I don’t know if people will agree with me but I thought we were the better side for long spells of the game. It’s very fine margins and they stuck their chances away, simple as that and maybe we haven’t, says Cray Valley captain Andy Walker

Sunday 19th May 2019

CRAY VALLEY (Paper Mills) captain Andy Walker says you can’t buy the experience of playing at Wembley Stadium.

The 37-year-old goalkeeper suffered a heartbreaking 3-1 extra-time defeat to Chertsey Town in The Buildbase FA Vase Final.

Classy Cray Valley congratulate Chertsey Town as they walk up the Wembley steps to collect their winners medals.
Photo: Alan Coomes

The Millers took the lead through Gavin Tomlin in the 36th minute but their lead lasted just 166 seconds when Chertsey Town’s right-back Sam Flegg headed against the post and volleyed in past Walker from the rebound.

Anthony Edgar came agonisingly close to winning the game for Kevin Watson’s men with the last kick of normal time but the ball crashed off the crossbar.

Chertsey took the lead on the stroke of half-time in extra-time through a penalty, converted by Jake Baxter, scoring his 43rd goal of the season, before Walker was beaten for a third time by a curling strike from Chertsey’s centre-half Quincy Rowe.

Chertsey Town manager Dave Anderson, 57, confirmed after the game that he has now retired from football management.

“It didn’t go the way we wanted it to and fair play to Dave and his boys, I really hope they enjoy themselves,” said Walker.

“Just being out there first and foremost. I think we gave them a good game and we could’ve nicked it, even before it went to extra-time but you’ve got to turn up and soak it in.”

Reflecting on Edgar’s bad luck with the last kick of normal time, Walker replied: “Fine margins. It always is fine margins but I go back there.  Listen, there are a few down boys in there but from speaking personally it didn’t quite go the way we wanted but WOW! This is what we do it for.  This sort of thing isn’t coming every day or even coming in every career, so the boys are very emotional.

“Listen, I think we pushed them, we pushed them. I don’t know if people will agree with me but I thought we were the better side for long spells of the game.  It’s very fine margins and they stuck their chances away, simple as that and maybe we haven’t.”

Cray Valley centre-half Cem Tumkaya was standing on the white line of the penalty area when he sent Lubomir Guentchev crashing down to the ground and Walker was beaten from the resulting penalty.

“Are we saying that is the correct decision? The penalty? Then ok, there you go. Either way it doesn’t matter. We’ve come out and we’ve had a good contest,” said Walker.

“The penalty, I think took it out of us a little bit because we had so much of the game, so much of the ball and that little piece of, whatever you want to call it, bad luck, whatever, took it out of us a little bit.

“But we kept fighting. They nicked the other one but at the moment I can’t finish any question with anything but WOW!

“What an experience. What a place. Everything from the people, the fans, friends and family being here, nice stadium and changing rooms.  The effort that everyone at our club has gone to, to make this a special day for us all, it’s just absolutely mind blowing!”

Walker now faces a challenge to pick up his team-mates going into the club’s debut Bostik South East Division campaign in August, having celebrated winning the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division by just a point on the final day of the season.

Walker said:  “We’re a little bit deflated. We’ve got the DJ in there and he’s got his work cut out, it’s like he’s playing at a funeral in there.

“But there’s no reason to be deflated and I think they’ll understand that very quickly, what we’ve achieved this season has only been surpassed by one team and they just beat us in the Vase final.”

Walker who has had a great career to far, said that playing at Wembley Stadium was his career highlight.

“I don’t want to bracket anything that I’ve done in my career because I’ve had a phenomenal career and I’ve met some phenomenal people but it’s Wembley Stadium. I don’t have to say anymore than that.”

Walker was full of praise for Watson, for giving everybody at the club an opportunity to play at the iconic Wembley Stadium.

“The gaffer, Kevin James, Tommy Osborne, Craig Gibson, Courtney Dobson, they’ll all play it down a little bit, everyone on the board, they’ll all play it down about the role they’ve played in.

“The gaffer especially in this competition has always said this is for the players. It’s nothing to do with him but it’s so much to do with him. We wouldn’t be here without him!

“There were some boys who were very disappointed to be on the bench today. As far as I’m aware, Kevin spoke to every single one of those and tried to give them explanations as to why he made that decision.

“I’ve played for a lot of managers and there’s not many who would do that. He’s so selfless, along with the rest of the coaching staff.

“This club is just fantastic and I’ve played for some good clubs but this is up there with the best of them!”

Visit Cray Valley’s website:  www.cray-valley.co.uk