TAKING Buckland Athletic all the way to Wembley would rival boss Ellis Laight’s career highlight – even if that was scoring an FA Vase final winner at his spiritual home!
The 40-year-old, in his first season as a manager of the Western League side, had plenty of success as a player with Taunton Town and Bideford after starting his career as a professional at Torquay.
Laight knows a thing or two about Vase runs, helping Taunton go all the way in the first final held after the old Wembley was closed in 2001, against Berkhamsted.
This came after years of near misses at Villa Park – not that Laight was complaining!
“I would have loved to have played at Wembley but they were building the new one at the time so it was at Villa Park,” he said.
“A lot of people were disappointed but I’m originally from Birmingham and I’m a Villa fan. I used to stand on the Holte End when I was a kid so to score the winning goal in the Vase final there was special – you couldn’t have written a better script for me.
“Taking Buckland to Wembley would be a great achievement and definitely up there with my others. The amount of emotions I had in the last round at Hinckley was crazy so if we can go all the way, I don’t know what I’d be like!”
While promotion remains the priority, Laight knows the positives a Vase run can bring. Buckland, only formed in 1977, have come a long way in their brief history and travel to Bromsgrove Sporting on Sunday hoping to make it through to the semi-finals.
“I look back at the teams I was a part of that went far in the Vase and then I look at the team I’ve got now, there are a lot of similarities,” Laight, whose side haven’t lost since October 15, said.
“Buckland were a parks pitch team. It would be fantastic for our club to have a big semi-final to look forward to.”