‘I told the Leiston chairman 12 years ago I would come back and prove him and everyone wrong!’ - Glenn Driver
- Credit: Archant
Leiston stand on the brink of even more history as they go in search of Step 2 football.
The Victory Road squad of 2017/18 have already achieved more than any Leiston side has ever, by reaching the Step 3 play-offs.
Tomorrow night they travel to Tooting & Mitcham, to face Dulwich Hamlet in the play-off semi-finals – the winners will face Hendon or Folkestone in Monday’s Bostik Premier League play-off final.
For manager Glenn Driver, who four years ago was coaching an U13s youth team having being released by Leiston eight years previous, it has been some journey – and a one he looks back at with pride.
“I was managing Leiston 12 years ago in the Eastern Counties League,” Driver said.
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“We did ok to start off with but the club went down a different route and brought in Jason Dozzell.
“That was fine, I saw it coming. But I remember my conversation with chairman Andy Crisp at the time.
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“I told him, ‘I would come back to Leiston one day and prove him and everyone wrong’. When Andy called me and I got the chance to come back to Leiston all those years later, to look after the reserves and U18s, I couldn’t wait.
“Me and Andy can rib each other about it now. But I was always determined.”
Driver and head coach Tony Kinsella have done well at a club that has been near, but never in, the Step 3 play-offs.
Dulwich Hamlet will prove tough opponents, even if they are no longer playing out of their Champion Hill ground – their ‘home’ for the past few months now is at Tooting.
“The Tooting pitch could be a leveller,” Driver said.
“I’ve just wanted Leiston to progress year on year and we have done so this year.
“We have got the opportunity to reach Conference South, which is a huge deal. We had 617 fans here on Saturday, that’s what we need every week. The people of Leiston to continue to support us. I must admit, last year I felt no pressure, but these last two months, I have felt loads, although I know I put alot on myself.
“Already this squad has created history. We are ready now to make more.”
Leiston chairman Andy Crisp said: “Our thought process every year is to aim to improve on the season before.
“The idea now is to enjoy the play-offs. If we get up to Step 2, we’ll look forward to that as well.
“Glenn said he wanted to get us into the play-offs and the club matched that ambition.
“The team’s done it, now let’s see where it takes us.”