Stead: ‘I’ll never get bored of talking about Chelsea’

IT’S the same question whether Jon Stead is talking with a journalist, a fan or simply somebody who stops him in the street.

Five-and-a-half years later and the veteran striker never gets bored hearing it. To Stead, as much as whoever happens to be inquiring, it remains a special memory that will forever be treasured.

The man who started THAT comeback at Stamford Bridge – and was shamefully only awarded a nine by this reporter in the player ratings – is ever willing to reminisce about one of the greatest FA Cup shocks.

“It always comes up in conversation,” he said. “Any time people start talking to me about football they just want to ask about Chelsea.

“But I don’t think I’ll ever mind because that was a fantastic season and such an incredible day.”

Stead scored 12 goals in 48 appearances during his two loan spells under Phil Parkinson at Valley Parade.

He could not stop hitting the net during City’s charge to the FA Cup quarter-finals, registering in every round bar the last-eight tussle with Reading.

“Everything just dropped into place in that cup run, it all clicked together for us.

“That Chelsea game, to a man, everybody was 10 out of 10. It was just superb.

“Everybody brought their A game and played at the best of their ability.

“It took that for us to do what we did but what an occasion.

“You can’t comprehend that sort of thing happening now without the 6,000 fans that travelled down to support us. It just shows how much of a difference that makes.”

Until this summer, it looked as if City’s near-miss would be the closest the 37-year-old would get to Wembley in a career stretching back to 2002.

Hitting the wall in the Reading replay, with the possibility of stepping out at the national stadium so tantalisingly close, was a huge frustration.

Stead recalled: “We had little half chances first game, I remember Hans (James Hanson) having one, but they were scrappy tough games.

“The replay was difficult circumstances for us because we’d played at Notts County two days earlier on the Saturday and had to use so many (first choice) players because of the rules.

“It was frustrating not to have a fresh run at it because our game was built on that energy. We were lacking a bit but I think Reading did their homework and matched us with it.

“They played us at our own game and with the extra bit of quality as well, that made the difference.”

But Stead finally got his day in the Wembley sunshine in August, coming off the bench to guide Harrogate to promotion victory over previous club Notts County in the National League play-off final.

“I thought it wasn’t going to happen,” he admitted. “Wembley was maybe going to pass me by which would have been disappointing after such a long career.

“To finally get the opportunity was amazing and what a day. Although I only played the last 20 minutes or so, the lads did…

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