From zero to heroes for Trawler Boys?

ON THE brink of disaster 14 months ago, Lowestoft Town now stand on the brink of glory.The Trawler Boys entertain Whitley Bay at Crown Meadow on Saturday in the first leg of the FA Vase semi-final, and are just two games from Wembley.

ON THE brink of disaster 14 months ago, Lowestoft Town now stand on the brink of glory.

The Trawler Boys entertain Whitley Bay at Crown Meadow on Saturday in the first leg of the FA Vase semi-final, and are just two games from Wembley.

It is the biggest game in the club's 124-year history, yet it is not long since financial difficulties forced the Ridgeons League side perilously near closure.

Lowestoft's main sponsor Gary Bennett - who has helped to turn things around since coming on board in the past two years - has outlined his excitement about the big occasion.

“It's tremendous,” he said. “The taxman was two weeks from closing us down completely, and now this is the farthest we've ever got in a national competition. Everyone at the club has pulled together and got us where we are today.”

Anticipation for the game is feverish in the town, with a bumper crowd of more than 1,500 expected.

Most Read

“The club's already sold 800 tickets,” said Bennett. “And I think they'll be about 1,500 to 2,000 there. The club shop's doing the best it has ever done with shirts, hats and scarves sold, and obviously if we could get to Wembley, the knock-on effect for that would be fantastic.”

Ironically, the Vase run has come during the team's least impressive league campaign of recent times.

The 2005/06 Ridgeons League champions currently lie in 14th place in the Premier Division, and go into the Whitley Bay tie on the back of a 4-0 hammering at home to local rivals Kirkley & Pakefield.

But Bennett puts that down to concentrating on the road to Wembley.

“The management put out a fringe side,” he said.

“We couldn't risk injuries, and though we feel a bit guilty for not giving the community a true local derby, they'll think it's worth it if we get through to the final.

“Our fans are tremendous and if we can get them singing like they did at Concord in the last round, we can make that extra man.

“It'll give the players a massive lift, and they'll give everything because how many chances do you have to play at Wembley?”

With fellow Ridgeons side Needham Market also in the semi-finals, the sponsor feels proud that Lowestoft are helping to put the local area on the football map.

He said: “It shows how strong the league is, and it would be great if we could both get to the final.

“But for me, just getting this far is great and makes it feel worthwhile investing in a local club.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter