Lowestoft skipper so proud to lead side at Wembley
Michael Bailey Lowestoft Town captain Marcus Saunders can barely bring himself to think about the next 24 hours - which will see him lead out his side for the biggest football match in their history.
Lowestoft Town captain Marcus Saunders can barely bring himself to think about the next 24 hours - which will see him lead out his side for the biggest football match in their history.
The Blues take on Kirkham & Wesham at Wembley Stadium tomorrow (kick-off 3pm) in the FA Vase final and Saunders is well aware he will not only be leading his side out onto the pitch at the world's most famous football arena - he may also be only 90 minutes from walking up the 107 steps to receive the silverware.
"I've had my first sleepless night on Wednesday, when I woke up at about 3am and couldn't get back to sleep again, so that's probably not going to be the best preparation," said the 33-year-old central defender. "I think the nerves are starting to set in.
You may also want to watch:
"But it's been phenomenal. I'm just overawed by everything. I never thought it would be this popular with everyone.
"It has been non-stop; fans and people coming up to you, or popping round to knock on your door and wish you good luck, both here and in neighbouring towns."
- 1 “It was high on Ben and it was a red card' - Giannoulis bang to rights for Woodgate
- 2 Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Premier League-bound Canaries' 3-1 defeat against Bournemouth
- 3 Paddy Davitt: Player ratings after Canaries' 3-1 Bournemouth defeat
- 4 City players and fans celebrate promotion on social media
- 5 Farke savours sweet Premier League promotion after rollercoaster ride
- 6 WATCH: Delighted Delia Smith leads Canaries fans in Emi Buendia sing song
- 7 'Amazing' - Buendia hails City's special promotion achievement
- 8 Paddy Davitt verdict: I'll have a P please City
- 9 'A wonderful season' - Praise pours in for City from legends and pundits
- 10 Norwich City fans gather at Carrow Road to celebrate promotion
But while the reality of the situation will probably only dawn on the Town skipper when the big kick-off finally approaches, Saunders and his team-mates believe the Vase is theirs for the taking and they are putting in the legwork to prove it.
"Everybody's been working very hard and we're sweating buckets at the minute," added Saunders. "We've been training twice a week and had a friendly last week. We're not overdoing it, but just enough to make sure we are fit for Wembley and nothing too silly.
"I think, quietly, we're very confident. We have had a very poor league season but the last few games we have started to play some very good stuff and the confidence is coming back. We have started to play like when we won the league in 2006 and teams haven't been able to contain our attacking play for a whole 90 minutes.
"And the pitch should suit us. We've played on some awful pitches this season. Obviously it is the same for both teams, but we are known to be a footballing side and have struggled at times against more physical sides. But on the big pitch at Wembley, I'm sure it will give us the chance to carve them open."
Should tomorrow's showdown go to plan for Saunders, he admitted there is a twinge of temptation to finish his career on the biggest high possible - but only a twinge.
"I'm extremely proud to lead Lowestoft Town out at Wembley. All my family and friends have said they're proud of what I have achieved and if I do get to lift the Vase, it will be the best moment of my career; the absolute pinnacle," said Saunders.
"It [retirement] has been in the back of my mind. It would be very hard to retain the Vase if we did win it but I don't know, I'm not sure yet. I've been told by the managers, friends etcetera that as long as my legs are working I have to keep playing.
"I'm trying not to think about any of it too much. The fans at the new Wembley feel closer than the old one and to have that amount of support, 15,000 fans, doesn't bear thinking about - otherwise I won't get any sleep until Monday."