Graeme Lee rekindles memories of Sunderland and Manchester City FA Cup ties as his Hartlepool United side prepare for Blackpool test

Graeme Lee is no stranger when it comes to FA Cup drama.

Friday, 7th January 2022, 4:45 pm

The Hartlepool United manager was part of the Notts County squad who landed two big shocks in the competition during his final years as a player.

The former Pools defender was part of the Magpies side who eliminated Premier League Sunderland from the third round of the competition with a 2-1 win at the Stadium of Light back in 2011 before the League One side would go on to hold Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City in the fourth round.

Lee and his teammates would lose 5-0 in the replay at the Etihad against a star-studded City side but it is memories like that which mean so much to lower league teams in the FA Cup throughout its 150 year tradition.

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Graeme Lee has already enjoyed success in the FA Cup this season during his first game in the dugout as Hartlepool United manager against Lincoln City. (Credit: Mark Fletcher)

“I’ve had some cup ties over my time. I wasn't involved in the game, but I think we drew with Man City, who had Mancini at the time, and we got a replay with Notts County and took them back to the Etihad so that was a fantastic achievement,” said Lee.

“I think we beat Sunderland at Notts County and I’ve had some good moments in the game playing the top level teams, a little bit like this with us and the Blackpool game, but as a manager it’s even more exciting for me to be involved in these games.”

Pools will head into Saturday’s third round tie full of confidence having landed yet another knockout punch to a League One team in midweek with their EFL Trophy win over Bolton Wanderers.

It adds to Sheffield Wednesday as well as both Lincoln City and Wycombe Wanderers in the previous rounds of the FA Cup with Lee suggesting his players can head into the game at the Suit Direct Stadium with belief they can go one better this time against a team from the Championship.

Jamie Sterry is hoping to return to fitness following a rib injury picked up in the goalless draw with Oldham Athletic. Picture by FRANK REID

“It is [a free hit] in the sense that you’re going into a game against a team from two leagues above.

“It's like the League One games where you’re not the favourites so you look at it and think ‘we’ve got nothing to lose so let's go and give everything we can and see what happens’ but we still want to be confident.

“We’re at home, we want to go into the game with that belief we’ve got a chance of winning and that’s the mentality.

“I think for the lads going into these occasions just gives them a lease of life. It gives them a break from the league and something where they can go into it where the pressure is more on the opposition.”

Lee is hoping for positive news on the injury front heading into Saturday’s tie after all three of his right backs, Jamie Sterry, Reagan Ogle and Luke Hendrie, missed the EFL Trophy match through injury.

Meanwhile emergency right back Eddy Jones has returned to Stoke City for discussions over his future meaning Lee could be short in that area of the field.

“It’s still in the balance a little bit. Hopefully all three should train today as planned.

“Let’s hope all three get through the training session and if that’s ok we’ll have a smile on our face.”

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