Morpeth Town’s FA Vase veteran Chris Swailes says Ipswich Town is best club he has played for

Chris Swailes in his Ipswich Town days

Chris Swailes in his Ipswich Town days

Defender Chris Swailes could become a record-breaker on Sunday, if he is confirmed to be the oldest player to feature in a Wembley final, and the 45-year-old owes an awful lot to Ipswich Town.

The veteran centre-half lines up for Morpeth Town against Hereford in the FA Vase final, prior to another former Blues star, Tommy Miller, representing Halifax, against Grimsby, in the FA Trophy.

Swailes has had a successful career, predominantly in the lower leagues, since starting out as a youth player at Portman Road in 1989, but did return to Suffolk in 1995, playing for Town in the Premier League.

After leaving the Blues in 1997 in search of first-team football, Swailes represented the likes of Bury, Doncaster, Rotherham and Hamilton Academicals with distinction, before joining Gateshead, in 2009.

Swailes spoke fondly of his time at Ipswich Town as he travelled down to Wembley yesterday.

“It was an absolute great grounding for me at Ipswich and it was the best club I ever played for,” he said.

“I wish I had stayed in the area and I can’t speak highly enough of the place, right from starting with Bobby Ferguson, through to John Lyall and the likes of Peter Trevivian, Charlie Woods, Bryan Klug, George Burley and Dale Roberts,

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“People talk about playing the ‘Ipswich way’ but that stood me in good stead.”

After playing 42 games for Town, Swailes sought pastures new in 1997 and ended up at Bury.

“I initiated the move as I’d had a taste of first-team football with Ipswich when we got to the play-offs. I think we lost to Sheffield United in the semi-finals.”

Swailes paid particular tribute to coaches Klug and Woods, adding: “They could make you cry one day then make you feel on cloud nine the next.

“They could treat you like kings but in the end, you sank or swam. It was great development for me.”

As for today’s game, Swailes, who is targeting a third Vase success, said: “I don’t know if I am going to be the oldest player, a lot of people have suggested I will be and it would be brilliant if I was.

“I got a taste of Wembley on Tuesday when we did the media day and the surface is that good you could play in your slippers.

“It’s a one-off game, we have done well to get this far, and anything can happen on the day.”

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