Wroxham ready to protect Wembley heroes

Paddy DavittWroxham boss David Batch has adopted a 'handle with care' approach ahead of the Yachtmen's high-profile FA Vase Wembley date on May 9.Batch was at the national stadium yesterday along with skipper Graham Challen, centre back Martin McNeil and Wroxham officials for a pre-final press call alongside holders Whitley Bay.Paddy Davitt

Wroxham boss David Batch has adopted a 'handle with care' approach ahead of the Yachtmen's high-profile FA Vase Wembley date on May 9.

Batch was at the national stadium yesterday along with skipper Graham Challen, centre back Martin McNeil and Wroxham officials for a pre-final press call alongside holders Whitley Bay.

The Wroxham chief's immediate priority is protecting his over worked players on the eve of today's latest Ridgeons League game at Ely City.

Challen is targeting a comeback from a hamstring injury before next weekend's league finale, whilst Gary Gilmore and Gareth Simpson stepped up their fitness bids during the midweek win over Wivenhoe.


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Danny Self required hospital treatment for a gashed leg in that 2-1 league victory but Batch has confirmed the 26-year-old will be fit for Wembley selection.

'He's badly bruised and has a cut but nothing more,' said Batch. 'He's fine, he'll be alright for the final and he'll get plenty of treatment. The fella got booked for it although you could argue some referees would have sent him off. He has put his foot through the ball and kicked the other lad's studs at full pelt. It was a bit of a naughty tackle but it was inevitable something like this was going to happen ahead of Wembley.

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'We've got four games left in a week and it has to be mix and match. When you have a player out for a week now with our workload they are missing four games. The flip side, though, is we need the likes of Gilmore and Simpson, Owen Paynter, Josh (Carus) and Graham to play again. I don't think we'll play our starting eleven before the final because I have to get players fit enough again to be considered. If I don't, then they won't be ready to be selected.'

Batch's major injury worry is wide player Matty Daniels but Gilmore appears to have finally recovered from his niggling hamstring problems.

'He's undergone intensive treatment with a chap called Andrew Goddard who is a phenomenal chiropractor,' said Batch. 'We've subsequently discovered that his hamstrings and thighs have been taking on up to 60% of the workload of his back - so literally for the last few years his legs have been working one and half times harder.

'It's no wonder he has been struggling, to be honest, this season. But on Thursday he looked a completely different player. He looked like he could run and go past people and if you speak to him he feels that in himself. It's almost like signing a new player for us.'

Batch admitted his Wembley visit yesterday had brought home the enormity of Wroxham's achievement in reaching the final.

'I've got a season ticket for Wembley and I've been here numerous times but standing at pitchside is a whole different experience,' he said. 'It's made me glad that we've scheduled a tour of the stadium with the players on the Friday before the game because I don't want the lads to feel what I have for the past couple of hours - staring up into the gods and thinking this is unbelievable.

'It has really hit home and it's a different sensation. Just being in the dressing rooms you get a nervous excitement, not nerves in a bad way, but a giggly feeling almost. It's something the players will have so they can enjoy it on the Friday, have the jokes and the laughs, and then on matchday 48 hours later hopefully that level of nervous energy will have gone.'

Batch is content to cast his side in the role of underdogs against the current holders.

'They'll come here as favourites and rightly so because they won it last year and I think they were in the semi final the year before,' he said. 'It's their trophy and fair play to them - until someone wins it off them, and we're the first club with that opportunity, it doesn't make a difference.

'We beat the second favourites on the way to getting to the final, we're here on merit, and if we prepare right then we can win this game. There seems to be a misconception that either you enjoy it or you win it, but I don't believe the two are mutually exclusive, and I've said that to the players. We can do both. We'll enjoy the experience of preparing for the biggest match of our lives and we'll enjoy trying to win a massive football match. It doesn't matter what the bookies or all those fans in the stadium think. It doesn't even matter what they think. It matters what we think.'

Tickets for Wroxham's FA Vase final against Whitley Bay at Wembley on Sunday, May 9 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 Wembley travel information, visit wroxhamfc.com or call Trafford Park on 01603 783538.

Dolphins Autos (01603 400300) and Skyplane Travel in Norwich (01603 424010) plan to run coaches to the game and match tickets can also be purchased from those outlets.

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