Non League Daily

FA VASE FINAL: Robins boss Fenton wants "one last push" on the big day

As he prepares to lead his North Shields side out at Wembley in the FA Vase Final manager Graham Fenton reflected on a whirlwind year for the EBAC Northern League outfit.

Twelve months ago the Robins had just sealed the Second Division title and were starting to plan for life in the top tier of the Northern League.

Preparations were clouded as Fenton admitted they "weren't sure what to expect" after promotion but after a top four finish he expressed his hopes that there would be "one last push" when they face Glossop North End on Saturday.

"Last season was great, winning the Second Division title was the very least the lads deserved. We came up, we weren't sure what to expect and we have exceeded what we thought we might acheive.

Reaching the Vase final is the icing on the cake and all we can do is go down there, give our all and put in a performance. We need one last push and hopefully that will be enough"

The former Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa player is used to pressure situations after a playing career that included Premier League and England U21 appearances but he insisted that the pressure was all on their opponents at Wembley, rating his own side as "slight underdogs" going into the game.

"There is no expectation and no pressure on us heading down there. We have done well over the past two years to get where we are and the onus is probably more on Glossop with their resources, I would rate us as slight underdogs going into the game"

Nerves, Fenton revealed, will not play a part ahead of the game, as he focuses on the last-minute preparations. The Robins travel to London on Friday and their manager is taking every precaution to make sure they go into the big game in the best possible shape.

"There are no nerves, I am just focused on getting the preparation right and so far we have done exactly that. I guess the excitement will kick in on Friday when we are heading down there. We have trained well and have a session on Wednesday night before a final one on Friday when we get to London.

Then we will make a visit to Wembley on Friday night and get the lads used to their surroundings, make sure they know what the whole day is about. But as for nerves, I don't have any at all, I am just focusing on getting things right"

Cup Final fever has well and truly kicked in on North Tyneside with over 4,500 supporters expected to back the Robins at Wembley.

Local schools and businesses have shown their support too and Fenton paid tribute to the town, revealing just how important it was to him and his players.

"It's been brilliant having the support of the town. When you are in a league like we are, and in a region like we are, sometimes you need other ways to motivate a player to sign for you. Instead of money we can say 'Come and play in front of crowds of 500-600, or on the odd occasion over a thousand'.

It's an incentive to play in front of big crowds for the players and they have thrived on that this season. The town being behind us has been massive and it is a big boost for the whole club"

Interview: Mark Carruthers
Image: Russell Wynn




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