Torquay at Wembley
Lee and Rowe at Wembley (Casey Levie)
Lee relishing Trophy success
By Laura Joint
Torquay United chief executive Colin Lee paid a visit to Wembley Stadium ahead of the Gulls' FA Carlsberg Trophy final against Ebbsfleet. And he revealed the club had gone all out to reach the final this season.
Torquay United's first season in 80 years as a non-league club might end with them achieving an amazing double.
They could have been forgiven for concentrating all their efforts on an immediate return to the Football League, following their relegation to the Blue Square Premier League at the end of the 2006-7 season.
But right from the start of the 2007-8 campaign, manager Paul Buckle made the FA Carlsberg Trophy a priority.
While some clubs regarded the competition as a distraction, Torquay saw it as an opportunity to play at the new Wembley.
United face Kent outfit Ebbsfleet in the Trophy final on 10 May 2008. Ahead of the big day, officials from both the Blue Square Premier clubs were invited to Wembley Stadium to take a look around.
For Colin Lee, the visit has whetted the appetite for the final: "As a player, Wembley is a place you dream of playing at, and some people say they freeze.
"But how can you freeze on a playing surface like that? It's immaculate.
Lee Phillips scored v Crawley in Round 4 (P Levie)
"When you walk into the stadium today and it's empty, you get a totally different impression of its sheer size."
Lee and Torquay chairman Alex Rowe got to hold the Trophy, which United have set their sights on all season.
"At the start of the season, Paul Buckle made a point of telling the players he wanted to go as far as possible in The FA Trophy," revealed Lee.
"Some clubs in recent seasons may have preferred to concentrate on getting back into The Football League, but to win a final at Wembley, live on television, would be a massive boost for the club and the town.
"Make no mistake, we want to win it.
"I went to last season's FA Cup Final and this season's League Cup with some of the other former Chelsea players, but it'll be fantastic to see the Torquay fans filling the place with our club colours."
Torquay hope to have 15,000 fans cheering them on at Wembley, and Ebbsfleet reckon they'll have 20,000 supporters.
Ebbsfleet have been the surprise package of the competition, beating Burton and Aldershot en route to the final.
Manager Liam Daish said his players can't wait for the big day: "They'll be a mix of nerves, adrenaline and excitement, but you expect that on stage as big as this.
"We want to do well in every competition that we enter and it's fantastic that we've got this far."
Honours are even between the two sides this season - Ebbsfleet won 2-1 at home in October, and Torquay won 3-1 at Plainmoor in February.
As well as collecting the Trophy, the winners also pick up £25,000 prize money.
last updated: 21/04/2008 at 14:15