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Gareth: We can make our own history

27 January 2017

Gareth Ainsworth says his side can take inspiration from the past but must focus on doing themselves and the present-day generation of Chairboys fans proud on Saturday.

The Wycombe manager is a well-known traditionalist when it comes to the romance of the FA Cup, and lives each day for the opportunity to create moments to reflect on with pride in years to come.

Standing opposite Mauricio Pochettino in the dugouts at White Hart Lane on Saturday will be one such moment for Ainsworth to reaffirm his love of the game, and to remember the journey he and his players have come on to write new chapters in the club's history.

Two-and-a-half years ago, Ainsworth stared oblivion in the face, with the threat of relegation from the EFL looming large. A monumental day at Torquay resulted in salvation, and provided a launchpad from which he hasn't looked back, guiding his side to a play-off final, an adventure against Aston Villa, and now an FA Cup fourth round tie at a stadium steeped in tradition where the famous names of cup-winning heroes still reverberate around the walls.

Wanderers have their own fairytales to recall from years gone by, and media attention this week has brought nostalgia from 1975, 2001 and 2007 flooding back.

But it's this team, this staff, and this culture which Ainsworth hopes will be talked about and celebrated for decades to come - something which could be achieved with a shock result at the Lane tomorrow.

"I want people in the future to look back and remember the team of 2017 for what they achieved," he said this week. "We have an ex-players association here who hold dinners to relive past glories and invite back those players who were involved. I want them to bring back this team one day.

"We can make our own history. I'll be telling my boys that this is their turn, their moment, and to believe in themselves.

"I've always believed in my players, and in the past few months that confidence inside me has grown to new levels. We breed positivity here. We have built something over the four years that I've been here and the squad I've got here is really special. That's not just talking about the football - it's the people, and the spirit we've got. That's why I'm not surprised we've made it this far.

"Tottenham is going to be a massive test for us, but we'll enjoy it. We'll give it our all and we want to make people proud of us. This team is on the up and we can compete, there's no doubt about it. It'll be a great occasion for us."

The draw for the fourth round was made three weeks ago and culminated in a video of the players' reactions going viral, such was the magnitude of their celebrations at the news.

Since then, Ainsworth's men have reached the Checkatrade Trophy semi-final and continued their long unbeaten run with two hard-fought draws in the league after going behind, something which the manager says is a mark of their character.

"When the draw came out, it was a magical moment for us. Three weeks on, we're still in the play-off places and we're in the semi-final of another competition. That's a big achievement for me.

"I had to keep the boys focused, and they've done that. Some of the boys here have played in big matches like this before, so they know how to deal with it, but some haven't, and this is a new experience for them.

"We kept them grounded because we've had some important games, but now they can finally look forward to playing at White Hart Lane and everything else that comes with it.

"We approach the game as we always do - with humility, with that underdog spirit, and the belief that we can achieve something. We're lucky to be doing what we love, so let's go out there, work hard and enjoy it."

His final words came for those who have supported him and his staff and players throughout his tenure, and Ainsworth cannot wait to see more than 4,000 Wycombe fans roaring on their team from one corner of the Lane.

"We're worlds apart from that day at Torquay. That's testament to the hard work of everyone, from the players to the staff to the chairman, who has been amazing for me. None of this would have happened without them.

"The fans at this club are outstanding and we want them to enjoy this day. I'm buzzing for everyone. It's great when you walk around the town and the local areas and people stop you in the street to say how much they're looking forward to the game.

"There'll be thousands of fans wearing their light and dark blue quarters around Tottenham and that will be great to see. I want to say thank you to the fans - hopefully now this is payback for sticking with us through the tough times, and I hope you can be proud of the boys because they play for the badge on the front of the shirt and they will give everything they've got."

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