In 2000, the last Final played under the “old” Twin Towers at Wembley saw Kent’s only ever triumph in the FA Vase when an eighty-eighth minute screamer from midfielder Roly Graham won the competition for Tommy Sampson’s Deal Town against favourites Chippenham Town.
The man tasked with lifting the trophy that famous May afternoon was Terry Martin and Terry has been reminiscing with KSN Football Editor Mike Green…
“It only seems like it was last week! It still brings the hairs up on the back of my neck when I think about Wembley,” Terry admitted.
“It’s a fantastic experience that lives with you forever and I still remember so much about the whole weekend all the way through the build up and of course the match itself! I was 33 at the time and definitely thought that any chance that I had of playing there had long since gone!”
“We had some great memories from that run – winning at Eastleigh in the early rounds after being 1-3 down; the trip to Crook which is still probably the bleakest place I’ve ever played football. But yet it was probably there where I at least actually first thought that we could go all the way.”
After a 3-1 two-legged Semi Final win over Newcastle Town, Deal headed to the Twin Towers to face a Chippenham side, who unlike their Kent opponents were able to build on their Wembley experience and this past season finished mid-table in the Vanarama National League South, whilst for Deal it was 11th in the SCEFL.
Back to 2000, and Terry remembered the first time the squad saw the national stadium with a tour on the Friday afternoon.
“We went to the hotel at Burnham Beeches (where the England team used to stay) and then we were taken to Wembley for a tour. We were the only ones around and went walking on the pitch with a lot of us phoning our friends saying, “Guess where I’m talking to you from?” We were so focused walking round the ground and the ground staff were preparing the pitch around us whilst we were just in awe of the place!”
“And I remember that there was a “Welcome to Deal Town” on the old electronic scoreboard which was amazing as the last time I had been to watch a game at the stadium was in 1981 to watch West Ham in the League Cup against Liverpool!”
“It was surreal as it had always been a boyhood dream to play there and if honest, it was only then that it sank in that we were playing there the following day.”
And so, to the game itself. “We’d had a lot of messages at the hotel from different people from around Kent football – all before the days of Twitter and Social Media! We had a police escort all the way through West London, which was new to us, and as soon as we saw the Twin Towers the coach started to “liven” up.”
“It was the crowd that really got us going – firstly outside and then once we’d got into the dressing rooms… you could feel the atmosphere, yet it surprised me when we walked out and saw that there was around 20,000 there. I made a conscious effort to take it all in as you always hear from Cup Finals that the days are a blur. I think that the most exciting bit was waiting in the tunnel to come out onto the pitch – it really was amazing and a really great occasion to finally walk forward onto the pitch.”
“It was such a hot day and you always hear that the pitch is draining but until you’ve played on it, you really don’t know what to expect!”
“We lost Dave Monteith early on which was sad as he was a massive part of us getting there. It was 0-0 at half time and Tommy just told us to keep going and that the chances would come!”
“I must admit that I felt quite exhausted by half time, but we knew we had to focus on the game plan and not the crowd which was difficult as most of us hadn’t played in front of a crowd that big before!”
They eventually won the game in the 88th minute… but we’ll let Terry take up the story.
“I remember looking up when Steve Marshall went down the right, and I saw that Roly (Graham) has acres of space around him as the cross came in, and I was yelling at him to control it before he did anything!”
“Fortunately, he either didn’t hear me or he ignored me as he volleyed the ball into the net before charging off on a lap of honour! I was so tired that even if I’d have wanted to, there was no way I was going to catch him… so, I just waited for him to come back to the centre! It was a fantastic goal,” Terry said, adding the cliché, “It really was a goal good enough to win any Cup Final!”
“There were three minutes of injury time, and I swear they were the longest three minutes of my career. But we got there eventually, and I remember seeing a photograph in one of the papers, at the final whistle where my face looked like it was going to explode as it was such an amazing moment – the final whistle!”
“Then we had to walk up the steps – I bumped into a few people I knew on the way – and then show the Trophy off to our supporters who were fantastic.”
“If there was one thing I will pass onto the Cray Valley players before Sunday, it simply would be to enjoy and remember every single minute as you may not ever get back there, and I hope that after Sunday, Andy (Walker) joins me in the “club” of winning Kent captains at Wembley!”
This article was taken from Kent Sports News website