FA Vase tie will be biggest match yet for Ollie Brown
PLAYING in two cup finals at Portman Road may have been “something special” for Ollie Brown, but today’s FA Vase quarter-final tie will be the biggest game of his fledgling football career.
The 21-year-old is expected to line-up at right-back for Hadleigh United against Tunbridge Wells in the last-eight tie at Culverdean.
Brown, who was in Ipswich Town’s Academy for around 18 months before he was released at the age of 16, joined the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division side at the start of the season.
He was signed from Division One side Whitton United, where he spent three-and-a-half seasons playing alongside brother Josh while his dad, ex-professional Ian Brown, was manager.
Brown was a member of the side that won the Suffolk Senior Cup in 2011 and 2012, defeating Lakenheath and Long Melford in successive finals.
But Brown, who admitted it was hard to leave his friends at Whitton but knew he needed to make the step up to further his career, has no doubt in his mind that today’s tie is the biggest match he will have played in so far.
He said: “At Portman Road, although there was a crowd of around 1,000 watching, I was playing in front of friends and people who know me and at the club I support.
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“Playing there with my brother and with my dad as manager made it something special – I don’t know if anyone else has achieved that?
“No disrespect to Lakeheath and Long Melford, but I do think this will be a bigger game because the opposition we will be playing against will be a better standard as they play at a higher level.
“The Vase is a national competition where you are playing against teams from Newcastle down to Guernsey, but I won’t be fazed by it because it is a big match and I am looking forward to the challenge.”
Brown feels Hadleigh are well equipped to rise to the occasion.
“Fingers crossed we can get through and make a name for ourselves and put Ipswich back on the map nationally,” he said.
“We have got a lot of good players in our team who have played at a higher level, like Danny Bloomfield, Neil Calver, Mark Goldfinch, Lee McGlone and Shane Wardley, and who have gone a long way in this competition and won league titles.
“We must take one game at a time, but hopefully we can get a good result and push on. If we do it will then be in the back of everyone’s minds, but we will still have the league to concentrate on.”