Paulton veteran happy to stay in the dark

David Thorpe Paulton Rovers' most experienced FA Cup campaigner admits he knows very little about Norwich City - and is happy to stay that way.At 38, player-coach Rob Cousins is well-versed in David versus Goliath warfare from a long career which earned him two caps for the England non-league team.

David Thorpe

Paulton Rovers' most experienced FA Cup campaigner admits he knows very little about Norwich City - and is happy to stay that way.

At 38, player-coach Rob Cousins is well-versed in David versus Goliath warfare from a long career which earned him two caps for the England non-league team.

The notches on his FA Cup belt include wins over Cardiff (away) and Hereford when a youngster at Bath City, the latter achieved in front of the Sky Sports cameras to earn a third round meeting with Stoke City, who were held 0-0 at the old Victoria Ground. There were also heroic draws against Northampton and Fulham.


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He also had his share of battles with League opposition during his days at the then Conference part-timers Yeovil, with Northampton and Cardiff again featuring among the uncomfortable opponents. But Bath and Yeovil were themselves giants compared to Paulton, who would generally have been excited to rub shoulders with their reserve sides in Somerset Premier Cup or pre-season action. None of those battles provided so yawning a gap in status as that between his current village team and 'mighty' Norwich - which is why he's happy to leave it until later in the week to appraise himself of all the reasons why he and his team-mates are supposedly there to make up the numbers.

“The only time I've ever come across Norwich was when I was a kid at Bristol City and had to make the long trek to Norfolk on a Saturday morning for an FA Youth Cup tie, which we lost,” said the man who will this weekend be making his 987th senior appearance.

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“And I've been doing my best not to find out anything about them. I think the worse thing I can possibly do is look too closely at what they've got. We are getting reports about them, of course. But personally I prefer not to know too much. It's down to who performs best on the day. We'll respect them, of course, but not too much. In the end it's just 11 against 11 on the day.”

So, given that he doesn't know too much about City, what makes Cousins think his mid-table Southern League team, with an average league crowd of 235, can pull the rug from under one of the 'giants' of the Championship?

“I couldn't possibly tell you that!” he laughed. “We'll have a plan but the main hope is that we don't freeze on the day and can rise to the occasion.

“One thing in our favour is that we're not expected to win - by anybody. But as I have experienced, there can be, have been and always will be upsets.

“We mustn't forget that it's a big game for them as well. They're famous, everybody's expecting them to win, so there will be much more pressure on them than us. For most of the time I've been a player Norwich have been a Premiership team. They've been relegated but they look a good bet to go up this year and I hope they do.

“But this is the biggest game in our history. All the attention since the draw has been a little distracting, but in a pleasant way. We're playing an ex-Premiership club - so why not enjoy it?”

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