Player speaks of ‘disbelief’ at Vase expulsion

BEN Miller has spoken for the first time of his “disbelief” at being named the guilty party for Woodbridge’s expulsion from the FA Vase last season.

Miller, who is the club’s longest-serving player, only travelled to Ely for the second round tie last November to help the club out by sitting on the bench even though he was not fully fit.

Equally ironically, Woodbridge return to Ely tomorrow in the Ridgeons League Premier Division on the eve of the anniversary, although Miller will not be in action as he is battling back from injury.

The 31-year-old defender recalled: “I missed the midweek game before the tie with flu, but said I would go and sit on the bench and play in an emergency.

“We were 1-0 up when I came on with ten minutes to go and they equalised, so the match went to extra time and I struggled through that.”

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However, Woodbridge’s glee at earning a replay back at Notcutts Park turned to despair when it emerged that they had fielded an ineligible player, and Miller was named as the guilty party.

“My reaction was one of disbelief. I have never really been booked that many times before – I think it was the first time I had picked up five bookings in a season and was therefore due to be disciplined.

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“As a player you don’t tend to keep a count of your bookings – I knew I had four or five – but at a club like this you expect someone to be on top of that really.”

The oversight arose due to a change in Suffolk County FA’s administration, whereby players are now automatically suspended 21 days after receiving their fifth booking, and the fact that Woodbridge had a change of secretary prior to the start of last season.

Miller, who played for Ipswich Wanderers Under-18s and was with the Humber Doucy Lane outfit for four years before joining Woodbridge in 2002 when Dave Hubbick was the manager, said: “I wouldn’t say I got stick, but there were a few jokes flying around the changing room!

“I am not sure anyone held it against me personally, but it was not nice to be at the centre of it all, even though I felt it was out of my hands.”

Woodbridge were subsequently found guilty and thrown out of the competition, denying the club a replay, prize money and possible progress in the prestigious competition.

“We were having a bad season as it was and a run in the FA Vase was our only chance of achieving anything positive out of the season. It was really disappointing and summed up our season really.”

A former captain of the club, Miller injured knee ligaments in Woodbridge’s opening Premier Division match of the season – the 9-3 defeat at CRC - and is still a few weeks away from full fitness.

“I would like to play for as long as I can. I was feeling good in pre-season and I still feel I can play for another three or four years, given the chance. I like Woodbridge as a club and have no reason to wish to leave,” he added.

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