VIDEO: Paulton striker Rob Claridge
Chris Lakey Robbie Claridge knows a thing or two about Norwich City - which is probably more than can be said for his Paulton Rovers team-mates. The 29-year-old is a former team-mate of Jamie Cureton - and once played against Gary Doherty, the man who could well be marking him today.
Robbie Claridge knows a thing or two about Norwich City - which is probably more than can be said for his Paulton Rovers team-mates.
The 29-year-old is a former team-mate of Jamie Cureton - and once played against Gary Doherty, the man who could well be marking him today.
The last time they met was more than a decade ago - and Claridge is hoping it will end very differently at Winterfield Road tomorrow.
"I played against him in 1996-97 I think, when I was in Bristol Rovers' youth team," recalled Claridge. "He was with Luton at the time. He was physically the same size then as he is now, he was a big lad.
"I think we lost - I think he started the first half at centre-half and then went up front and scored a hat-trick for them. He's not a bad player - and his career has gone on since."
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It was at Bristol Rovers that Claridge first met Cureton, who was signed by Ian Holloway from Norwich.
"He signed when I was a second year apprentice and Ian Holloway took over," Claridge said. "He was there when I was a pro as well, so I know Jamie. I haven't kept in touch with him but if I see him when he's back in Bristol I always have a chat with him.
"Now there's a goalscorer - he always scores goals - and he doesn't score easy goals either, he always seems to score some spectacular goals."
Claridge was released by Rovers and went on to play for Cleveland Town in the Dr Martens Premier League, then Weston-super-Mare, Brislington and Mangotsfield.
And he knows a thing or two about hitting the back of the net, with a scoring record that would be the envy of most strikers - the Paulton Rovers hitman has broken the 20-goal record in each of his last seven seasons.
And he fancies his chances tomorrow.
"I can't quite work out how it's happened like that, but it's been okay," said Claridge. "I have consistently scored 20 goals a season. Goals haven't been too hard to come by. I work hard and I think I only work hard to get lucky breaks in a way. It's down to hard work, knowing where to go, not snatching at things, relaxing a bit and just being in the right place at the right time really.
"This season there haven't been too many tap-ins, a lot of them have been outside of the box - I'm not like a Gary Lineker, I sometimes have to work a bit.
"I fancy myself to score, I always fancy myself to score really. I think we are going to get chances. Every team gets one chance, two chances and hopefully if it falls to me I will take it.
"In the team we have a lot of pace, that's one of the things we have got, and a lot of players haven't got any fears so I think as long as we relax into it we may cause not massive amounts of trouble because the gap between us is huge, but as long as we keep it tight at the back I fancy us to create a couple of chances."
Claridge is an electrician by trade, but is currently working for Paulton boss Andy Jones, who has a wholesale flower business.
A good performance tomorrow, and he may just get the chance to try the pro game once again.
"Leaving Rovers knocked my confidence a bit, but I'm enjoying football again and hope someone would spot me and maybe I could get back in the pro game again," he said. "I'm 29 now so I don't know if it would be possible.
"I just have to go out there and play with confidence, want the ball and anything can happen.
"This is the biggest game of my career to play in front of TV cameras. All my family will be here to see me play in front of the TV cameras and to get a goal would be massive.
"I don't know what I'll do - I scored the last goal in the last round and I didn't know what to do. I jumped on the manager and I still think I'm recovering from that now. I think he was a little bit worried."