FA Trophy - Rocks v Torquay: In my mind’s eye, I can see Wembley

Bognor fans at Sutton / Picture by Tim Hale

Bognor fans at Sutton / Picture by Tim Hale

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To say Bognor’s fans are enjoying their FA Trophy run is something of an under-statement.

In fact, when asked a few weeks back if they would prefer the Wembley final or promotion, if they could have only one, most were quick to request a march to the arch for the FA Trophy final. So much for concentrating on the league.

Few have been watching the Rocks longer than their commercial manager Maurice Warner (65 years so far) and he can’t wait for Saturday.

“I, like several others, have been around long enough to remember those heady days in the 80s in the FA Cup playing the likes of Swansea and Torquay to mention just two,” he said.

“It is a dream but I can in my mind’s eye picture walking down Wembley Way, sitting in one of the best seats in the house and, even if we were too lose (not too heavily I hope) enjoying what would be the best day in my long association with the club.

“We owe Torquay one following our 3-0 defeat at the Lane in the November 1987 FA Cup tie, when we didn’t give a good account of ourselves on the day.

I can in my mind’s eye picture walking down Wembley Way, sitting in one of the best seats in the house and, even if we were too lose (not too heavily I hope) enjoying what would be the best day in my long association with the club.

Maurice Warner

“It would be a great help to get a big crowd to back the lads on the day – they deserve the support for the way they have performed this season both in the cups and the league.

“I hope the town really get behind the club for this chance to reach the semi-finals of a national competition. COYR.”

Click here to read Jamie Howell and Darin Killpartrick’s thoughts on the game

The Rocks’ supporters’ club have 250 green and white flags and 2,000 green and white balloons to hand out before the game and it looks like more than 200 Torquay fans will make the 150-mile trip along the south coast.

Among them will be the club’s colourful and sometimes controversial mascot Gilbert the Gull.

It’s been a difficult season in the National premier division for the men from Plainmoor and their hopes of regaining the Football League place they have held for 89 of the past 93 seasons disappeared a long time ago - to be replaced by a battle to stay up.

Kevin Nicholson’s side enjoyed a morale-boosting away win last weekend – 1-0 at Boreham Wood – although a number of new signings who played in that victory are Trophy-tied and unable to appear at Bognor.

That was only their third win in 17 away league games and they’ve scored only 33 goals in their 30 league games.

So disillusioned have some Gulls fans with the downward spiral the club seems to be in that manager Nicholson was this week moved to address them in an article on the website, promising that an action group was being set up to get United bosses and fans working together again.

They have beaten Chesham, Wrexham and Macclesfield to reach this stage of the FA Trophy.

Boss Nicholson has a twin aim for the remainder of the season and winning at Bognor is a crucial part of achieving it – that’s because he wants to get the Gulls to Wembley and avoid relegation.

He said after the last-round replay win at Macclesfield: “This season, fifth bottom and finish the season at Wembley – and we will all go away for a great summer. That’s the target, that’s what I have told them, that’s all we need to concentrate on – but we have to do it one game at a time.”

STEVE BONE

Full FA Trophy quarter-final line-up:

Bognor v Torquay United

Grimsby Town v Woking

Nantwich Town v Dover Athletic

FC Halifax Town v Gateshead

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