By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
900 games man Mark ‘Willy’ Wilson ranks Emley’s famous 1998 FA Cup third round clash with Premier League side West Ham United as his finest.
But it nearly went wrong for the non-league legend.
Wilson had appeared in all eight FA Cup games before the trip to Upton Park, which saw the village club play a team containing the likes of future England Internationals Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand.
However, midfielder Wilson received a shock when manager Ronnie Glavin announced his team for the match.
“The West Ham game is the highlight of my career, it was 15 years ago this year,” he said.
“I played in every round leading up to the third round of the FA Cup and I got dropped the bombshell two hours before the kick-off that I wasn’t starting.
“So I confronted Mr Glavin and said ‘why didn’t you tell me the night last night?’ And he said: ‘we didn’t know what you would have done’. So I said: ‘I would have smashed the hotel up’.
“Luckily for myself, but unlucky for Emley at the time, Neil Lacey, the centre half pulled his hamstring so I got called into action. That relieved all the tension that had built up with being disappointed.”
Wilson got his moment in the spotlight, but he was very fortunate to remain on the field.
A tackle on Hammers’ defender David Unsworth infuriated West Ham and their supporters and even Wilson admits that he was lucky to escape with just a yellow card.
He said: “There was a very nasty tackle which you would not get away with now, no way. I would be up against the FA, Police. It was a late challenge on the captain David Unsworth which I thought was just my tenacious personality.
“But, Jeff Winter was the referee and he decided to just give me a yellow. In the second half they got a corner and we were defending and I always mark the front post and they were throwing coins at me.
“I didn’t know whether to throw the coins back or put them in my pocket as from being from Barnsley, there is not a lot of money around.”
Northern Premier League Emley, now known as Wakefield FC, fell behind in the fourth minute due to a Lampard goal. But, in the second half, the unthinkable happened when defender Paul David wrote his name into folklore by powering a header past Hammers goalkeeper Craig Forrest to equalise.
John Hartson did eventually win the game for West Ham late-on, but Wilson says it was a fantastic effort from the semi-professional side.
He added: “A draw would have been fair all-round because in the first half they battered us, but in the second half, everything went for Emley. Every pass went to one of our players. In the end, the extra bit of quality won it (for West Ham).
“For something like this to happen again would be a tall order now. We had a team who were all comfortable on the ball and we were quite a tall team. We were physical and we had a togetherness.”
There is still more to come from Willy as he looks back on his career in non-league football.