Martin recalls Wembley memories
Martin recalls Wembley memories

After Cray Valley (PM) sealed their place at Wembley in the FA Vase with an aggregate win over Canterbury City, KSN has been talking to THE only Kent skipper ever to lift the FA Vase at Wembley – the Deal Town skipper who won the Vase back in 2000, Terry Martin.

Terry has been speaking to KSN football editor Mike Green and they started by recalling Deal’s own Semi Final nineteen years ago against Newcastle Town.

“It only seems like yesterday,” Terry admitted. “They were both such fantastic occasions, the two legs – they were amazing – the atmosphere and the tension because it was such a big occasion. I think we possibly had a “bigger” Semi because we didn’t know Newcastle the way that Canterbury and Cray Valley do. It was probably the down side of this draw as it would have been great to have an all Kent final.

Terry had a mini unplanned reunion with some of his old team-mates at Saturday’s Second Leg as he was joined on the Salters Lane terraces by fellow defender Steve Forrest and striker Steve Marshall, whose cross that joyous May 2000 afternoon was magnificently volleyed home by Roly Graham.

Another member of that victorious team at Faversham was of course Tommy Sampson, their charismatic manager, whose enthusiasm is still so very evident even though time has not been kind to the former boss!

We were away in the first leg and we stayed over night in Stoke,” Terry recalled. “When we went to the ground, we found it had a cycle track around it which actually did remind me of the old Canterbury ground when they had the speedway track around the pitch.”

“As we went through the competition, every game became a bigger game – the tension got bigger and bigger – but I must admit the Semi Finals, both legs, were probably the most nervous I was in the whole competition, Final included, because we were so close to achieving our boyhood dream of playing at Wembley and trying to challenge that nervousness especially as skipper, I couldn’t really show those feelings.”

“I was so focused in keeping calm and projecting a calm image trying to make sure that we were all focused on the team tactics that Tommy (Sampson) had a game plan which we stuck to home and away.

With the lead, we asked what the second leg was like to play in. “Funnily enough after winning the away leg 2-0 and it put us in control as it were, but, “confessed the Deal skipper, “it still put more pressure on us playing at home as we had the lead and with 90 minutes to go. But when you’ve got the lead, it really is tough to know if you should attack it or try to defend your lead.

We were fortunate at the start of the second leg when one of their defenders tried to clear it and it hit Roly Graham and went into the top corner which took a bit of the pressure off us as Newcastle were an excellent side and put us under the cosh and bombarded us for the rest of the game.”

“One of their forwards went onto play League football at Grimsby I think the following season and they had Ray Walker in midfield who played over 400 League games for Port Vale. He was a quality player…

The whole experience that the Cray Valley players are now looking at really is unbelievable. Whatever you imagine as a child about playing at Wembley as a footballer it surpassed it – the whole experience.”

“The hair still stands up on the back of my neck when I remember Wembley and the Semi Finals even now the occasion! I do know that we were emotionally drained after the second Newcastle game and we just sat in the dressing room – the crowd had been fantastic – and we just sat there waiting for it to actually sink in that we’d done it and were going to Wembley and it was a dream come true.”