Barker still holds the FA Cup dear

Richie Barker
Richie Barker

Richie Barker is only allowed one piece of memorabilia on the wall at home - and it’s of his fondest FA Cup memory.

Barker led Mansfield Town out at St James’s Park in 2006 for their third round clash against Newcastle United - the same day Alan Shearer broke Jackie Milburn’s Newcastle scoring record.

Dons take on Chesterfield in the second round of the FA Cup on Saturday at stadium:mk, but with so many other competitions taking precedence over the world’s most famous tournament, Barker believes some of the magic could be beginning to wear off.

He said: “The second round is massively important, because people start to wonder who you might get next.

“It’s special. There will be upsets in this round, and there will be even bigger upsets in January. I hope it doesn’t lose that magic.

“We always used to mention the magic of the FA Cup, but I don’t know if players now have that same feeling towards it.

“The FA Cup final always used to be at 3pm on a Saturday and everyone would sit down and watch it. Now it gets moved and shifted around the Champions League, and I think it detracts from it a bit.

“It’s a serious competition. Everyone should have a good crack at it, because it’s a day out at Wembley.

“If you look back at the best moments in football over the last 50 years, a lot of them are FA Cup moments. I think that should continue.”

And Barker said his career highlight came in the FA Cup.

He said: “The biggest moment for me was leading Mansfield Town out at St James’ Park in front of 50,000 people, standing next to Alan Shearer, who was my boyhood hero.

“Shearer scored to break the all-time leading scoring record for Newcastle. I was on the halfway line when he broke Jackie Milburn’s record.

“Even just to play against him, or stand next to him, I could only do that because of the FA Cup.

“In 16 years playing, I’m only allowed one piece of memorabilia on the wall by the wife, and that’s a picture of me arguing with Alan Shearer over a free kick! It’s all I’m allowed!”

Dons have already played fellow League 1 side Chesterfield this season, and snatched a 1-0 win at the Proact Stadium back in August.

It was far from a vintage MK Dons performance that day, but rather a gritty, determined show, capped by Benik Afobe’s first goal for the club turning out to be the winner.

And off the back of Tuesday night’s win, by the same scoreline, over Sheffield United, Barker believes it is one of Dons’ performances of the season.

“Up until Tuesday night,” Barker said, “I felt Chesterfield was probably one of our best performances. To come away with a 1-0 away on a Tuesday night was excellent.

“At that time, they were on the back of promotion, buoyant and were in good form.

“In the last few months, they’ve found it tougher, but I feel it’ll be a hard game. We can treat it like a league game really.”