Stanley hopes to lower Town's colours

DEDICATED Danny Stanley will be miles better off than usual when he turns out for Leiston against Ipswich Town tonight in the Suffolk Premier Cup final.

By Derek Davis

DEDICATED Danny Stanley will be miles better off than usual when he turns out for Leiston against Ipswich Town tonight in the Suffolk Premier Cup final.

The stylish midfielder usually makes the 200-mile round trip from his Southend home just to play home games for Leiston, so playing in the final at Portman Road is an extra bonus for him.

The former Maldon Town and Braintree Town player is enjoying an Indian summer in his career after almost drifting out of the game completely.

He was playing for Essex side White Ensign, with Paul Benson who recently helped Dagenham & Redbridge win promotion to the Football League, when he was spotted by old team-mate Glen Driver.

Stanley said: “I had fallen out of love with the game really but I met Glen and he got my enthusiasm back and I went to play for him at Leiston.

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“I have been here two full years now and I really enjoy it. Apart from Jason (Dozzell) I'm by far the oldest player but the camaraderie in the squad is top class and a big reason why we are in the final.

“Most of the lads are around 20-21 and like to play good football and in a way that has worked against us in the league where it is a bit more direct. But if we go up against another footballing team we can annihilate them, although we know Ipswich might be a different situation.

“The good thing is the team are maturing together and we will only get better.”

Although he has played against the first teams of Ipswich Town, in Russell Tanner's testimonial, and West Ham, Stanley admits this is the biggest game of his career.

He won promotion with Maldon and later Braintree Town, both under manager Ben Embery, but said: “We got to the cup final last year at Portman Road but this will be bigger because it is against Ipswich Town.

“Winning promotion was special but in terms of importance this is the biggest single game for me.”

Stanley, who turned 30 earlier this month, was on the books at Southend United as a youngster and knows his chances of being a professional have gone but he has seen enough players in non-league get a late chance to know it is not too late for some of his younger contemporaries.

He said: “We have seen Ian Miller get his chance and I have seen it before with Neil Harris when I was at Maldon and then Paul Benson at White Ensign, so it happens and the standard of the non-league is higher with more money so clubs do look lower.”

Leiston, who Town played as part of the club's centenary celebrations towards the end of last season, will use the home dressing room at Portman Road and their squad includes former Town trainees Stuart Boardley, Liam Manning and Blair Hammond.

Gerard Nash, who had to stop playing professionally due to injuries, now plays for Leiston but is not eligible for tonight's cup final.

Boardley left Ipswich for a spell with Torquay before returning and joined Leiston from Long Melford, while Hammond was part of the 2005 FA Youth Cup winning squad.

Leiston squad: Moyes, Sparkes, Ryland, Jennings, Saker, Boardley, Manning, Stanley, Hammond, McGlone, Dennett, Eagle, Roach, Dan George, Keeble, Trotter.

Referee: Mr A Sannerude (Carlton Colville).

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