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Home arrow Southern Counties East Football League News arrow Wembley is so close, you can almost touch it, says Tommy Sampson
Friday, 19 December 2014
Wembley is so close, you can almost touch it, says Tommy Sampson PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 08 February 2012
TOMMY SAMPSON says he has politely rejected a cheeky approach from Larkhall Athletic to provide inside scouting knowledge on his beloved Herne Bay ahead of Saturday’s scheduled FA Carlsberg Vase Last Sixteen clash at Winch’s Field.

Simon Halsey’s Herne Bay – the runaway Kent Hurlimann Football League leaders – welcome the Bath based Western League outfit as the Kent club bid to reach the quarter-finals on route to Wembley Stadium.

Sampson said today: “I’ve had the Larkhall people phone me, would you believe!  Someone gave them Tommy Sampson’s number.  I told them politely that my loyalties lie with a Kent side so I said I’m sorry, I can’t help them!

“There’s no way, hand on heart I could see Herne Bay go out of the competition, with my help.”

Sampson’s greatest moments of his managerial career was guiding Herne Bay to a unique treble in 1996 then guiding their Kent League rivals Deal Town to FA Vase Wembley glory in 2000.

“I’ve done a programme article for Saturday’s game, obviously if it takes place and I’ve said it’s so close you can almost touch it,” said Sampson.

“It just needs one big performance.  Try and get through to the Sixth Round.  If they think Saturday’s a big game, just wait until you get to the semi-finals!

“My heart still lies with Herne Bay.  I’m torn between Herne Bay, Dartford and Deal, obviously.  I had some great times at all three clubs.  Herne Bay’s chance now is fantastic.”

Halsey’s current Herne Bay side are on course to complete the treble – FA Vase, Kent League and Kent League Cup.

Sampson said: “Well, I’m sure my record is not the first thing on Simon’s mind.  I’m sure Wembley will come before that.  Treble or no treble, my treble was May 11th.  This year is fifteen years and that will live long in the memory of Herne Bay supporters.

“I was asked by a journalist recently about the present Herne Bay side and my team and I said I couldn’t possibly answer.   You have to ask the supporters who have been there fifteen years!

“I did great things at Herne Bay and I’m grateful for that and people who have taken the Herne Bay job since has had to live with my ghost to a certain extent but Simon’s come up trumps with the pressure this year, having just missed out on promotion last year.

“I’m sure Simon’s not worrying about outdoing me.  Records are there to be broken.  If I can offer anything to Simon would be my most sincere best wishes and the players.”

When asked how does Simon win it? Sampson replied, “Well, he certainly doesn’t take Larkhall lightly and pray for an away draw in the first leg of the semi-finals, so they know what they have to do at home. 

“It’s all down to nerve and bottle now.  Simon has got to make good decisions. He’s still trying to win the league, which is the same situation I found myself in.   You worry about people getting injured.  You get paranoid about it!

“I told all my players after we qualified for Wembley that no one would play every game between then and Wembley so when they did play they would have to play really, really well to alter my mind for the Wembley side.

“The most striking thing is consistency.  When I look back, the team that played for me in the Sixth Round was the same team that played at Wembley for me.  I didn’t realise that until someone pointed it out to me!

“If Simon can keep that consistency – he’s got to keep people fit and playing consistency well.  Once Wembley becomes a reality then it will be difficult to keep people’s minds on it. 

“Winning the League is the biggest priority for Simon.  You want to get to Wembley in full confidence – absolutely on top of the world!”

Sampson added: “The way of winning is you have to make sure you don’t take anything lightly and you do your best on the day.  Someone has to come up with something, whether it’s Dan (Eason) on goal coming up with a save or Byron (Walker) coming up with a last minute equaliser or something and that includes Simon as well.”

Herne Bay at Wembley in May 2012?

“I’m excited as anybody – I’m looking forward to a day at Wembley,” said Sampson.

“The biggest coincidence I can give you, May 13th, which is the day of the final, is my late father’s birthday so let’s hope it’s a double celebration on the day.”

Sampson urges the current crop of Herne Bay players to believe they can go all the way to Wembley glory.

“I won it but I’m grateful for it – but lots of homework, lots of preparation, lots of confidence and positive talking.  You don’t get anywhere thinking what you can’t do – you get there thinking what you’re capable of doing and that’s what I’ll give to the Herne Bay lads.

“Don’t waste your time thinking ‘perhaps we can’t!’.  You think ‘perhaps we can!’ That’s where the positive energy comes from.

“Herne Bay are a good side.  I’ve seen that three or four times I’ve seen them this season.  They’re very strong at the back and they’ve got some match-winners and they’ve got a good manager as well.  He’s a good guy. He knows what he’s doing!”

Sampson insists it’s a game for Herne Bay heroes  - and Roly Graham was his hero when Deal Town defeated Chippenham Town underneath the iconic Wembley Twin Towers back in May 2000.

He said: I’ve had an email from Roly Graham, who lives in Australia, this week and he sent his best wishes to the boys.  Roly has had the greatest moment in any non-league players life – that goal he scored at Wembley will not be forgotten by the 20,000 people who saw it!

“I think Kent will support Herne Bay if they get through.  I believe if Herne Bay get to Wembley there will be a 30,000 plus crowd. 

“All I know Tommy Sampson will be in the crowd and I’ll even try to blag my way into the dressing room!

“Someone’s go to come up trumps.  For me it was Roly Graham.  I’ve seen Herne Bay play and they’re more than capable.”

There will be a pitch inspection at 2:30pm on Friday afternoon.  If the game is postponed then it will be re-arranged for Saturday 18th February.

Visit Herne Bay’s website: www.hernebayfc.net

Herne Bay  v  Larkhall Athletic
The FA Carlsberg Vase Fifth Round
Saturday 11th February 2012
Kick Off 3:00pm
At Winch’s Field, Stanley Gardens, Herne Bay, Kent CT6 5SG

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 08 February 2012 )
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