ANY PLAYER mentioning Wembley will automatically get a £10 fine, warns Bromsgrove Sporting boss Paul Smith ahead of their FA vase quarter-final clash against Buckland Athletic.
In arguably the biggest game of the club’s history, Sporting are set to play in-front of a 3,000 sell-out crowd at the Victoria Ground against their Toolsation Western League visitors on Sunday (3pm KO).
After beating Western League leaders Bristol Manor Farm 2-1 in the last 16 of the Vase at the end of January, the Rouslers know what it’s going to take to beat an Athletic side which has won 14 consecutive games in all competitions.
And with a dream trip to Wembley just two rounds away, Smith has urged his players to focus on the task at hand to avoid getting hit in the pocket.
“To put it simply, any player which mentions Wembley gets a £10 fine,” he said.
“Yes it would be unbelievable to get there but it’s a conversation we are avoiding at the moment as there’s still plenty of football to be played.
“My focus, as well as the players’, is on Sunday’s game and we are all looking forward to it.
“I’m hoping and praying we put on a good performance because it could be a special weekend.
“If we perform at our maximum like we did against Bristol Manor Farm I have told the players we have an unbelievable chance of winning the game.
“Chances like this, playing in a Vase quarter-final, do not come along very often in a short playing career so it’s important my squad grasps this chance but most importantly performs on the day.”
The Sporting boss has done plenty of homework on the Newton Abbott-based visitors after making the long six-hour round trip to watch Athletic in action last week.
But Smith is still undecided over his starting XI for Sunday’s game despite using Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Cadbury Athletic in Midland League Division One as a chance for players to stake their claim for a shirt.
Goalkeeper Chris Jay is in-line for a start after recovering from an injury he picked up in the 1-1 draw against Racing Club Warwick at the end of December last year while star striker Jason Cowley faces a late fitness taste after coming off against Cadbury following a knock to the ankle.
“I have got eight of the 11 sorted as well as the formation I’m going with but there’s four players fighting over the remaining places,” Smith said.
“Chris Jay has been put through an intense training session which we hoped he would come through and he has so we’re delighted to welcome him back.
“We are still unsure over Jason at the moment as he did not train on Tuesday because his ankle was still sore.
“Jason’s performances have been exceptional since he joined so we are going to give him has much time as he needs to recover.”
Sporting are set to break their record crowd of 1,487 which witnessed the 2-1 victory over Manor Farm last month as the 3,000 allocation has been reportedly sold out.
The club’s application to double their capacity from 1,500 was accepted by Worcestershire County Council’s safety advisory group earlier this month.
“It’s just unbelievable,” said Smith.
“I have never managed in front of so many fans and I have been knee deep in selling and arranging the tickets.
“We have phenomenal support in Bromsgrove but it’s took some time for us to get to that level.
“I just hope those that turn out on Sunday keep coming back.”
Regardless of the result, Smith said the players have done not only him but the town of Bromsgrove proud.
“We are top of the league, in the final of the Worcestershire Senior Urn and in the quarter-finals of the Smedley Crooke and Vase – it’s well above our expectations,” he added.
“We are playing some really good stuff right now and that’s testament to the players.
“It’s brilliant but like I have said to the players, our season could fall flat on its face quite quickly so it’s important we continue to work hard.
“We do have to enjoy Sunday but we have to remain focused.”
Sporting then travel to Barnt Green Spartak on Wednesday in the Smedley Crooke Memorial Charity Cup quarter-finals (7.45pm KO).
**For those who cannot make the game follow Craig Gibbons’ live updates on Twitter from 2.30pm by going to www.twitter.com/BromStandard.