This year's Emirates FA Cup Final will pay tribute to some of the real heroes from up and down the country.
Completing this season’s campaign has required a collective effort and there have been 100s of people who have helped along the way, whether it's through volunteering or simply going the extra yard to help their club compete in the competition.
- The Emirates FA Cup Final
- 5.15pm BST, Saturday 15 May 2021
- Wembley Stadium connected EE
- Live on BBC and BT Sport in the UK
We received nominations from all 737 participating clubs and the general public for some inspirational stories of people who have gone above and beyond their duties in aid of the competition and their local communities amid the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result, a selection of nominees will be recognised and celebrated in the lead up to the 140th Cup Final on Saturday, when Chelsea face Leicester City at Wembley Stadium connected by EE.
There will be a series of ‘Thank You’ pieces shared across our digital channels and in the matchday programme, as well as on the day itself with invitations to attend, bespoke banners, a video played out on the stadium’s big screens following ‘Abide with Me’ and nominees from Chelsea and Leicester City performing the traditional pre-match trophy walkout.
To give you a flavour, read more about some of those heroes and how they helped below.
Phil Weller – Hampton & Richmond Borough FC
Phil is the driving force behind a two-days-a-week working party of volunteers, who maintain and improve the club's Beveree ground each week. He retired last year from his job as a travelling salesman, which was just as well as he was pitched straight into the role of club COVID Officer at the start of the 2020-21 season when no other volunteers came forward. He quickly embraced the job, learning as quickly as he could from as many sources as he could find. He has since ensured the highest level of protocols at training sessions and behind-closed-doors matches, to ensure everyone’s safety during the pandemic. This has meant him attending every training session and every match, home and away, arriving sometimes three hours ahead of the game to ensure he can run a temperature check on every member of our party and get them to sign an attendance register.
When the National League also required each club to appoint a medical officer, who had to be on the General Medical Council list, this posed a real problem for the club but, through his efforts, he made contact with an A&E doctor at West Middlesex Hospital, who has since been recruited to the cause.
All of the above has happened while Phil continues to have responsibility, as the only child, for his elderly mother, who has not always been in the best of health.
A real hero, who carries forward his supporters’ chairmanship with an active role on the club’s board.
Richard Cross – Marine FC
Richard is a part time volunteer club official whose main responsibility is representing our football club in the secretary role. The demands and requirements placed on Richard as secretary by the opposing clubs, TV companies, the FA and local authorities [Merseyside Police & Sefton Council] were immense.
Undaunted, he showed a professionalism beyond his years. His friendly and uncompromising approach helped him through some real challenges not previously experienced.
Interviewed live on MOTD, having regular Zoom meetings with his counterpart at Tottenham Hotspur, implementing COVID arrangements for all visitors to the stadium [including media and BBC broadcasting staff], arranging overnight hotel and executive travel for our players and officials, persuading George Davies [founder of George at Asda] to sell match programmes and scarves through his online retail outlets, playing a key part to obtain approval to stage the Tottenham game at Marine and conducting successful discussions with the BBC to screen the FA Cup third round draw at Marine were just some of the extraordinary tasks that Richard completed.
There were many other time consuming tasks, especially in administration duties in the build-up to each of these Cup games, which were managed carefully by him but could only be achieved by taking a two week holiday from his full time job as a travel consultant.
His enthusiasm, willingness, confidence and professionalism played a massive part in making the unbelievable actually happen and the many letters of thanks and congratulations from the football family around the world was a real appreciation to what he and the club achieved.