By Bruce Archer

When Sutton United legend Tony Rains buried his FA Cup header on that famous day at Gander Green Lane in 1989, he was so surprised he had no idea how to celebrate.

The left back and captain beat Coventry City’s Steve Ogrizovic to put United ahead and triggered one of the biggest cup shocks in recent history.

The 8,000 fans packed into the ground – compared with today’s official capacity only 5,013 today – would go on to witness the 1987 FA Cup winners dumped out of the competition 2-1 by the part-timers from Sutton.

Rains, 52, said: “We were used to having 800 fans, not 8,000. We got to the ground early and had breakfast there, so we felt the buzz around the ground as it got closer.

“The goal was almost nothing to do with me. I wasn’t prolific so I didn’t know how to react.

“The corner came in from Mickey Stephens and was flicked on by Nigel Golley – I didn’t know how to celebrate when it went in.”

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In there somewhere: Tony Rains is mobbed after opening the scoring against Coventry City almost 25 years ago            Picture from the Rains family collection

Rains’ goal came just before the break forcing manager Barrie Williams to change his half time team-talk.

“Barrie would have been delighted with 0-0, but the goal changed the mood. When we got into the changing room we spoke about what to do if they equalised, which of course they did,” he said.

“We’d have taken a draw and we had a bit of experience from the year before against Middlesbrough.”

Coventry drew level in the 52nd minute but were only on terms for seven minutes before Matthew Hanlan put United back in front.

Rains, who worked in insurance at the time, said: “We’d matched them for 80 minutes but they battered us for the last 10; I don’t know how we managed to hold on.

“We celebrated with the fans after the game, but of course as part-time players we were back to work on Monday, so it was a bit of a reality check.

“We were able to enjoy it a bit more at the end of the season when we were on the beach. Can you believe it is the 25th anniversary next season?”

Rains, who is now a cabbie in Wandsworth since leaving his coaching role at Gander Green Lane, is often a go-to man for the media when FA Cup giant killings are in the offing, and it is a role in which he is comfortable.

“I don’t mind it, it brings back good memories, so I’m happy to talk about it, and I still get down quite a lot and we have reunions.”

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Headline news: The giant-killing was all over the papers, as to be expected    (all pictures from the Rains family collection)

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Heroes: Sutton United's goal-scorers Tony Rains and Matthew Hanlan