It's nice to captain your home-town club to Wembley, everybody dreams about it, says Bromley's Jack Holland
BROMLEY captain Jack Holland has dedicated their FA Trophy run to Wembley to club president and former chairman Glyn Beverly, who sadly passed away in December.
Neil Smith’s heroes booked their place in The Buildbase Trophy Final and a date with Vanarama National League North side Brackley Town on Sunday 20 May after beating their league rivals Gateshead 4-2 on aggregate.
The Ravens came away with a battling 1-1 draw at the International Stadium yesterday as their Northern tour came to a proud climax.
“After that performance there, I can honestly say to a man I honestly love them,” said Holland, who has been voted the most loved player in Bromley’s 125-year history.
“We knew the job we had to come here, we knew they’d come at us, every man, it’s unbelievable!”
Bromley took the lead inside the opening five minutes, Smith giving the goal to Brandon Hanlan, despite it going down as a Fraser Kerr own-goal.
Holland said: “The last couple of weeks we haven’t started so well, it’s got to us. We knew we had to come out and what a start we had.”
Gateshead equalised with 69 minutes on the clock through a blockbuster from left wing-back Scott Barrow, which flew into the top right-hand corner from 35-yards.
Holland added: “Do you know what, as a defender, I can say now, we’ve finished, they didn’t break us down. I don’t think they broke us down to get anything and it took something long range. Fair play to him, it was a great strike!
“We had to see it out and there was a lot of pressure but that’s unbelievable!
Bromley’s amateur greats of 1949 defeated Romford 1-0 to win The FA Amateur Cup at Wembley Stadium, which was the third time that they picked up the silverware but their only previous visit to play on Wembley’s iconic hallowed turf.
“Listen, it ain’t about me, obviously it’s nice, captain of your home town club get to Wembley. Everybody dreams about it,” said central defender Holland.
“Bev (Glyn Beverly) passed away earlier on in the season and we promised him we’d get to Wembley. I know he’ll be looking down on us today, he got us through that. That was for him. It’s so emotional in there now, that was for him. We dedicate that to him.”
Including the trip to Wembley Stadium, Bromley have travelled 3,190 miles in this FA Trophy campaign.
Holland said: “We’ve gone everywhere in the North. I don’t think there’s anywhere I haven’t seen in the North and credit to the fans. Let me tell you, we must have some of the best fans in this league. They come week in week out every game. What a voice today and to give them a day out at Wembley, it means the world.
“That was the dream at the start of the season. We knew we had what it takes to get there. Let’s just enjoy the day now, we’ve worked hard for it, let’s enjoy the day.”
Bromley goalkeeper David Gregory says it’s a dream come true to play at Wembley Stadium in his first season at the club.
“I just can’t believe it! Special moment for everyone involved,” said the Biggin Hill based former Crystal Palace and Cambridge United stopper.
“The second half was definitely nerve wracking for everybody involved but we stuck together and just saw it through.
“The boys were unbelievable! Credit to Gateshead they scored an unbelievable goal and really put the pressure on from minute one and I’m just a little speechless and very proud of everyone.”
Once Bromley drew first blood, it was all about keeping Gateshead at bay for as long as possible.
“Perfect start, it was nice to get the early goal and then it was all about can we get there? Can we do all we can to make sure we clear everything, sit in when we need to and just get on with it,” said Gregory.
You won’t see many goals like the one that Barrow struck to make it a nervy 25 minutes for the Ravens faithful as Bromley were either on the brink of greatness or heartbreak.
Gregory said: “It was a fantastic goal. I was beaten all end up. I’m not going to hide away from that, it was a fantastic finish. He’s hit it very well. What can I say about the goal. It was a fantastic goal, fair play to him. I take my hat off.”
Smith admitted “it was the longest 10 minutes of my life,” and Gregory tried to look at the clock facing towards the home fans in the corner of the pitch to his left.
“I was looking over at the reflection of the stopwatch in the corner just to see it was 82 or 85. I was counting every second!”
The final whistle brought scenes of celebration and tears from the travelling contingent as reality sunk in that Bromley are heading to Wembley Stadium for the second time at the end of their 125h anniversary season.
“It means everything, it’s the best English stadium, the hallowed turf. It’s fantastic in my first year properly playing as well, it’s a dream come true,” said Gregory.
“All that travelling and all those journeys, it brings the players and the fans closer together and hopefully it will be written down in folklore. I’m so pleased for everyone involved, for all the fans to come, they deserve that!
“It’s a monumental opportunity for the club, a monumental opportunity for every player in the squad, just brilliant! I’m just so proud of everyone.”
Attention now turns back to the Vanarama National League and a trip to bottom six side Hartlepool United on Tuesday night.
Bromley are in tenth-place in the table with 55 points in the bag and have 10 games of the season to play as they bid to close the nine point gap on seventh-placed Dover Athletic to keep their promotion dream alive.
Gregory said: “Back to the grind, another push for promotion. That we’re all focused on and all striving towards and trying to reach the play-offs and maybe push further than that if we can.
“We’re looking up, we’re not looking down. We’re pretty clear of everyone behind us. It’s just how far can we go? We can go all the way! It’s just about doing it and sticking together.”
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Hartlepool United v Bromley
Vanarama National League
Tuesday 27 March 2018
Kick Off 7:45pm
at Victoria Park, Clarence Road, Hartlepool, County Durham TS24 8BZ