Charlton striker Alfie May admitted he had personal inspiration for scoring twice in his side’s 6-1 FA Cup first-round replay win over Cray Valley at the Artic Stadium.
Now 30, May played in non-league football until he was 23 and demonstrated the hunger that has allowed him to make the transition to the professional game.
May said: “I was so excited to come back here. I’ve been like a big kid all day.
“I looked at the programme and saw Cray’s league table in it with the likes of Hythe Town and Erith & Belvedere, who were teams that I played for. Now I’m playing for Charlton in League One, which is crazy.
“I didn’t get to the first round of the FA Cup when I was in non-league. I was one round away, but you could see tonight how much it means to these type of teams.”
Charlton manager Michael Appleton praised his side’s attitude, but admitted that his team might have been reduced to 10 men just before half-time.
The League One outfit’s keeper Sam Walker brought down Kyrell Lisbie just outside the area, but referee Charles Breakspear awarded a penalty, meaning that under the double jeopardy rule, he could not send off Walker and instead gave him only a yellow card.
Appleton said: “We maybe got a little fortunate that the referee didn’t give them a free-kick because if it’s not a penalty, Sam could have potentially been sent off. But I thought we earned our fortune with the attitude we showed tonight.
“The only thing we lacked in the first half was that killer pass or touch. But we had a great attitude for the whole 95 minutes.
“There was a real focus in the group, we moved the ball really well and once the game opened up in the second half we got our rewards.”
After Lisbie cancelled out May’s opener, Charlton ran riot with Miles Leaburn, May, George Dobson, Tyreece Campbell and Micah Mbick all finding the net.
Cray Valley manager Steve McKimm was far from disappointed with the performance of his part-time players, whose FA Cup run through five qualifying rounds and two televised ties against Charlton has generated around £200,000 for the Isthmian League South East Division club.
McKimm said: “I’m super-proud of my players. They have been beaten by a top League One club.
“My players worked all day today until 4.30 or 5 o’clock, then came here and had to chase shadows at times. Trust me, the Charlton players didn’t have to work today before they came here.
“But the most pleasing thing was that we got a goal for our fans to cheer. The boys have had their moment on the TV twice and done themselves proud because Charlton had to bring out their big guns to come here and win.
“That’s our FA Cup story over and now our focus is on the FA Trophy and the league. The cup run has made the club thousands of pounds. The ground needs a couple of things doing to it to be able to go up if we were to get promoted.”