Thatcham Town FC has been in existence for 124 years but is now fast approaching by far the biggest game in its history.
The Berkshire club take to the Wembley turf on Non-League Finals Day this Sunday to face the Northern League’s Stockton Town in a huge Buildbase FA Vase Final.
Cup fever has most definitely taken hold of the town, population 26,000, with attendances growing throughout the Vase rounds and now with almost 5,000 fans expected at Wembley.
- Thatcham Town v Stocktown Town
- Wembley Stadium
- 12.15pm, Sunday 20 May 2018
- Non-League Finals Day
- By Richard Dore
As well as having Sunday to look forward to, Thatcham have won promotion, topping the Hellenic League on goal difference and earning elevation to the Southern League West.
“To get promoted was always the main aim for us,” said Kingfishers manager Danny Robinson.
“Then with the Vase it’s just see how far you get, to get to the Final will be the biggest game in the club’s history by a country mile.
“The squad’s brilliant, we trained this week at the Madejski stadium. Reading were brilliant to let us have that and all the lads are bouncing, they can’t wait.
“17 of them have got one of the most memorable days in their lives really, let alone football.
“Around the town you see scarves, flags and everything, it’s surreal.
“You walk to get a pint of milk in the shop and you’re getting asked questions and everyone’s talking about Wembley, it’s absolutely amazing!
“Thatcham’s only really a dot on the map and to generate almost 5,000 supporters going up is phenomenal.”
Robinson has been in sole charge of the team for a year and a half, with things coming together this season to produce a 40-game unbeaten run.
Thatcham also possess one of the most prolific strikers in the country – Shane Cooper-Clark – whose 62 goals this term have been a useful factor in the club’s push for a historic double.
Robinson added: “He’s [Cooper-Clark] fully fit and he looked even better in training last night, I won’t ever tell him that to his face!
“He’s a threat but he’s a wonderful kid as well, he’s down to earth, there’s no heirs or graces about him, what you see is what you get and he’s a pleasure to work with.
“We’ve actually had two cup finals over the last few weeks which we’ve lost.
“It’s human nature and the players are just focused on one of the biggest games of their lives so I can take that one on the chin, as long as we win on Sunday!”
Buildbase FA Vase history
The furthest that Thatcham had reached previously in the Buildbase FA Vase was a quarter-final in 1989 where they lost out to Hungerford Town. Meanwhile, their opponents on Saturday – Stocktown Town – have reached the final in only their second ever campaign in the competition, and reached the second round at the first attempt last season.
Did you know?
Southampton forward Charlie Austin enjoyed a spell at Thatcham Town in 2008, whilst FA Cup winner Lawrie Sanchez also played three games for the club in the 70s.
The winning team at Wembley on Sunday will be awarded £30,000 prize money whilst the other finalist will receive £20,000.