Son of Beasant aims to keep cup in family
Maidenhead United's Sam Beasant tells Paul Newman about emulating his dad's heroics
Sam Beasant has heard all the stories, has dealt with the ribbing from opposition supporters and even has the DVD.
Now, at last, he is experiencing the real thing. Twenty-three years after his father captained Wimbledon to their famous FA Cup final victory over Liverpool at Wembley, making a landmark penalty save along the way, Beasant Jnr is having his own taste of the historic competition.
Like his father Dave (or "Lurch" as the Crazy Gang used to call him), 6ft 5in Sam is a goalkeeper. After a stop-start beginning, the 23-year-old is hoping that his recent move to Maidenhead United can kick-start his career. Beasant Jnr joined the Blue Square Bet Conference South club only two months ago and has already helped to take them into the FA Cup's first round proper, in which they entertain Aldershot Town today. "This is my very first time in the FA Cup," he said. "Given my Dad's history, it certainly feels very special."
Beasant was barely a month old when his father capped Wimbledon's thrilling 1-0 victory over Kenny Dalglish's Liverpool by becoming the first man ever to save a penalty in an FA Cup final, diving to his left to keep out John Aldridge's spot-kick.
"I was actually born the week of the semi-final win against Luton," Sam said. "My Dad got me the DVD of the final for Christmas the other year. I've watched it a couple of times. He made another very good save from John Barnes. It was a double save and he tipped it away. He actually prefers that to the penalty save."
Sam first remembers watching his father play at Chelsea and recalls supporting a host of other clubs he subsequently joined. Beasant Snr, who is now 52, left Wimbledon for Newcastle United after their FA Cup triumph and went on to play for Chelsea, Grimsby Town, Wolves, Southampton, Nottingham Forest, Portsmouth and Brighton. He made two appearances for England, was a member of the 1990 World Cup squad and was still playing well into his forties.
For the last two years father and son have worked together at the Glenn Hoddle Academy, which was based in Spain but now operates out of Bisham Abbey. Dave is a coach, while Sam is on a full-time scholarship. It was in December 2009, after an unhappy end to a spell playing in Cyprus, that Sam was invited by Hoddle to join a group of 20 players, all previously released from clubs in England. The academy works with the players in an attempt to relaunch their careers.
Maidenhead already had one of Hoddle's goalkeepers, Billy Lumley, on their books when he fell ill with glandular fever in September. Beasant joined as a replacement and has made an immediate impression.
"He does the basics well," Johnson Hippolyte, Maidenhead's manager, said. "He takes crosses well, he has a great kick and he's a good shot-stopper. If somebody gives him a chance to go full-time I'm sure he'll do well.
"All Glenn wants is for his players to play, so that they're in the shop window. They get games and they get exposure. So if Sam has a good game and a scout is watching, he could move on. Sam trains at the academy in the daytime, but when we're training on a Tuesday or a Thursday he joins in with us."
Beasant, whose goalkeeping cousin, James, is also at the Hoddle academy, began as a striker but had moved between the posts by the time he was taken on by Chelsea at the age of 10. Chelsea released him at 15 and he moved on to Wycombe Wanderers, but at 17 he was again looking for another club. He joined Amersham Town, whose manager had contacts in Cyprus and helped him join a Fourth Division club on the island.
Olympiakos Nicosia, one of the biggest clubs in Cyprus, soon signed the young goalkeeper on a two-year contract, but the move turned sour after he complained about the standard of the coaching. The club told him he could leave and Beasant is still involved in a legal dispute with them over the payment of his contract.
Upon his return Beasant had a successful trial at Hoddle's academy, where he welcomed the chance to work with his father. "I'm not just saying this because he's my Dad, but he's one of the best coaches I've ever had," Beasant said. "I had Eddie Niedzwiecki at Chelsea and he was good, but compared to Cyprus it's been great here. I like working with him."
A trial with Birmingham City earlier this year led to nothing, after which Beasant welcomed the chance to join Maidenhead. "It's good to be playing competitive football, because for the last two years I've just been playing friendlies," he said. "When you're playing friendlies and your team scores it doesn't really mean much, but when you're playing for points or in cup ties it's very different. I really enjoy it."
Beasant Snr often turns up at Maidenhead's matches, which can be a blessing in disguise. "When the opposition fans see my Dad there they often start saying: 'You're a disappointment, you're a disgrace to your Dad. Look at him over there. He must be ashamed.' I'll laugh about some of the things they say. I'm not really bothered about it. My Dad's always supported me in what I've done. When I said I wanted to be a goalkeeper he used to take me over to the park and we would go through the basics. I remember going back home and being in the lounge and being on my knees, just falling to one side to get used to hitting the floor."
Beasant Jnr (inset left, with his father and the Cup) also takes heart from his father's humble beginnings. Wimbledon signed Beasant Snr from Edgware Town for £1,000. "He started his professional career a bit later than most," Beasant Jnr said. "People ask me: 'Are you too old now?' Well it's happened before and a lot of goalkeepers go on for a long time. Brad Friedel is 40 and look what a great goalkeeper he is."
Magpies' Fascinating Cup Tradition
Although Maidenhead United have done little to make their mark on the game in recent times, the Berkshire club have a famous past. Formed in 1870, they were one of the original 15 entrants in the first FA Cup competition in the 1871-72 season. They also entered the first FA Amateur Cup in 1893 and the first Berks & Bucks Cup in 1878.
York Road, where the Magpies have played since their earliest days, is recognised as the oldest ground in the world where senior football has been continuously played by the same club. The site close to the River Thames had been a cricket ground from the end of the 18th century but has been the football club's home ever since their first match against Windsor Home Park in December 1870.
Other ties to watch
Newport Co v Shrewsbury Tn
Two decades after winning the FA Cup with Spurs, Justin Edinburgh will today be back in front of the TV cameras as his Newport County side take on League Two Shrewsbury. In five weeks at the club Edinburgh has overseen a significant improvement in the Conference club's form.
Plymouth Argyle v Stourbridge
Optimism abounds at Home Park after exiting administration but the chances of a money-spinning Cup run for the Football League's bottom club is today threatened by in-form Southern Premier League visitors.
FC Halifax v Charlton Athletic
Halifax, like Newport, are a phoenix club, re-formed after the original team went bust. The Conference North outfit welcome League One leaders Charlton to The Shay, where Manchester City once fell, tomorrow.
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