Boyce won’t give the cup up easily

Emmerson Boyce with the FA Cup
Emmerson Boyce with the FA Cup

EMMERSON Boyce has played in his fair share of FA Cup third-round fixtures over the years.

At the tender age of 34, however, the Wigan Athletic skipper is preparing for his first outing as part of a side defending their crown.

“Yeah, it will be a bit strange going into the game as cup holders,” Boyce told the Evening Post ahead of this afternoon’s clash against the MK Dons.

“The FA Cup has obviously got some great memories for us, and we’re all looking forward to the weekend - especially the lads who played at Wembley.

“Hopefully it won’t be one of those famous cup upsets, because we are desperate to stay in the competition.

“We’re proud owners of the FA Cup at this moment in time, and we want to defend it as best we can.

“Everyone will be watching how we get on as the holders, and we want to do ourselves justice.

“Having worked so hard to bring the cup here, we don’t want to give it up easily.”

It’s fair to say Boyce played a central role at Wembley Stadium on May 11, 2013 as Latics caused the biggest cup-final shock in a quarter of a century.

Having carried mascot Joseph Kendrick on to the pitch before the game to raise the profile of club charity Joseph’s Goal on to a worldwide stage, a couple of hours later he led his team-mates up the famous steps to receive the most famous cup of them all.

It’s not a day that will ever be forgotten in these parts.

Nor, it seems, will it ever be forgotten in the Boyce household. “My son watches the DVD all the time - it’s something our family treasures and I’m sure that goes for a lot of Wigan supporters,” the Barbados international added.

“What we did that day will live forever. No-one can ever take that away from us.”

This afternoon’s clash has echoes of 12 months ago, and the fixture that set Latics off on the Wembley trail.

Just as they did last term, Latics face a home game against League One opposition, with the bookies expecting nothing other than a routine home win.

However, Boyce is the first to acknowledge just how close Wigan’s Wembley journey was to ending before it had even begun.

“Bournemouth will probably look back at that third-round tie and fell they should have beaten us over the two games,” Boyce recognised.

“We were probably lucky to have even taken the game to a replay, which we ended up sneaking at their place.

“But it just shows what you can do if you keep the faith and have belief in what you’re doing.

“We’re hitting a bit of form at the moment which has given us that faith back, and we’re proof that anything can happen in football if you believe in yourselves.”