Great Wakering Rovers FA Vase Final Preview

Isuzu FA Vase Final Preview: Great Wakering Rovers FC

From 100 Allotments to Wembley Stadium

Great Wakering Rovers Chairman, David Patient, claims their huge Isuzu FA Vase Final against Romford this Saturday (12:15pm kick-off) is a “fairy tale” for all involved with the club, and he’s taken the opportunity to look back at their history with pride.

Rovers face their local friends and rivals for a historic all-Essex clash in front of thousands of supporters on Non-League Finals Day at Wembley Stadium connected by EE, and Patient claims it’s a reward for all the volunteers who’ve helped build the club since their formation. “I think it’s pleasing for the committee and the people that are still around helping the club, because it started from 100 allotments in 1985,” he explained. “That’s what we were… allotments.”

“And from 1985 then to ‘92, they got the pitch three years later, ‘85, ‘88, I think, they got the pitch to play on local football. And then they went into intermediate football, and they got senior status in 1992. So, then they got to start building the stand, the dressing rooms, the clubhouse. And there’s people there now that were builders, electricians, etc, etc. Some of them are not on the committee anymore, but are still around the club. And they’re the people that it’s for.”

“They said to me, David, we can’t believe what’s happened. And I said, well, nor can I, but we’ve done it! We’re there! And, really, it’s a fairy tale, because look how we started. From allotments, a pitch, senior football in ‘92. We’ve been a yo-yo club. Financially, we’re not the biggest, because we won’t be, because we are a village club. Isthmian League, then we go Senior League, Isthmian League, Senior League.”

Patient paid tribute to Manager Marcus Bowers’ “underdogs” and recalled that it was never an expectation that the club would get this far in the competition: “To get to Wembley, you’ve heard the word ‘unbelievable’ many times on television from interviews from professional clubs, but it is unbelievable that a small village club like Great Wakering Rovers are at Wembley.”

“And to cap it, really, is to have an all-Essex final with our friends. And they are good friends of ours, Romford. We get on extremely well with Romford and the Chairman, Steve Gardner. And a lot of their players I know, because some of them, or quite a few of them, have been through the books at Wakering under my control.”

“So, whilst it’s very competitive on the day, it’s nice to have a club that you know so well. And, above all, for the Essex Senior League and Essex as a county, to have two teams out of, I don’t know, 600 clubs I think, enter the competition. It’s a fairy tale, or a dream come true, to be truthful.”

Rovers plan to enjoy the occasion to its fullest, and they have some special arrangements in place for the big day: “I’ve booked the Hilton Wembley Hotel. We’re going up on Friday, leaving about 12:30pm. We hope to have a tour of the stadium, which Dan Ellis, Secretary, is arranging with Wembley, with the staff. We get there, relax, stay the night there and then we will have about 150 yards from the hotel, which is right on Wembley anyway.”

“I picked the best hotel we could get. On the day, we’ve got to be there, I think, at about 10:00am in the morning. We’re treating it as a proper day, which it is, but we’re treating it as if we’re a pro club. I’ve given the best because they deserve the best.”

David acknowledges that this as big a milestone as any in his club’s history and, looking at the wider picture, he’s also proud that both the finalists are from Essex, which reflects very well on Essex football as a whole. He said: “We actually can’t believe it’s happening. Still, people are pinching themselves to think, we are going to Wembley. We’ve gone from relegation this time last year, from the Isthmian Division One North, in twelve months.”

“Relegation, doom and gloom - and it was really doom and gloom - to Wembley in twelve months. Now, who would have actually thought that? I think that makes it even more of a fairy tale, because we could have really slumped this year and not done very well in the league.”

“To have Romford there - two Essex sides - is good for the county and good for the Essex Senior League, and they’re friends of ours. We get on very, very well with Romford. They’re a very nice football club and, like us, we’ve had our ups and downs, and I’m so pleased for Romford, because they’ve had some ups and downs, as we all know, over the seasons, and have kept going.”

“So, they’ve obviously got people like we have, and for them to get to Wembley must be a dream come true as well. I’m delighted for those involved. I’m really pleased for Romford. Yeah, we want to win on the day but, whatever happens. We’ve got to Wembley, and no-one can take that away from any of their CVs. Those boys are going to have that shirt for the rest of their life, to say I played, or was in the squad, at Wembley.”

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

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