Players and fans of Walsall Wood Football Club were today dreaming of Wembley after flying to Guernsey for the biggest match in the club’s history.
A group of more than 50 players, staff and supporters flew to the Channel Islands last night for Wood’s FA Vase quarter-final replay tonight.
But the official party, whose trip has been paid for by Guernsey FC, arrived without 70-year-old club secretary Ivor Osborne – who was making the marathon journey by land and sea because he is terrified of flying.
The team and fans boarded a coach from the club’s grounds at Oak Park yesterday afternoon to catch a flight, while around a dozen more fans were flying from Birmingham Airport today.
And scores more will be packing into Walsall Wood’s Oak Park ground tonight, where they will watch the game at Guernsey’s Footes Lane live on a big screen.
Nigel Watkins, Walsall Wood’s commercial director, said: “It’s the biggest game in our history. It puts us on the footballing map.”
Walsall Wood’s manager Mark Swann said Mr Osborne’s plight had become a source of much hilarity within the club. The secretary and his wife Anita are turning their trip into a weekend away and will not return to the Black Country until Monday.
The manager joked: “He told me he was the only bloke in the RAF who didn’t like flying. It’s like BA Baracus in the A-Team – they would have to knock him out before he flew anywhere.”
The 40-year-old, a sales manager for a suspended ceilings firm, added: “Some of our players don’t even know where Guernsey is – I’ll be looking behind me on the plane and they wil be asking ‘are we nearly there yet?’”
FA rules mean home club Guernsey will foot the club’s travel bill, but many fans are funding their own £320 trips.