Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
‘We’re not going for a day out. We will be there to win’ - Gary Mills
3:01pm Wednesday 9th May 2012 in Video
Manager Gary Mills is desperate to bring the FA Trophy back to Bootham Crescent. DAVE FLETT talks to the York City chief ahead of the final.
YORK City manager Gary Mills reckons his team’s greater experience of playing under the famous Wembley arch could prove crucial come Saturday’s FA Trophy final meeting with Newport.
The Exiles go into the showcase clash with only two players – veteran defender Wayne Hatswell and forward Darryl Knights – having previously played at the national stadium.
Hatswell was a member of the Cambridge United team beaten by Exeter in the 2008 Conference play-off final a year after Knights was a member of the Yeovil side that lost their League One promotion decider against Blackpool.
City, meanwhile, can boast six players from this weekend’s squad – James Meredith, Daniel Parslow, Jason Walker, Michael Ingham, Jon Challinor and Moses Ashikodi – who have all played at Wembley since its 2007 redevelopment, not to mention crocked centre-back David McGurk.
Of that group, Walker is the only man to have tasted victory on the hallowed turf, scoring the extra-time winning goal in Barrow’s 2010 FA Trophy final victory over Stevenage.
But Mills, who was on winning and losing sides during five appearances under the Twin Towers for Leicester, Notts County and England Schoolboys at the old arena, believes any prior knowledge of a Wembley final is beneficial with defeat stiffening the resolve on any return.
He said: “I played at Wembley five times and I know the massive difference between winning and losing there.
“It’s a great place to win but a horrible place to lose.
“I think it helps that we have players who have played at Wembley before.
“Playing there can unsettle players so those who have been before will know what it’s all about, what is needed and how to prepare correctly.
“It’s not just about the 3pm kick off – what you do before is important as well. You can’t let yourself get carried away by the occasion.
“The most important thing is we are going to Wembley for a game of football.
“We’re not going for a day out, to come to London and admire a lovely stadium with beautiful surroundings and dressing rooms or to enjoy some nice food and drinks.
“We will be there to win a trophy and, whatever that takes, we will have to make sure we do it.”
Matty Blair, City’s seven-goal leading marksman in this season’s competition, is one of the players in Mills’ squad who has not previously run out at the home of English football but the Bootham Crescent chief believes the stadium’s renowned wide open spaces will suit his hard-working wing man.
“I do think the pitch is made for him,” Mills said of Blair. “He’s full of running, enthusiasm and endeavour.
“He plays with that smile on his face and I love people who do that.”
Mills took Blair along with him to last month’s Trophy media day with the manager also gaining his first sight of the £757 million venue.
On his impressions, the City manager said: “It’s a fantastic stadium and a magnificent place that’s worth all the effort when you reach a final there.
“The old stadium was lovely, but the new stadium is modern and the pitch is absolutely pristine.”
Prior to kicking a ball in this season’s competition, Mills signalled his intention to win the Trophy and is determined to deliver on his promise, adding: “I always say that managing at non-League level you are never going to win the FA Cup but you can win the FA Trophy and it’s a fantastic competition.
“Getting to the quarter-finals with Grantham is the furthest I’ve been before before but, don’t ask me why, I had a strong feeling this season, even before the first game against Solihull, that I wanted to win it this year.
“I believe that when you want something badly you get it and I want this trophy badly.”