Road to Wembley – Brad Sandeman
Road to Wembley – Brad Sandeman

With the Vase Final now just hours away, we continue our unrivaled series of interviews with the men who have taken Tunbridge Wells all the way down the Road to Wembley.Brad Sandeman

This time we catch up with a veteran of over 200 Football League appearances, and having experienced heartbreak at the “old” Wembley, is determined to guide the Wells to Wembley success – we’re talking to the assistant manager BRAD SANDEMAN…

Martin Larkin’s right hand man admitted that he’s thoroughly enjoyed the three weeks since the club beat Shildon to qualify for the Final. Brad told us, “It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster to get to the position that we’re in but with all the help from everyone at the club it’s been terrific.”

“I’ve been to Wembley as a player on three occasions – unfortunately twice I was injured and on the third occasion I wasn’t picked so I’ve seen both sides of the coin, but after that I didn’t dream that I’d ever get back there!”

“That’s just another reason why this season has been so great that we’ve made it. I missed the Freight Rover Trophy Final in 92 with Port Vale – that’s a long time ago now, and in the same year I missed the Play Off Final because I was injured. And a couple of years later still at Port Vale we got to the Final of the Anglo Italian Cup – and I think we played Genoa – but sadly I wasn’t picked for that one!!!”

The ever growing support from across the County that will see more than 10,000 making their own “March to the Arch” on Saturday afternoon hasn’t gone unnoticed in the Wells dug out!

“The level of support from everyone in Kent has been absolute superb and it’s just a shame that our League season has been allowed to peter out to what is has as we’ve had a ridiculous schedule to try and keep up with which has been a little detrimental to us as we wanted to keep the winning run going.”

“Unfortunately that hasn’t been possible, but the way the lads has been fantastic, and now that we’ve got the League games out of the way after playing Cray Valley on Monday night, everyone can seriously start thinking and focusing on Saturday now.”

“The amount of League games we’ve been forced to play has been a problem – at one stage I think it was something like seven games in ten days! It is just a ridiculous ask for any team anywhere in the country – unfortunately it has been detrimental to us as we had a crack at the League and wanted to keep the momentum going and hopefully could have gone reasonably high up the League to challenge VCD and Erith & Belvedere but that’s not happened!”

“So the last couple of weeks have been all about keeping the guys as fresh as we could the ones we think are going to be playing and keep them going and ticking over until Saturday!”

Having to play all those games may not have been a problem for the players, but for the coaching staff, it’s been a real headache as Brad explained. He said, “We’ve been desperate to get on the training ground and we are so grateful that Corinthian agreed to calling the game off last week- we just needed a session to settle everyone down and go through a few things and keep reminding them what they’ve got to be doing.”

With the big day now so very nearly upon us, we finished by asking Brad what would be going through his mind when the time comes for Wells to enter the Venue of Legends for the pre match “preliminaries”.

He said, “It’s a case of I hope we play well. It’ll be a case of what Martin and I do will be all but done and now it’s down to the players – we will have done what we can – now it’ll be down to them. If they play to their ability and the ability that we all know they’ve got, we’ve got a very very good chance of winning it!”