Whitley Bay skipper aiming to wreck Wroxham's Wembley bid
Paddy Davitt Whitley Bay's stand-in skipper Leon Ryan is targeting a unique treble against Wroxham in Sunday's FA Vase final at Wembley.
Whitley Bay's stand-in skipper Leon Ryan is targeting a unique treble against Wroxham in Sunday's FA Vase final at Wembley.
Ryan has already guided the holders to the Northumberland Senior Cup at Newcastle's St James' Park and captained Hetton Lyons to FA Sunday Cup victory at Anfield within the past month. Now the central defender wants to help wreck Wroxham's FA Vase glory bid to cap a fantastic season.
“To play at three massive stadiums in a row is probably unprecedented for players at our level,” said Ryan, who skippers the side in the absence of David Coulson after his defensive partner suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury in the semi-final win over Barwell. “It's just the way it has fallen. I'm the only person to win three FA Sunday Cups, I believe, and everything seems to be coming together this season but the big one is Wembley and I would give anything to have that trophy.
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“To get to the FA Vase final two years in a row is something I thought I would never do. Now to be the skipper and play at Wembley twice is a dream come true. To play at the national stadium again is a massive honour and hopefully we can do ourselves justice.”
Ryan insists last year's Wembley triumph will not give Bay a major edge over David Batch's side.
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“I've already told the lads I don't think the experience of being here before is a massive advantage,” he said. “If we don't perform on the day it will count for nothing. If they freeze, then it's an advantage to us but we are not banking on that. People might label us favourites and, rightly so in some eyes, but we are not that type of club.
“We know how good we are and if we play well and play at our maximum we have a good chance. If we drop off those levels then Wroxham are not going to be a bad team. You don't get to the FA Vase final if you are - so they won't be mugs. We've had them watched and from speaking to their manager he seems an intelligent guy who knows his football. He would've been foolish not to do his homework, the same as us, but at the end of the day they don't know how I or the team will perform.”
Ryan admits the holders have an extra motivation after inspirational captain Coulson was ruled out until the New Year.
“I've been vice captain all season so I've stepped in when he had the odd game out injured but I would hand it back in a second to have him playing alongside me,” said Ryan. “From a personal point of view he is one of my good friends and because he is walking around normally you wouldn't actually know he has done his knee and is out until next year.
“It's just a fantastic honour for me. When I led the side at St James' recently that was when I really thought about doing it at Wembley. There won't be a prouder person or family in the stadium when I lead the team out. As a centre half I would settle for 1-0 but if I had to put money on it then it will probably be 4-3 because we always get involved in high scoring games. If it's the most boring game and we sneak it then I'll take that, but I'm pretty confident we'll see more goals.”
Tickets to watch Wroxham at Wembley on Sunday are priced �25 and �12.50 for under 16s and supporters aged 60 and over.
For a full list of outlets selling tickets along with travel information visit wroxhamfc.com or call Trafford Park direct on 01603 783538.
Watch a special video featuring behind-the-scenes Wembley footage and a touchline interview with Batch from Wroxham's recent press day at the national stadium only on edp24.co.uk/sport