The Buildbase FA Trophy has this season thrown up its usual mix of drama, heroes and talking points and as we approach the final, The Bootiful game has spoken with Bromley FC Player Coach, who’s side has combined a successful league season with progress in the FA’s prestigious competition, writes Gary Langley.
Former Millwall Captain, Alan Dunne who is a veteran of a few trips to the national stadium and counts over 400 senior appearances for Millwall over 23 years as well as a spell with Leyton Orient and is now player coach of Bromley FC. He kindly took time out after training to speak about the challenge ahead and the joy of taking his side to Wembley.
“I’m really enjoying my time here, it’s a club that is going places, it is five minutes from my house and at 35 to be enjoying football and progressing with a club on my doorstep it is something that you cannot fault. The player-coaching side of things has taken a bit of time to adjust to as one minute you are a team mate and the next you are having to pull a player to one side and point a few things out so you have to be many things to many people but that is what coaching is all about and as a player coach there is the demand there to keep your own player performance strong enough to justify a place in the team. ”
“As a senior player who has come in with league experience and so on, the players and especially the younger ones look up to you to show them the way a bit. The Club and the playing staff have bought into it, it is a club that wants to get into the football league and has backed that up by getting the right equipment in and getting things up to scratch to enable it to do so when the time comes. The trip to Wembley is great for the club also and we are not going there just to make up the numbers.
“We have sold over 12,500+ tickets already and invested a lot of time and travelling in the competition so I have to say I think we deserve it. The football we have played has been good value for our appearance here and we are going to enjoy the day.
“It has been a crazy season for us, like clubs up and down the pyramid we have been hit with a few postponements and cup clashes and we have had to make a choice on the type of sides that we have put out. We play every game to win but we have had to use the whole of the squad and we have perhaps dropped a few points in the league that we could on a normal run of fixtures have picked up and as a result we are just outside of the play offs. We are still having a good season but our focus has been on getting to Wembley when we got past a certain point in that competition and it has paid off. A top ten league finish and a Wembley Final will be progress for us this season especially having finished tenth last season.
“Being a coach you see the squad develop and that has been evident this season as we have pushed on, I do a lot of work with the back four as well as the wider squad and I work closely with the Manager to ensure we get what we need from those players and there is still plenty more we can do with the squad as well as building on this campaign. I got my UEFA A’ Licence at 33 and I am relishing this role and further down the line I will be looking to take a full management role on somewhere but at the moment this is ideal for me. When you look around we are bringing players on and also doing that in ways off the field too by bringing that bit of professionalism in. This is our first season full-time, last season we were training 2-3 days a week but the club are committed to pushing on and progressing and you see that as we have brought in advanced training and physical conditioning methods as well as GPS tracking and the hi-tec gadgets that modern professional clubs use.”
— Bromley FC (@bromleyfc) March 24, 2018
“There is a buzz about the place at the moment and with the final approaching its Wembley this Wembley that. You pull into the stadium and everything is advertising the Wembley trip and the whole town are right behind us. There is the whole build up just really putting the club on the Map and encouraging everyone to get behind us, we are not going to get too carried away with the emotion though, we want to go there and win the trophy, many clubs can measure success in trophies and whilst at Bromley we are working on the bigger picture of gaining league status, winning trophies like this is very much in our remit and planning as well.
“I’ve been beaten twice at Wembley in my career and it is not a great place to be when that happens, we want the lads to go and enjoy it but we will be preparing them to go out and try and win but we will also have their backs if it doesn’t come off.
“Next season we want to hit the ground running, we will be in our third season at this level and this experience will help us with that, you look around at Clubs like Wrexham who have been at this level for seven years and Tranmere who are struggling to get out of it with big budgets, we don’t have those types of budgets but we are knocking on the door of the Football League already only a couple of seasons in so we need to press on and keep closing the gaps on all levels between us and those clubs. We go there at the moment as equals on the park and we are looking to continue our development and next season we will be aiming to go to some of these grounds as strong challengers as standard, and who knows, if things go right FA Trophy holders?”
A huge thank you to Alan Dunne for taking time out to talk to us.