Dreams of Wembley – by Luke Coulson, Of Ebbsfleet United and the FWA
It was a cold September morning and my manager pulled me to one side after the training session to talk about our upcoming fixture. The meaning of the conversation was simple; my gaffer wanted to ask if I was ready to play against my former club, Eastleigh FC.
Of course, my answer was yes.
Despite the fact that I have fond memories from my time at the club, I only played for the Spitfires for a single season, hardly a Ryan Giggs length of service. Nonetheless, the question from my manager needed to be asked as facing up against your former team mates for the first time can be a difficult challenge.
That particular Vanarama National League encounter earlier in the season ended in 2 -2 draw, but what I remember most about that game was my disappointing performance and the fact that I clearly didn’t handle the pressure very well. I remember striding out on to the pitch that day to demonstrate my ability, but I walked off that day thinking that my former employers must have returned to Hampshire with the opinion that selling me in January to Barnet was a great decision.
This weekend, however, I have the opportunity to give a better account of myself as we once more welcome Eastleigh FC to Stonebridge Road for the first round of the FA Trophy.
The BuildBase FA Trophy not only gives us a chance to have a break from the Vanarama National League but gives us an opportunity to try and repeat the feat of the Ebbsfleet United squad from 2007/08 that lifted the famous trophy for the first time in the club’s history.
In addition to trying to emulate the past, as a team we also want to continue our excellent recent home form which will lead us into the busy Christmas schedule. After beating Leyton Orient and Hartlepool before enjoying a rare weekend off, last Saturday we won our third home game on the bounce by outclassing Guiseley, which was evident in the 4-0 score line.
In the opening game of the season, Guiseley held us to a 2-2 draw and therefore we knew what to expect from our opponents and knew that if our mindset was right, we would win the game comfortably. The win has lifted us to tenth in the table and has added to our ever growing confidence as we head into the first round of the FA Trophy.
This weekend, not only am I focused on putting on a performance that my former club won’t forget but I want to help the team move one step closer to every young footballer’s dream, playing at Wembley.