WANDERERS Under-18s head to Tottenham tomorrow night hoping to extend a love affair with the FA Youth Cup that stretches back more than half a century.
The Whites may not have enjoyed huge success in the competition and still await a first title.
But they have always relished their participation and the chance to see young footballers develop in the junior version of the FA Cup.
Victory for David Lee and Tony Kelly’s class of 2013 at White Hart Lane would set up a quarter-final date at either Nottingham Forest or Huddersfield Town and see the Whites into the last eight for only the third time in their history.
The last time they qualified for the quarter-finals came just four years ago when they went down 4-2 at eventual runners-up Liverpool.
Before that, it was in 1956 when they went one step further and reached the semi-finals, only to lose out to Manchester United’s Busby babes over two legs.
While Wanderers have regularly participated in the Youth Cup since its inception in 1952/53, progress into the latter stages has not been as forthcoming.
Since their first tie, a 3-1 home defeat to Bury, the Whites have only made it to round five on eight occasions before this campaign.
They beat Nottingham Forest the last time, 1-0, before that Liverpool defeat in 2009.
The Wanderers side included the likes of current first-team squad members Joe Riley and Michael O’Halloran, while Liverpool fielded Andre Wisdom, Tom Ince and Nathan Eccleston at Anfield. Prior to that, they lost 1-0 to Southampton in 2006 and 3-0 away at Blackburn in 2001 – both at the fifth-round stage.
Wanderers have met Tottenham just once before in the Youth Cup and that ended in a 2-1 home defeat for the Whites at the Reebok in 2002.
Spurs reached round five last season before a 1-0 defeat at Charlton; while Wanderers exited in the fourth round when Southampton triumphed 2-1 in Lancashire.
This campaign, Wanderers U18s have lost just three times in the league – the last two coming in the Elite Group Phase of the Premier League to Manchester United and to a late winner from Everton.
In the FA Youth Cup, they beat Portsmouth 2-1 at the Reebok in round three and followed that up with a 2-0 victory at Reading.
Tottenham’s progress to date has seen them win away at Cheltenham (1-0) and West Ham (5-2).
The north Londoners last made the final in 1995 when they lost 4-3 on penalties to Manchester United. They have won the Youth Cup on three occasions – the most recent in 1990 when they beat Middlesbrough in the final.