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Maidstone United assistant manager and two-time Wembley winner Craig Fagan tells players to make their families proud at Coventry City

Craig Fagan has called on Maidstone players to make their families proud at Coventry.

It’s an approach that worked for the Stones assistant manager during a playing career that included Championship play-off final wins with Derby and Hull.

Maidstone United assistant manager Craig Fagan. Picture: Helen Cooper
Maidstone United assistant manager Craig Fagan. Picture: Helen Cooper

He shared that message before Maidstone’s FA Cup fourth-round win at Ipswich last month and hopes it pays dividends again at the CBS Arena on Monday night.

“Make your family proud - that was something people said to me before I played at Wembley a couple of times,” said Fagan.

“When you’re out there, think of your family watching.

“When you’re tired, just think of that extra yard you could be doing to make them even prouder.

“Some of the scenes at Ipswich, with the families there, I’m not saying it kicked them on but they were thinking this means something else, bar my performance.

“I’ve tried not to speak about Wembley too much with the lads because you don’t want to be talking about yourself.

“You just want them to feel what it’s like.

“I just tried to explain to them that you’ve maybe only got this one moment in your career, you can’t be thinking it’s going to keep happening.

“So for the likes of Ipswich, it was this might be your only chance, make your family proud, show what you can do on the big scale, not just Conference South, and it’s going to be exactly the same message.

Maidstone celebrate with fans after beating Ipswich in round four. Picture: Steve Terrell
Maidstone celebrate with fans after beating Ipswich in round four. Picture: Steve Terrell

“They’ve sampled it now, so they know what it’s about, but they’ve got to raise their levels again when they play Coventry.

“It’s the magic of the FA Cup - anything can happen.

“We are the underdogs but we were the underdogs against Ipswich.

“We like that and I think the players quite like that.

“They’re going against the grain to try and win the game.

“As long as we give everything we can, like we did against Ipswich, there’s always a chance.”

Fagan also wants to do Maidstone fans proud after witnessing their commitment to buying tickets.

With the first fans arriving at 5.30am for last Friday’s 10am general sale, there were huge queues when Fagan drove in for training.

The last of the 4,800 allocation sold shortly after 1pm.

More Stones FA Cup news

“It really hit home for me,” he said. “When you see the queue, it was like, ‘Wow, a lot of people are making the effort to go and see us at Coventry’.”

Support for Maidstone goes way beyond the fans lucky enough to be at the stadium and those watching at home or in pubs around the town.

They have the backing of neutrals up and down the country with their underdog story capturing the imagination.

Fagan said: “It’s a strange situation because you speak to those fans at the start of the season and they probably wouldn’t know where Maidstone is or what level it is.

“But now I speak to people all the time, people who didn’t know I was here, and they know a lot about Maidstone.

“The club’s earnt that, especially in the cup games. People are starting to recognise Maidstone again.”

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