It is five years since Barnsley’s famous run to the semi-finals of the FA Cup but, as goalkeeper Luke Steele admits, “the memories are coming back” as they find themselves just one game away from a return to Wembley.
The south Yorkshire club, then managed by Simon Davey, took two famous scalps en route to their 2008 semi-final defeat by Cardiff, beating Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield in the fifth round before a 1-0 victory over holders Chelsea at Oakwell. Steele is one of three survivors in the Barnsley squad, along with defenders Stephen Foster and Bobby Hassell, and can expect a busy 90 minutes against Manchester City at the Etihad on Saturday, but his aim is to replicate his performance that day at Anfield when, as he remembered this week, he “just felt invincible”.
Incredibly it was Steele’s debut after signing on loan from West Bromwich Albion and he spent the night before the game asking Foster the names of his new team-mates. “I needed to know who I was talking to, especially the back four! I remember thinking to myself it was my last chance to prove myself as a goalkeeper,” added the 28-year-old, who made a series of superb saves before Brian Howard’s last-minute winner.
Foster, scorer of the equaliser at Anfield, has already watched Barnsley’s “inspirational” Chelsea victory again this week and said he would be revisiting the Liverpool DVD too. “I’ll probably get that out before the Manchester City game and try to feed off those memories a bit as well.”
Steele, who spent four years on Manchester United’s books without playing a game, has his own extra source of motivation. He remains a United fan – and admitted he would like a little bit of revenge for City’s league title win last season. “I was at my friend’s house and five out of the six lads were Man U fans. I couldn’t believe it – I thought we had it in the bag and [Sergio] Aguero popped up and spoiled the day.”