DANNY SCOPES says Concord Rangers are taking inspiration from cup kings Marine, Chorley and Hornchurch as the countdown to their big Wembley final accelerates.
The National League South Beach Boys have been busy preparing for the long-awaited Buildbase FA Trophy final against Harrogate Town a week tomorrow.
Boss Scopes says the buildup has been a real test of his management skills as they navigate through a training camp on the back of no games since mid-February while they face a Harrogate Town in the groove of their own League Two campaign.
But belief they can pull off an upset comes from fellow Non-League sides who have been overcoming the odds over the past 12 months.
“We’ve looked back over the FA Cup and FA Trophy,” Scopes told The NLP. “We’ve looked at Chorley as an example and their run in the FA Cup to the fourth round, the teams they beat and where they were at the time and how they played.
“We’ve looked at Marine, who played Spurs, and what Hornchurch have done in reaching the FA Trophy final without playing league games. Going away to Notts County and winning the semi-final is an unbelievable achievement and full credit to them. We can take confidence in what they’ve done and their performances that it can be done.
“We’re under no illusions how difficult it is going to be, it is a real big task. It would be a big task in a normal season but when you’ve got nothing to lose – and you look at these other teams – then funny things can happen, can’t they?”
Player eligibility rules are a slight headache with only four new players since the semi-final win over Halesowen – where they were allowed six new players after the quarters – at the beginning of September allowed to take part.
Scopes says it only heightens the challenge but as long as his team show the spirit of Concord then he will be happy.
“It’s a little bit stacked against us but we’re not going to use that as an excuse,” Scopes said. “It magnifies the challenge ahead and does make it that David versus Goliath story with what we’ve had to put up with and Harrogate, through no fault of their own, are able to do. It just magnifies it – it’s not just a National League team versus a League Two team, the gap is stretched because of the consequences of the situation.
“I just hope we can give a true reflection of what Concord is about and I am sure we will – determination, grit, substance, spirit, that’s what we are about. Honest and hard-working. That’s the challenge for the final.
“It might not be the team that got us to the semi-final but I’d like to think that DNA will be on show on the pitch and I hope people get to see a real Concord performance.”
With Covid restrictions there will be no pre-Wembley visit and the early evening kick-off on Monday, May 3 means the players will stay at home before travelling to north London with a stop off on the way for a meeting and pre-match food.
“It’s a big day but routine is quite important and we want the boys to feel relaxed,” Scopes added. “That will be part of the challenge.
“There’s going to be emotions, excitement and nerves – I don’t think any footballer at any level would say they’re not nervous before big games and that’s going to be magnified with the nature of the stadium and the game ahead of us.
“But it’s up to us to go with cool heads, fire in the belly and make sure the boys are ready to give the best account of themselves and let people know what Concord Rangers are all about so they say, ‘That’s why they’ve had success and punched above their weight over the years’. That’s the message we’ve got to send to the people who are watching.”