Mark Quayle joked that you could get a good second-hand car for the £2,000 Scarborough paid for him. He cost an eight-year-old Mondeo or a high-mileage Astra and he has paid the club back in Rolls-Royces.
Quayle's goal against Southend on Wednesday night will, when the final cheque from the FA Cup tie with Chelsea has been gathered in, make the Conference side close to £500,000. In the words of his chairman, Malcolm Reynolds, his goal "has changed the club's future forever".
It would have been very hard to keep your feet on the ground on Wednesday night, even when, in Quayle's case, his boots were sinking into the mud by the touchline at the McCain Stadium. It was nearly an hour after the final whistle had sparked a tumultuous pitch invasion, epitomised by the club mascot - a man in a seagull suit - skipping to embrace a supporter while a few stewards attempted vainly to restore order, but Quayle was prepared to avoid the usual clichés.
The 25-year-old had been brought up in the hard streets of Liverpool, had been on Everton's books, and did not see a vast amount of difference between himself and the likes of Adrian Mutu or Marcel Desailly. Tradition demands that none of Claudio Ranieri's millionaires will have seen the steerage-class dressing-rooms at Seamer Road but Quayle knows otherwise.
"People forget that while they may be a £100m team, a lot of them would have been playing street football as boys. They, like me, learned their football in the back streets of inner cities. They have seen the rough and they have seen the tumble and while you can get used to the trappings of Stamford Bridge, at the end of the day coming here is better than playing on concrete."
Should Scarborough's plans come to fruition, the McCain will soon be concrete, as part of a housing estate which would enable them to transfer to a new ground that would form the centre of a sports complex. Without it, the club would, in Reynolds' estimation, haemorrhage £200,000 every year.
Quayle had nursed a teenage hope of playing in the Premiership but once he was released by Everton he carried on training at Bellefield unpaid before joining Notts County, after which his career drifted downwards into non-League football, via Morecambe, Telford, Chester and Nuneaton. He does, incidentally, give Scarborough barely a chance against Chelsea a week on Saturday.
"I am a realist. I am not one of those who says, 'It's going to be 50-50 on the day'. When Yeovil played Liverpool there was a lot of that going on, but I was saying, 'No, you've got to be realistic'. I am not saying never, but 99 times out of 100 it's not going to happen."
The achievement of Russell Slade's players is considerable. It is not just that a club with a monthly wage bill of £6,000 will be facing players for whom that would buy one training session, but for any Conference side to reach the fourth round of the FA Cup is no mean feat - especially one which sank into administration a year to the day before Slade's team propelled them to financial salvation. Fifty-nine Conference clubs reached the third round, but Scarborough were only the 13th to make it through to the fourth. Should they become the third Conference team to play in the fifth round, then English football will have witnessed its greatest upset.
The result, though not the occasion, is immaterial: Scarborough are safe. A little under four years ago, their chairman, John Russell, resigned with the club owing £1.25m after being relegated from the Football League. Russell was convicted of a hire-purchase fraud, and turned up at Exeter just in time to relegate them to the Conference.
Reynolds, who worked for a merchant bank in Vienna, has spent his two years as chairman fighting for Scarborough's existence. He has seen the club come in and out of administration and ploughed hundreds of thousands of pounds of his own money into sustaining football in a town in thrall to its summer cricket festival. From his seat in the directors' box the final whistle would have sounded impossibly sweet. But, as the club motto boldly states: "No battle, no victory."Reuse content