He came within inches of realising a childhood dream in the FA Trophy Final and now Tommy Wright and his Nuneaton Town side are hoping to secure a return to Wembley in the same competition.
Wright was a Darlington player when the Quakers made it to the FA Trophy Final in 2011.
Mansfield Town were the opposition and the two sides played out a tense, nervy affair. Ninety minutes couldn’t separate the two sides, despite the best efforts of Wright and his team mates, with the Quakers striking the woodwork on three separate occasions.
A fourth was to follow, as that childhood dream escaped Wright by a matter of millimetres.
In the last minute of extra time the Quakers were on the attack.
A long throw in from Aaron Brown was flicked on by captain Ian Miller.
In a crowded area, Wright was alert to Miller’s header, beating Stags keeper Alan Marriott to the ball. Under heavy pressure, Wright could only loop a header over Marriott and as he did, time seemed to stop.
The ball came down, seemingly destined for the ball of the Stags net.
Agonisingly for Wright, it struck the crossbar, looping back into play before his strike partner, Chris Senior, headed the ball into the net despite the best attempts of Marriott.
Darlington had won the FA Trophy and the memory of the day still drives Wright on six years later.
He revealed “I think about it most days to be honest.
“You have some dreams when you are a kid, you set yourself goals.
“I wanted to play for Leicester City; which I did. I wanted to represent England at some level; which I did.
“And I wanted to play and score at Wembley. Obviously I played for Darlo in the Trophy Final but I am still not sure how I didn’t score.
“I hit the woodwork on a couple of occasions and then there was the winner, which I played a part in.
“But what a day, it was one of the best of my career”
Standing in Nuneaton Town’s way is York City and in the Minstermen dugout is the man that led them to their FA Trophy Final win over Newport County in 2012; Gary Mills.
Since his return to the Bootham Crescent hotseat was confirmed in late October, Mills has been hard at work with the Minstermen squad.
A number of players have departed the club, with Mills adding a number of players he has worked with in the past.
That move has produced results, and although City still sit bottom of the Vanarama National League table, they have lost only one of their last eight games in all competitions.
Mills will be eyeing his own return to Wembley and Wright revealed that he is a keen admirer of the work done by the former European Cup winner.
“Gary is a good manager and he has won things as a player and a manager” said Wright.
“As a kid I used to stand of the terraces at Filbert Street and I remember him playing for Leicester in the late-eighties.
“He has done well since he has gone back to York and he has brought in some good players.
“Jon Parkin is a natural leader up front and is always difficult to play against.
“I played with Omari Morgan-Smith at Luton Town, so I know all that he is about.
“They are in good form and it is a big test for us”
Nuneaton were in good form of their own, up until their recent defeat at promotion-chasing Salford City.
Following the 3-0 defeat at FC United of Manchester in late November, Wright’s side went on a remarkable run of nine games unbeaten.
Incredibly, eight of those games produced wins, including a 6-1 FA Trophy humbling of Guiseley that set up their tie against York City.
Their last two games have produced negative results, with a 4-0 defeat against Salford quickly followed by an away loss at Kidderminster Harriers by the same scoreline.
Despite those two heavy defeats, Wright has seen his side move away from the National League North relegation zone, as they currently sit ten points clear of the drop zone.
However, he was defiant ahead of their Minstermen showdown and is keen to show the Nuneaton faithful that his side have worked hard to right the wrongs of those defeats.
“If you had offered me a run of nine games unbeaten after that defeat at FC United of Manchester I would have snapped your hand off.
“People look at it and they see two 4-0 defeats against Salford and Kidderminster Harriers and it looks bad on paper.
“But I was there, we looked ok, but the goals changed the game. We didn’t deserve to be beaten by four goals and I think anyone at either game could see that.
“We gave Harriers a good game, we deserved more.
“But this week we have worked hard, we have worked on a few things that we needed to improve on and hopefully that will show on Saturday”.
The Boro are hopeful that a big crowd will be there to witness the FA Trophy tie against York.
The club have taken the decision to reduce the admission fee for the game.
Wright is hopeful that the increased support will give his side a boost, as he paid tribute to the Boro faithful.
“We always wanted a home tie” admitted Wright.
“We said it would be York City before the draw so there were a few smiles when we came out with them.
“We need the fans on Saturday and they have been brilliant for us.
“I think it’s about keeping the season alive. Realistically we aren’t going up this season and I don’t think we are going to get relegated.
“So it’s a chance to go in, as the underdog, against a strong side, it’s the perfect game for us.
“We have a responsibility to give the supporters a reason to get behind us, to give them something to cheer.
“There will be sceptics, but we have to work hard to prove them wrong”
If they do then maybe Tommy Wright can take a step closer to realising a boyhood dream once again, without a crossbar getting in the way.
Interview: Mark Carruthers (@marknldaily)
Images: Reuters Media (Action Images) / Simon Kimber