Wroxham skipper happy with underdogs tag

PUBLISHED: 21:06 08 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:19 10 September 2010

Paddy Davitt

Wroxham captain Graham Challen insists the Yachtsmen are happy to be cast as underdogs.

Challen has shaken off a hamstring injury to lead Norfolk's FA Vase flag bearers at Wembley tomorrow against holders Whitley Bay.

Wroxham captain Graham Challen insists the Yachtsmen are happy to be cast as underdogs.

Challen has shaken off a hamstring injury to lead Norfolk's FA Vase flag bearers at Wembley tomorrow against holders Whitley Bay.

The central defender is warning the north easterners not to underestimate David Batch's side ahead of the biggest game in their history.

“They are a good side who have been there or thereabouts the last three seasons so we respect them,” said Challen. “But like every team they are beatable and we will go into the match with a game plan and be just as prepared as in the previous rounds.

“Probably every tie apart from the first two we've been underdogs and written off and if you look at our league form you can see why - but this competition has been a priority for us this season. There's no two ways about that. Next season might be different in terms of trying to win the league but we are confident in ourselves and we believe that we have players in our team to cause them problems.”

Challen admits overcoming inevitable pre-match nerves could be crucial to the Yachtsmen's hopes.

“The manager will have us well prepared,” he said. “Dealing with the whole occasion, playing in front of that crowd, its something we almost need to eliminate and we've managed to do it in previous rounds. Don't get me wrong, its going to be harder this time because there is going to be a lot of expectation and people coming to watch us who perhaps wouldn't normally - maybe even some family and friends who have not seen you play at all.

“Off the pitch there will be a lot of distractions, but at the end of the day it's a 90 minute game of football. That's what we're going for and that is the bit we need to get right - everything else has to be a sideshow.”

The Trafford Park outfit is poised to sample the special Wembley atmosphere at today's FA Trophy curtain raiser - Challen's third visit to the national stadium during the build up.

“There's a lot to take in,” he said. “Even standing on the pitch it doesn't really sink in. It's just so massive. The warm up area, the tunnel and the changing rooms alone are bigger than my house. It's a lot to take in but it's unbelievably good - the pitch looks lovely, it's newly-laid and compared to what we have been playing on of late it is superb.

“I'm glad I got the chance to come down before the game because it's the sheer size of the place - the pitch, the stadium, the warm up areas - and the opportunity to do that can only benefit us as a group.”

Challen is now potentially 90 minutes from becoming the first Norfolk captain to lift a trophy at the home of football in 16 years since Diss triumphed in the same competition.

“I've thought about it a lot - I would be lying if I said I hadn't,” he said. “That would be one of the proudest moments of my life, to go up the steps and lead such a great team and hopefully pick that trophy up.

“But until we do it, its Whitley Bay's trophy. They are there to defend it; we are there to take it off them. We have to remember what got us to Wembley and don't stop doing that because if we don't turn up and don't play well for those 90 minutes then everything else will turn into a negative occasion and a memory. For us, it's all about getting yourself in the right frame of mind so we don't freeze and we can put on a performance.”

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