strangely, there was a sense of disappointment because we felt that having got through a very difficult start to the game and were only 1-0 down at half-time, we had more to offer," he said.

"And maybe for all their illustrious talents, with international and Premier League experience aplenty, their line-up had not actually played a lot of football. But to be fair to Watford, the only real chance we created was at 2-0.

"The interesting thing since, though, is the judgment I have had from people has been as if we were equal and could have done more, forgetting that we are 110 places lower in the pecking order and the only part-time team in the third round of the FA Cup.

"So that is a compliment to the players that it was judged as more of an equal match than it should have been judged of really."

Surely, though, producing such a disciplined performance against a team of Watford's ability will fill the players will confidence for the second half of the season?

Tyler and Dowson (right) look on during Sunday's cup clash with Watford
Tyler and Dowson (right) look on during Sunday's cup clash with Watford

"Only time will tell what it will mean," Tyler said. "Certainly, the carrot of playing Watford worked really well for us with our league form leading up to the game - we won all four matches over Christmas, 12 points, 12 goals scored and only one conceded.

"So, they fought hard for their league points, with the carrot of being involved on the big day in front of the TV cameras. Now that has gone, we have a really big game against Welling on Wednesday at home and we will see. The carrot will be there for them to now try and make a push for them to get back in the National League."

Tyler was perhaps most delighted with both the overall show the part-time club put on and the camaraderie that was on display between the two sides last weekend.

"I think the best part of the day is that the club staged it superbly, Watford were afforded all the respect as the visiting club would be," he said. "There was great harmony both before and after the game between the two camps.

"Ben Foster did not play, but was there, Tom Cleverley, Will Hughes, Troy Deeney, Heurelho Gomes - all people that I know from years and years of broadcasting their performances - were all very respectful.

"We gave them a proper game, that was the proudest thing, they deserved to win, and I can only wish them luck going forward."

Watford skipper Troy Deeney (left) talks to Martin Tyler ahead of kick-off
Watford skipper Troy Deeney (left) talks to Martin Tyler ahead of kick-off

On a positive note, Woking will now be in a much better financial position in the future thanks to the money generated from their run to the third round.

"But there is plenty to play for and a lot to look forward to," said Tyler. "And, of course, the money raised from the cup run has stabilised the club so that we can make the challenge on a much more secure basis than we could have done had we got knocked out in the second qualifying round."

As for how Sunday's experience may help the team catch Torquay at the top of the National League South - they currently trail the leaders by just five points, but with three games in hand - Tyler is realistic.

"Torquay are still massive favourites to win the league - they are full time, have a much-admired manager in Gary Johnson and are winning every week," he said.

"So they are really strong favourites and we will do our best to stay in the race, but we are not the only team in that position. So, there will be a lot of competition."

As for the man himself, the 'Voice of Football' hopes Sunday will not be the last time he experiences first hand being involved in a coaching capacity in the oldest cup competition in the world.

"I said to [Sky Sports News reporter] Gary Cotterill afterwards it was a real experience for me, but the reality is that we were knocked out and you can't avoid that," he added.

"It was the first time I had ever been involved in the FA Cup third round as a coach and I hope it is not a once-in-a-lifetime experience!"