FA Vase: Mulbarton boss wants to reunite with fans at Wembley

Mulbarton Wanderers first team managers, from left, Danny Self and Ben Thompson. Photo: Jack Owen

Mulbarton Wanderers first team managers, from left, Danny Self and Ben Thompson will be looking to mastermind an FA Vase victory this weekend. Photo: Jack Owen - Credit: Archant

The fact no fans will be allowed to watch Mulbarton’s FA Vase fourth round clash against Hanworth Villa on Saturday will act as an extra incentive for the south Norfolk side to advance in the competition. 

That’s the verdict of joint manager Ben Thompson, who hopes his side can go the distance in the competition to allow supporters to watch the Thurlow Nunn First Division outfit once again this campaign. 

The FA has said that no spectators are allowed to watch any football matches or training sessions at the moment and Thompson admits it’s a pity his side won’t be able to feel the full support of the village and beyond for their last 32 clash. 

However, with Mulbarton just four steps away from Wembley, Thompson would love for a grand day out for the club in the final. 

“It’s a shame – it would have been huge for the village (to have supporters there),” he said. “We would have got a load of people down but you have to look at the bigger picture. 

“We were asking these questions in December and then we found ourselves in another wave of coronavirus.  

“Let’s hope we can go all the way because we’d much rather get a load of fans in to watch us at Wembley than in the last 32 – that's the goal.” 

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Hanworth Villa stand between Mulbarton and the last 16 and Thompson admits his side will be the underdogs against the Combined Counties League Premier Division side. 

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“We know a bit about them and we know a couple of teams in their league,” added Thompson. “We’re expecting a physical challenge and they are technically good. Any team in that league needs to be quite streetwise. 

“That’s why we picked the friendlies that we have. Hanworth and Mulbarton are the top scorers in the competition so it’s probably got a 0-0, straight to penalties, written all over it! 

“I think we will see goals – we are certainly the underdogs going into the game with the league difference between us. 

“We’ve got to have that underdog mentality and let’s try and do it for the community and look forward to a home tie in the next round again.” 

Mulbarton’s preparations haven’t been without incident with forward Adam Plumstead suffering a serious injury in the friendly against Thetford Town. Plumstead suffered an open fracture of his tibia and fibia but the football community has rallied around the player. Both Mulbarton’s and Thetford’s players gave up their match fees in support of the player along with the match officials with more than £1,500 raised. 

“It was an unbelievable gesture,” said Thompson. “Adam himself has been completely overwhelmed by all the support. To raise that much money and for Thetford to contribute their wages and the referees to contribute their fees, on behalf of Adam and the club we’d like to thank everybody. It’s been an incredible response and shows that the football family is really tight. 

“On the pitch you want to beat each other but off the pitch it has showed that real togetherness that everyone loves about grassroots. 

“Adam has had a successful operation and he will be home in the next 24 hours. He is already asking the question of when we can get the physios around his house to start that process. He’s really focused.” 

Thompson admitted he and joint manager Danny Self have got some difficult decisions to make ahead of Saturday. 

“We’ve had three really competitive friendlies so we’re in a good position,” he added. “Selfy and I have never really discussed the team outside of 24 hours before kick-off. You never know what could come to the surface in grassroots but I’d imagine other than Plummy we’ve got a fully fit squad. 

“We’ve got a great bunch of lads to choose from.” 

Mulbarton aren’t the only Norfolk side in Vase action with Fakenham also involved as they host Hellenic League Premier Division side, Binfield.