Ged Scott on what non-League has that the Premiership hasn't...
Roger Ashby has the demeanour more of your favourite uncle than a football manager and it took the Nuneaton Borough manager's kind words so sum up the warmth, friendliness and sheer enjoyment that his side have brought to this season's FA Cup.
After failing at the 11th hurdle on the road to Wembley, Ashby had boldly entered the Riverside press room late on Tuesday night bracing himself for something far more daunting than 90 minutes against rampant Middlesbrough - he was about to endure nine minutes with the massed media.
His mobile telephone rang just as he was about to reach full flow. Courteously, he apologised while reaching down to turn off the offending assessory, informing the assembled gathering: "It's only the chairman!"
As he acknowledged with a grin, switching off the chairman in full flow might earn some managers the sack but that's in the too serious, big business world of professional football.
Jolly Roger thankfully belongs to the more genuine wing of the game known as non-League football, a world of respect, decency, good manners and surprisingly good football.
Sitting in the hot seat normally reserved for moody Premiership managers, Ashby rewound the events of the night, calmly, politely, thoughtfully and at times amusingly answering every question.
No petulant responses, no silent pauses, no attempts to make an inquiring journalist look stupid with a smart answer. And, at the end of it all, as he turned to leave the room, the real 'coup de grace' . . . a show of gratitude.
"Thank you for all the coverage," Ashby said. " We don't get it very often in non-League football and it has been all really appreciated."
A manager actually saying thanks to the press . . . wonders will never cease.
It was Nuneaton Borough who deserve the thanks, though, for helping to bring back a bit of much-missed romance to 'The Cup'.
Admittedly, the estimated £200,000 raked in from Tuesday night will come in handy.
"Finances are very important," Ashby said, "especially as we're moving to a new ground at the end of the season. And, although they reduced the prices, it was better to have a big, good-humoured crowd there. It made the evening and, from the noise our fans made, you'd have thought we'd won the game.
"Coming up here was like our Cup final. Afterwards it was like a carnival. And 27,000 people have gone home very happy - Middlesbrough supporters for winning and the Nuneaton supporters because we haven't let them down. We just wanted to come here and do ourselves justice.
"And you could see by the fans' reaction at the end that we gave everything.
As a manager, you can't ask for more than that. At 5-0 down with half an hour to go, I was getting a bit concerned.
You wonder what the score's going to be but the lads never let their heads drop. I'm really proud for all of them that they didn't die out there and to score those final two goals made it an outstanding night.
"You don't usually get a second bite of the cherry against a Premiership side and, when you do, you don't come out successful. Drawing at Manor Park was an outstanding result. The first game was really close and, although the scoreline doesn't suggest it, once again we gave a good account of ourselves.
"The longer we went on frustrating them, the more I thought we might panic them. We came here with the attitude of not trying to kick them off the pitch but to keep it tight and frustrate them. And, for the first half-hour, it was 'even stevens'.
"But when you make mistakes at the back you get puni shed, and that's the difference in the levels at which we play.
"From the moment they scored it was always going to be an uphill struggle. You don't expect to come back from two goals down."
Now it's back to playing in front of spartan crowds when Ashby's men journey north to play Harrogate Town on Saturday. But the Riverside will not be forgotten.
"We play in front of anything up to 1,000 every week," he said. "And this was a great experience, certainly for my younger players, a lot of whom have been released by league clubs and must have thought they'd never get the chance to play at a Premiership ground. In fact, even for the older lads like Terry Angus and Kevin Wilkin, and even Gez Murphy, what an experience it was for them too!" ..SUPL: