Mark Stimson looking to lead hard-up Hornchurch to FA Trophy final payday

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

For clubs such as Hornchurch, the financial implications of the pandemic could have threatened their very existence.

Which is why their big day out at Wembley tomorrow, when they meet Hereford in the FA Trophy Final, could not have been better timed.

Should Hornchurch, from the Isthmian League Premier Division, beat National League North Hereford tomorrow, the £100,000-plus income will provide an invaluable boost.

With the League suspended last November — and the associated loss of vital revenue — it has been a dark time for non-League clubs.

For Hornchurch, who last played a competitive match on March 27, when they beat Notts County in the semi-finals, their impressive Trophy run has provided a lifeline.

Manager Mark Stimson is an FA Trophy specialist, having won it once as a player, plus three times as a manager.

Getty Images
Getty Images

As well as Notts County, Hornchurch have also beaten Darlington, another club with Football League pedigree, on their way to Wembley, an achievement which former Spurs full-back Stimson is justly proud.

“We’ve beaten big clubs to get to Wembley and now we face another in Hereford,” he said.

“I’ve had some time to reflect since we won the semi-final and it is truly an amazing achievement.

“Our League programme was suspended in November, so keeping the players fit has been a challenge. I’ve had a lot of our squad for eight years, so we’re a tight group. They’re like my adopted sons.

“If I asked them to jump 10 times they’d do 11 and that’s hard to get in non-League football, because players move from club to club, maybe for an extra £50 a week.

“The club have also been fantastic, backing the players financially, and a lot of what we’ve earned out of the competition has gone back to the players in wages.

“Before the quarter-final at Darlington, the club opened a fund-raising page and we raised enough money to stay the night before the Darlington game and again for the semi-final at Notts County.

“Our nearest Premier League club, West Ham, have been outstanding. Their co-chairman, David Sullivan, made a generous donation to our fund and they let us use their training ground.

“The only disappointment we’ve had on this run is we haven’t been able to share it with our fans, but 3,000 of them will be at Wembley.”

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