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HomeUncategorizedStimson bidding to further etch his name in Wembley folklore

Stimson bidding to further etch his name in Wembley folklore

Miracle-maker Mark Stimson doesn’t know the secret to his remarkable FA Trophy record.

But the decorated Hornchurch boss will be channelling all his memories of former glories when he strides down Wembley Way this weekend.

Stimson, 53, boasts a staggering career in the competition and has lifted the storied trophy four times in the last two decades.

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The former defender helped steer Canvey Island to non-league nirvana – as a player – in 2001 before storming to a sensational successive hat-trick of triumphs with Grays Athletic – twice – and Stevenage in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

The Urchins take on Hereford in this year’s showpiece on Saturday but Stimson, whose seventh-tier team have not played a league match since November, admits the key to his heroics is a conundrum he’s yet to crack.

The proud Hornchurch chief, whose side toppled National League Notts County in a penalty shootout semi-final thriller following a 3-3 draw, said: “I’d like to say I do know the secret – but all I can say is that I try and stress to the players that it’s a special competition.

“Because at the end of it, you’re going to play at a stadium that a lot of people would love to play at.

“Some teams take that on board, and others haven’t – but this team is extra special.

The league we’re in, it’s the equivalent of a Gillingham getting to the FA Cup final. It doesn’t happen – but the boys have made it happen.

“They’re the ones who’ve been out there and believed in what I’ve been telling them. It’s remarkable, absolutely remarkable.

“I can’t believe I’m back there [at Wembley] – I thought that 2007, with Stevenage, would be my last time as a manager.

“But in this game, if you give everything, there are some surprises around the corner. And that’s what these boys do – they give everything they’ve got and they thoroughly deserve to be walking out at Wembley.”

Hornchurch’s stunning run to the final has been nothing short of a miracle.

Stimson’s giant-killers, who play in the Pitching In Isthmian League Premier Division, battled back from behind three times at Meadow Lane to take the game to spot-kicks and book their place at Wembley.

Victories against higher-ranked King’s Lynn and Darlington preceded that clash, with Hornchurch’s run made all the more spectacular by their lack of competitive football for over six months.

Fans will flock to this Saturday’s showpiece as both Hornchurch and Hereford duel it out in front of 6,000 supporters – 3,000 for each side – in the capital.

Stimson can’t wait for the occasion and says a fifth Trophy triumph under the Arch would make 2021 a summer to savour.

The Urchins boss, who racked up over 100 combined appearances for Newcastle and Portsmouth in a successful playing career, added: “It’s been very special. We haven’t had many games because of Covid.

To come back from behind three times against Notts County shows there’s a lot of belief in the group – but also a lot of ability.

“And when you’ve got both of them, tied in with the characters we’ve got, we’ve always got a chance.

“The fans will be a huge boost. I’m sure whoever turns up on the day will make their voices heard and make the club proud.

“It would be great if I could go and win it again. Most importantly, I want the boys to go to there, play the way they’ve played and really enjoy the day.

“What would it mean? It would be history and the first time it’s happened to Hornchurch. No one can take that away from you.

“We know it’s going to be a tough ask because Hereford are a good side. But if we get our hands on it, we’ll enjoy it – I’m sure the local community will enjoy it and it will be a special summer.”

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