We realised very early on we had a chance to do something special – and the rewards were intangible.
There was a legacy to be made. Our profile could be changed forever.
So that was it. The University of Bath entered the FA Cup.
The idea at the start had been to try and build an American collegiate-style system to give players who hadn’t quite made it as a footballer a back-up plan for later in life through education. At the same time, we could create a really strong, competitive football team that might provide a platform for them to get back into the professional game.
We had a wonderful team in 2002. Among the players we recruited from professional clubs, we had two young wingers who had been let go by Aston Villa and Coventry and a great centre-forward who had been at Woking, though we also had undergraduates to choose from.
Our left-back was an architectural engineering student called Mike Wisson, who wore glasses and spent 40 hours a week studying – a fabulous footballer who worked so hard on and off the pitch. Then we had a Frenchman called Bertie Cozic who was over in England on a university exchange programme, and he ended up playing professionally afterwards. We had a lovely mix of intelligent, focused, motivated people, and some very, very good footballers.