Lisbie looking forward to Wembley
Lisbie looking forward to Wembley

There’s lots of hope and expectation of Cray Valley (PM) fans heading for Wembley and Sunday’s Buildbase FA Vase Final upon the shoulders of forty year old striker Kevin Lisbie who could be ninety minutes away from ending a hugely satisfying career.

Speaking to KSN, Lisbie admitted, “Excited and really looking forward to it – it’s been a long while! It’s been a long time since the Semi Final, but it’s given all of us the time to enjoy it, I think… It’s been an amazing season for the club and it’s right up there in my career.”

“To get to Wembley and win the League is really amazing. Yes, our aim at the start of the season was to win the League, but to top it off on Sunday with a game at Wembley is amazing and a great achievement for the club.

Our battle in the League was right up there in any battles as Corinthian kept winning and so did we – just like the Premier League – and it went all the way to the end where we were lucky enough that there was one last twist in our League that there wasn’t nationally!

With his career possibly almost over, we wondered where this season rated in the Lisbie scrapbook.

He told us, “with football it’s about living the moment, and all the achievements that I’ve had in my career are in the past, and so with that I guess that this is probably the best season of my career – I’m forty years old and I’ve got one hundred and fifty people coming to watch me at Wembley – and that’s just my family and they’ve always been passionate about me playing and of anything that I’ve done in the game – and whether it’s my last game or not, it’ll be nice to play at Wembley again at my age.”

“My family has followed me through my whole career and for them to be watching me at Wembley at my age is a big deal for everyone. It’s looking that Sunday could well be my swansong as my knees are giving me problems at the moment… but what a way to sign off.”

Given that admission from Lisbie, it enables you to draw comparisons for the only time that a Kent side has ever won the competition – Deal Town in 2000 – when they too started with a forty year-old striker who finished his career that day with a winners medal – his name? Former Gillingham boss Steve Lovell!

Valley boss Kevin Watson was the man who took Lisbie to Badgers, and given some of the managers he’s played for, we asked where he ranked the man who almost certainly will be his last gaffer.

I’ve known Kevin since I was 14/15,” Lisbie told us. “I turned him down initially when he asked me to sign. And then he called me again six weeks later and it was then I decided to have a game to see how it went and I didn’t realise how much of a good manager he was as he just convinced me to play week after week at a time when I was seriously looking to retire.”

“The team plays exactly how he wants us to play and I seriously believe that we’re where we are at the moment because of him, and I’m sure one day, he’ll manage somewhere a lot, lot higher…

Both Gavin (Tomlin) and I have played there before. You play there once and think that that might be it and you won’t play again. If I’ll tell the boys one thing it will be to enjoy the build up and do your best, not to leave anything out on the pitch as I’m told that there is no better feeling in the game than to win a trophy at Wembley, which sadly both Gavin and I haven’t done yet!”

“It’s been three weeks since the League finished and obviously longer than that since we got to the Final and we have had to be focused. And you’ve also got to remember that there will be professional players who won’t do what we’re going to do on Sunday!

Lisbie’s final thoughts were for all those off the pitch who have enjoyed such a truly incredible season.

The committee have been excellent all the time I’ve been at the club,” Lisbie commented. “Everything they promised me when I signed has happened – they said they wanted to win the League and have a Cup run.”

“Well, we’ve done both this season in a really good year. They’ve put their hands in their pockets and backed Kevin (Watson) the whole way and Sunday is for them as they will watch their team walk out on that pitch on Sunday and boy do, they deserve it!