Two of Maidstone’s FA Cup stars were back at the Gallagher Stadium on Sunday to watch the third-round draw.
Sol Wanjau-Smith and Sam Bone joined fans in the Spitfire Lounge to see who United would land after beating League 2 Barrow.
One by one the big Premier League names disappeared, with United drawn at home to League 1 opposition in the form of Stevenage or Port Vale, who meet again next week after a 1-1 draw on Saturday.
Maidstone beat Boro in a first-round replay nine years ago while Stones keeper Lucas Covolan was released by the Valiants last summer, so there are links with both clubs.
The tie will be played over the weekend of January 6-7 and carries prize money of £105,000.
“Everyone dreams of a fairytale Premier League club but a home draw is not too bad,” said Wanjau-Smith, who’s among several Stones players living in the county town.
“Hopefully we’ll pack it out here and it’s another chance to give a good account of ourselves.
“Who knows what will happen, with the magic of the FA Cup?
“Either team is going to be really tough but hopefully we can come out on top.
“For me personally it’s the furthest I’ve ever been.
“I’ve played in every round from the extra preliminary round over the years so I was absolutely buzzing to get to the first round proper and now we’re in the third round proper. It’s a dream come true.
“I’d have loved Arsenal or Bristol City (he supports Arsenal and is from Bristol) but I’m just happy to be at this stage.
“I was very nervous watching the draw. It hasn’t sunk in yet that we’re actually through but watching the draw was so exciting.
“It’s mental to think we’ve beaten a League 2 club at home and one who are absolutely flying in their league.”
Wanjau-Smith set up Sam Corne’s equaliser as Maidstone came from a goal down to beat Barrow on Saturday.
He’s claiming a second assist, too, after his part in keeping matchwinner Bivesh Gurung on the pitch, although it was Bone who played the pass.
Gurung was heading back to the dugout after his substitution was announced, only for Wanjau-Smith to go off instead after alerting boss George Elokobi to an ankle injury.
“I kept the ball in play on the far side and as I tried to stop myself going into the barrier, I got my boot caught in the ground and felt my ankle go straight away,” said Wanjau-Smith.
“I thought I could run it off a bit, so I came back on, then I sat down and saw Bivesh’s number was up.
“I tried to get the gaffer’s attention to make sure I was coming off with him but then Bivesh stayed on and got the goal, so a shout-out to my right ankle.
“I’ll take two assists - one for the first goal for Corney and my right ankle gets the assist for Bivesh sticking it top bins.
“He was clapping the fans and then the gaffer pushes him back on the pitch.
“I just keep watching Bivesh’s goal. Every hour a new angle comes out.”
Victory over Barrow sent Maidstone through to round three for the first time in 35 years.
It’s been a long time coming, with the reformed club reaching the second round on four previous occasions in the past nine years.
They lost to Wrexham, MK Dons, Oldham and Blackpool but finally had their moment in front of almost 3,000 fans at the Gallagher.
“Someone came up to us on Saturday and said I don’t think you boys realise how much this means to the community and the club,” said Wanjau-Smith.
“It was 1988 the last time the club got to the third round - I don’t think any of us were even alive then.
“It’s such a long time and in the group chat we were saying it’s so nice to be part of this experience and have this memory now that no one can take away from us.
“That will last forever and that’s what football is all about, especially at slightly lower levels.
“It’s all about experiences and memories and no one can take away that we’re going to play in the third round of the FA Cup.”
Maidstone return to National League South action at home to Truro City tomorrow (7.45pm).
Wanjau-Smith’s ankle will be monitored at training.