THE man who has masterminded Chichester City’s remarkable FA Cup run has magical, mystical powers.
Well, that’s Graeme Gee’s description of his former Moneyfields managerial colleague Miles Rutherford.
The west Sussex club last weekend reached the first round proper of the FA Cup for only the second time in the club’s history.
Playing at the same level of the non league pyramid as Moneyfields, Chi are the only team left in the tournament who began their FA Cup journey at the extra preliminary round stage on August 10.
A 2-1 fourth qualifying round win at higher division Bowers & Pitsea was their sixth cup win of the season - as many as they had managed in the previous 26 seasons of FA Cup action put together!
Chi’s incredible local story became a national tale on Monday evening when they were the last team drawn out of the hat - meaning a bye to the second round, due to Bury’s expulsion from the EFL.
Assistant boss Gee - who served under Rutherford during the latter’s time in charge at Moneyfields - reflected on the draw: ‘I’ve never seen anything like that. As every ball came out I’m thinking ‘let us draw a league club’.
‘When it got down to the last ten or so there were quite a few heavy hitters from the league. Then with three to go you’re just praying.
‘I swear Miles Rutherford is some sort of Dark Lord! I’ve been saying it for a long time.
‘I spoke to his long-time girlfriend earlier and she told me he went to Hogwarts. I believe he is some sort of professor of the dark arts. The man is incredible.’
Gee said he and Rutherford’s previous FA Cup record at City was ‘dreadful’ and ‘very, very poor’ – they had not got past the extra preliminary round in three attempts.
‘But this more than makes up for those three years of misery,’ said Gee, who used to play for Moneyfields prior to becoming assistant boss.
“The financial implications for a club of this size is unbelievable. You cannot emphasise just how much this will mean for the future of this club.
“In the next round you hope you get a league club at home so the good people of Chi can come out. You want it to be live on TV.
“All our dreams have come true. I don’t care whether anyone says it’s lucky or whatever. Sometimes you make your own luck in life and in football.
“Whether anyone thinks we deserve it, I don’t really care. We were the lucky ones, all the other 30 or so non-league clubs in the draw would have loved to be in our position and we’ve just got to take it.”
Gee played in the FA Cup first round for Newport IOW in 1995/96, getting beaten by Enfield.
‘I can lean on those sort of experiences and say to the boys it’ll happen once, maybe twice, maybe never. But I’m delighted for these boys, they’re all local lads,’ said Gee of a squad which includes ex-Moneyfields pair Steve Mowthorpe and Lloyd Rowatt.
Rutherford – who left Moneyfields four years ago this month to take over at Chi – added: ‘We’ve got a long way to go to get the club where it should be but this cup run is massive for all of us. I’ve told everyone to enjoy it because it’s not something that happens often.
‘Some football people will never experience it.
‘We’ve had some luck and you need that, but we’ve also beaten some very good teams.
‘Now we’ve had more luck to get into the second round. Getting that bye was like winning the National Lottery.
‘I was at the draw and, though I’m normally quite negative, from the time there were only six teams left I was certain we were going to get the bye.
‘It just adds to an unbelievable season for exceptional players.
“As for the prize money, we were on our knees two years ago and it’s not a case of just being able to spend it.
‘We need to secure the club for two, three, four years. It’s not cheap running an Isthmian League club.’
Chi have already won £45,000 from winning through six rounds, and will now bank a further £36,000 from getting past the first round stage.
Some of that, though, will go towards the group aiming to create a new club in Bury.