Cray Valley boss Kevin Watson: We’ve brought players together that have achieved something measurable but it will be heartbreak for us if we go out and it will be heartbreak for Canterbury to go that far and not go the final leg as such

Sunday 10th March 2019

CRAY VALLEY (Paper Mills) manager Kevin Watson says it would be an incredible achievement to reach The Buildbase FA Vase Final at Wembley Stadium.

The Millers lock horns with their Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division rivals Canterbury City in a two-legged winner-takes-all showdown to see which Kent side will play Northwich Victoria or Chertsey Town at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 19 May 2019.

Cray Valley have home advantage for the first leg at Middle Park Avenue in Eltham next Sunday, 17 March, before the second-leg takes place at Salters Lane in Faversham on Saturday 23 March.

“It’s 50-50 who wins over the two legs. I don’t think anything will be decided in the first leg at all, regardless of the score. Maybe if someone has a 5-0 lead going into the second one maybe,” said Watson, whose side are now second in the league table just two points behind leaders Corinthian with nine league games remaining.

“Both teams will expect to be in the tie going into the second leg. I don’t feel there’s too much of a home advantage. We won’t set-up to get a certain result here and then a certain result there, we don’t actually do that anyway.  We go and try to win games whoever we play.

“All credit to Canterbury, I went to watch them beat Biggleswade in the Quarter-Finals and I’m really pleased for them.  They do some things right, they’re a really nice management team with honest players and a certainly different team to what we beat 2-0 in December.

“They’ve made some good, experienced signings. We want to play against good teams because that’s a test and measure to where we’re at.

“The team we played in the Quarter-Finals (Willand Rovers), I thought were excellent and they would be towards the top of our league.

“What we’ve done, we’ve brought players together that have achieved something measurable but it will be heartbreak for us if we go out and it will be heartbreak for Canterbury to go that far and not go the final leg as such.

“We’re not really thinking of it (Wembley) as an achievement as such yet. We’ll see where we get to. If we go out we might reflect and go we’ve done quite well. 

“That’s the only problem of playing Canterbury. I think it’s the heartbreak isn’t it. People were saying who do you want in the draw? I don’t know, I’ll tell you afterwards. If we win it was the right draw, if we don’t win, it was the wrong draw. 

“I think their manager (Ben Smith) will say the same thing, it’s 50-50. You can’t call it. It will be naïve for somebody to assume there’s a favourite, there’s not. We’ve both got to that stage, league form absolutely goes out of the window doesn’t it.”

When asked if guiding Cray Valley to the Semi-Finals of a national competition was an achievement in life, Watson, a school teacher at a school in Welling, said: “What in life or in football? As a manager or a player, I don’t know. I think the achievement is getting a group of players together that are achieving things, it’s not about an achievement for me.

“Whether people buy into this or not, I’ve said all along my life would be easier without football. I don’t desperately need it, I choose to do it. I’ve got no aspirations of managing much, much higher because I’ve got a job that I’m happy with, got a happy family life. It’s a release for me for my aspects of my life.  I feel sorry for my family at times because I’m out. I live in Brentwood in Essex and they’re very patient with that but the success side of it for me is creating an environment that brings success for other people.”

What would it mean to get to Wembley?  Oh by the way, losing a final at Wembley hurts, it really hurts!

“It will be incredible but you can’t think beyond, you can’t think of the past or the future, you’ve got to concentre on the here and now and try to get that right.

“It’s a dream that may never come. I don’t think I’m optimistic or pessimistic, I’m just realistic with my views.  It’s not worth thinking about because you haven’t got it until you’ve got it. If we win I will obviously think about it.”

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Cray Valley (Paper Mills)  v  Canterbury City
The Buildbase FA Vase Semi-Final First Leg
Sunday 17 March 2019
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Badgers Sports, Middle Park Avenue, Eltham, London SE9 5HT