Marty hopes team get Vase fever

MARTY Thorpe played in the final of the FA Vase at Wembley Stadium.So the Woodbridge Town assistant manager knows the magic of a competition that sends the Ridgeons League Premier Division side to Spartan South Midlands League Leverstock Green tomorrow.

By Elvin King

MARTY Thorpe played in the final of the FA Vase at Wembley Stadium.

So the Woodbridge Town assistant manager knows the magic of a competition that sends the Ridgeons League Premier Division side to Spartan South Midlands League Leverstock Green tomorrow.

He admits he still has to convince the current young crop of Woodbridge players what the Carlsberg Vase is all about.

“They have never experienced the later stages so they don't know how big a buzz the Vase can be,” said Thorpe, who was part of the Sudbury Town side that drew 1-1 in front of the biggest ever Vase attendance of 27,000 at Wembley stadium in 1989.

“This season the final could be back at Wembley, and Ridgeons League Premier Division sides have a realistic chance of getting there.

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“To follow in the footsteps of so many famous players and walk out on to the pitch from the famous Wembley tunnel is one of the many memories of the Vase I will never forget.”

Sudbury went on to lose the replay 3-0 at Peterborough, while Thorpe took part in two losing Vase semi-finals for the west Suffolk club. Sudbury lost to Colne Dynamoes in 1988 and Guiseley in 1992.

His Vase experiences did not end there, as one of Suffolk's most respected players over the last two decades was a member of the Woodbridge side that lost to Ramsgate 2-1 in the fifth round of the Vase in 2000.

“That was a very different Woodbridge side to the one now,” explained Thorpe.

“We then had a team full of experienced players, and lost out to a poor Ramsgate side because Paul Smith and Carl David were not fully fit after injury and illness.”

The previous season, manager David Hubbick led Woodbridge to the quarter-finals of the Vase where they lost 2-0 at home to Thame.

Thorpe is now enjoying life as assistant to former Ipswich Town star Micky Stockwell at Notcutt's Park, with the pair working with a squad that has an average age of just 19.

“We are tied in with the SETEC scheme at Copleston School and have a host of promising young players. They have a lot to learn and perhaps we could do with a couple of older heads.

“But they are all making progress and if we can hang on to the boys the future will be bright.”

Joe Francis has been scoring goals for fun this season and has become the Woodbridge trump card, with Thorpe saying:

“Joe has done well, and we have a number of other lads who are also catching the eye.”

Stockwell has selection problems with key defender Daniel Ebanks undergoing an operation this week on a fractured cheek bone and both Paul Berry and Tom Trevivian out with hamstring problems.

Dangerous front man Allicion Blake is also a doubt after taking a knock in last Saturday's impressive league win at Stanway.

Leverstock watched Woodbridge lose in midweek to Leiston in the Club Colours Suffolk Premier Cup, while Woodbridge gained information on their opponents from Stanway who Leverstock beat in an earlier round.

There is a financial gain to be had from winning tomorrow with second round winners pocketing £1,000 from the Football Association.

Needham begin a big few days - they entertain Ipswich Town on Wednesday in the Premier Cup - with a tough Vase tie at fellow Ridgeons League championship rivals Wroxham, while Ipswich Wanderers travel to north London to play Spartan South Midlands League Brimsdown Rovers with Rene Swann looking to improve on his impressive tally of 21 goals for the season.

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