FA Trophy: Help get the Rocks to Wembley

Fans Adam Goldring and Sarah Warwick sell tickets for Saturday's first leg
Fans Adam Goldring and Sarah Warwick sell tickets for Saturday's first leg
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We’re one tie from Wembley – and we need your help to try to get there.

That’s the Rocks’ message to the people of Bognor as the club get ready for one of the biggest games in their history this Saturday.

They play host to National League premier-division side Grimsby Town in the first leg of the FA Trophy semi-final.

The second leg is at Grimsby a week later and the winners of the tie will be off to Wembley for the final on Sunday, May 22.

A crowd up between 2,500 and 3,000 is expected at Bognor for the first leg and hundreds of Rocks fans are set to make the long trip north for the second game.

The Rocks had a major boost on Thursday morning when they secured a new loan deal for young Brighton striker Chike Kandi, who scored seven goals in 12 games in a spell at Nyewood Lane earlier in the season, including a couple of key FA Trophy strikes.

I just hope the team perform again and some of the new fans we have picked up along the way continue to come back for other games.

Jack Pearce

He is on a youth loan until the end of the season, which effectively means the clubs will share him. But he will be in the squad for Saturday.

Rocks boss Jamie Howell said: “We’re delighted to get him back on loan. We’ve only got three strikers in the squad so his arrival will gie us a bit more impetus in that area.”

Bognor secretary Simon Cook said: “Chike is a key member of Brighton’s Academy side and the terms of his youth loan mean that he can continue to play for Brighton in any matches other than first team fixtures.

“He will therefore not necessarily be available for all Bognor’s matches in the run in to the end of the season, but nevertheless is an extremely valuable addition to the squad.

“We are extremely grateful to Brighton for their continued assistance this season.”

With Saturday in focus, Bognor bosses hope the run to the semi-finals has already done much to put the town and the club on the map and perhaps secure the chance the Rocks could play at a higher level over time.

If they can get past Grimsby and secure that visit to the national stadium, things will go up several more notches.

Planning for Saturday’s big game is going well, with plenty of safety and stewarding procedures in place to make sure the ground and area can cope with the sort of numbers it does not normally see.

Rocks general manager Jack Pearce said the visit of Torquay in the quarter-finals had turned out to be a good practice run for this even-bigger occasion.

“All we asked before the Torquay game was that plenty of local people came out to support the team and that everyone enjoyed themselves and behaved themselves,” said Pearce.

“As it turned out that was exactly what happened, so in many ways we just need to repeat that appeal.

“It’ll be a much bigger than we are used to handling but everything is in place.

“It would be nice if we could get 3,000 but we may not quite get that many. We expect at least 600 fans from Grimsby and they’ll use the Sports Club car park and be accommodated in that end of the ground.

“I just hope the team perform again and some of the new fans we have picked up along the way continue to come back for other games.”

Bognor have already earned £35,950 in prize money by getting through seven rounds of the Trophy, while the semi-final winners will scoop another £16,000.

That’s in addition to £15,000 Bognor earned in the FA Cup.

Fans are urged to get to Nyewood Lane early on Saturday. Gates open at 1.15pm ahead of the 3pm start.

The supporters’ club are running coaches to the second leg at Grimsby but need to confirm numbers. Anyone interested should email brtfcsupportersclub@talktalk.net or visit the club shop on Saturday.

STEVE BONE

Don’t miss your giant Come on you Rocks poster - in the centre of the Bognor Observer, out now

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