Romford Reach FA Vase Final

Romford Reach FA Vase Final at Wembley Stadium!

All-Essex Showpiece Appeals to Chairman Steve Gardener

Romford Chairman, Steve Gardener, didn’t realise his club had booked their place at Wembley Stadium for the Isuzu FA Vase Final until he saw the post-shootout pitch invasion after their semi-final, he’s recalled ahead of their historic match against Great Wakering Rovers.

They meet Rovers in a huge all-Essex final at Wembley on Saturday 11th May, forming a part of Non-League Finals Day. In the final four, Romford took on Lincoln United in a two-legged encounter, starting off with a 2-2 home draw in the first match. Away from home, the game was goalless after extra time, leading to an extraordinary penalty shootout which Romford, eventually, won 10-9 to book their place at the national stadium.

Gardener explained: “But we weren’t really in touching distance of the final until the very end. We started the first game at home to Lincoln and we had a player sent off and were one-nil down to a penalty after about eight minutes. So, to come back and finish the game 2-2, was something we hadn’t hoped for. But that gave us hope going into the second game.”

“We fancied our chances, even though it was up at Lincoln. We just felt that we’d played well enough in the first game. The game against Lincoln, I think that they sort of had the upper hand in the first half, but we had the upper hand in the second half. So, when the referee blows the whistle and all 90 minutes have gone, you do have one foot into the final, but you also have one foot of being knocked out in the semi-final.”

“Our keeper, Jake [Anderson], saved the first two penalties from Lincoln. So, again, you think to yourself, right, that’s it, we’ve only got to get three more on-target and we’re through. But their ‘keeper made some really good saves and he saved the next two, so that made it level. And then we carried on through the whole team - everyone took a penalty, the goalkeepers included. And then it got to Jamie Hursit.”

This was almost more than Steve could take, as he continued: “And what I hadn’t realised, because I’d miscounted, is that if he’d put this one in, then we were through to Wembley. It was only when people were jumping up and down and cheering and on the pitch celebrating with the players that the realisation actually hit home that we were going to Wembley.”

It was back in November that Romford entered the competition, with a 2-0 home win against Crawley Green at Rookery Hill in the Second Round Proper. They went on to defeat Mildenhall Town (home, 3-0), Stanway Pegasus (home, 2-1) and Hilltop (away, 3-1) on their way to the Quarter-Finals, where they knocked North Greenford United out, 1-0 away.

He detailed: “I think, once we beat North Greenford, because we had a few players out for that game - we’d heard reports from Tilbury how strong they were - personally, I went there with low expectations. And then, of course, once we’d beaten them and played as well as we had, people were saying: oh look, we’re in the semi-final now, we’re in the semi-final! I think it was at that point that I thought, well, there’s two games, and anything can happen.”

Follow all the build-up to Romford’s huge occasion on our website. You can also interact with us via the @EssexCountyFA Twitter/X account, and by searching for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook.


Romford FC Chairman, Steve Gardener, speaks to

Related News

View All