Great Wakering Rovers Reach FA Vase Final

FA Vase Wembley Final Date for Great Wakering Rovers FC!

Chairman David Patient Looks Forward to All-Essex Clash

Great Wakering Rovers Chairman, David Patient, has revealed their club shop have had to order extra scarves due to the demand caused by their upcoming appearance in the Isuzu FA Vase Final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 11th May!

Wakering face Romford in a historic all-Essex final, forming a part of Non-League Finals Day. Patient claims “the village has just come alive” after they secured their place recently with a penalty shootout victory over Worcester City, and he explained: “I’ve had my Bar Manager on this morning. Could we order another 100 scarves? Well, we only get an average of 150 watch us!”

Their road to the final began in late August with a 5-2 victory at local rivals Basildon Town. David continued: “There’s already three coaches, and I think they’re ordering a fourth one today. And there’s lots of people going by train, obviously, lots of people going by car. And, as of Friday, I believe it was something like 2,500, I think that someone quoted, tickets being sold out of our 7,000 allocation, which is a lot. And it’s growing and growing and growing.”

That First Qualifying Round victory against Basildon was followed by a 4-3 home win against Buckhurst Hill and victories against St Neots Town (away, on penalties after a 2-2 draw), Downham Town (home, 2-0), Fakenham Town (away, 3-0), Whitchurch Alport (away, 2-1) and Highworth Town (away, 3-2). In the Quarter-Finals, Rovers overcame Falmouth Town 2-0 at Burroughs Park, setting-up the two-legged semi-final with Worcester. 

They lost the first leg 1-0 in Worcester, but sealed their place at Wembley on Saturday 13th April with a 5-4 home penalty shootout triumph, following a 2-1 victory after extra time. Patient recalled: “Once we got through the First Qualifying Round, and the Second Qualifying Round, not being disrespectful to the two teams, but one of them was in our league and one was at Step 6. We thought we should, on paper, hopefully win those two.”

“But then, when you start getting St Neots away, who are a very, very strong side, then you start getting further on, and we beat St Neots in a penalty shootout. Then we made some very difficult away fixtures, to be truthful. But the boys are unbelievable. I’ve been around for 43 years in non-league football. I said to the manager that the boys are really up for this FA Vase. Marcus Bowers said, David, they honestly believe, the belief is there, we can go all the way.”

“Did I really believe that? No. Because we’re a small village club, with small resources… but let’s have a go! And each round went through, then we got through to the next one, the next one. Then, when you start getting to the Fourth, Fifth Round, you think this is a reality. And then you win a game at Highworth, which we did. It was a very difficult game, from the set-piece corner in the 93rd, 94th minute, and we won that one. We think, we’re on our way here!”

“And then you’ve got a very difficult game against Falmouth. They’re a very good side, with lovely people, but they were one of the favourites. And we come through that one. And then Worcester are unbeaten for 27 games or something. They were confident they’d won the game, I think, before they got off the coach, to be truthful. And we come through that on the penalty shootout.”

“Reality has struck. But, really, right from the early stages, the boys believed in it. And they still believe in it now. We were underdogs since the First and Second Qualifying Round. We’ve done eight ties to get to the final, and for eight of those ties, we were the underdogs. Everyone had written us off before we even kicked the ball.”

David’s belief grew as the competition progressed, right up until the final four, when Rovers were within touching distance of Wembley: “I missed the away game, unfortunately, because I was in hospital myself. But that was very tense. I think that game, actually, and the tactics that Marcus Bowers had on the day, to only lose 1-0 was very unlucky.”

“I’m told, without them being biased, we were unlucky on the day, not to come away with a 0-0, or even, you know, maybe a 1-1 draw there. Everyone thought at the time that they were going to probably win two, three, four-nil, which would have made the second leg very, very difficult and, basically, it could have been a non-event.”

“But 1-0 down at half time, as we called it, the boys believed, and we went back and scored fairly early on in the game to make it one-all on aggregate. And then we went 2-1 down, then we went 2-2, and then the penalty shootout. I mean… nerve-wracking. I went to that game - I wasn’t that well, actually. I was near the dressing room area, so I didn’t have to walk too far, because I didn’t want to be involved in the crowd too much, because I was just coming out of hospital.”

“And nervous was an understatement. The whole stadium… you can imagine it. But to get through is a dream come true. It was a very, very nerve-wracking penalty shootout, although we were still losing with about, I think, it was 16 or 17 minutes to go. I was thinking then, the dream is over. We’ve done ever so well. And I said that to the boys before the game. Marcus said, would you come in, now you’re back. Would you come in and have a chat with the boys?”

“Because every one of those lads messaged me - all 23 players messaged me - on WhatsApp whilst I was in hospital. That is the togetherness of the group. They are genuinely friends on and off the pitch, but they are looked after. We haven’t got big budgets, but we look after them. But they’ve done that. And that day, they actually believed right to the end that they were going to get there. And it was a dream come true. That was the belief in the group. They still believe it now.”

Follow the build-up to Great Wakering Rovers’ big day on this website. You can also interact with us via the @EssexCountyFA Twitter/X account, and by searching for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook.


Great Wakering Rovers FC Chairman, David Patient, speaks to

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