Cleethorpes Town Director of Football John McDermott became a Grimsby Town legend throughout his playing career and made over seven hundred appearances for the club.
Now, in his new role with the Owls, McDermott believes that the club are starting to step out of the Mariners’ shadows.
A big part of that move has come with the club’s progress in the Buildbase FA Vase and when they step out at Wembley on Non-League Finals Day.
And in doing so they will take another step in their progression according to Middlesbrough-born McDermott.
“The town is buzzing at the moment” he said.
“Grimsby Town have been at the new Wembley on a number of occasions but Cleethorpes Town have been in the shadows. That is understandable because they are a Football League club.
“Maybe now, now we are at Wembley, we are coming out of the shadows a little bit.
“The fanbase is up, the crowds for some games have been 1,200 to 1,300 and that is massive for us.
“Off-field and on-field the club is progressing and Wembley is another chance to take a big step forward for everyone”
A one-club man during his career, McDermott experienced a number of highs and lows with Grimsby.
He also played a part in one of the Mariners greatest ever seasons, as he played at Wembley twice in the space of five weeks.
The Blundell Park club lifted the Auto Windscreens Shield in April 1998 with a 2-1 win over AFC Bournemouth and returned weeks later to secure promotion with a 1-0 Second Division play-off final win against Northampton Town.
Now will return to the home of English football with Cleethorpes Town and hopes to continue his impressive record at Wembley.
“I’ve been there, I’ve played twice and won twice.
“It’s a great place to be involved and the new Wembley is one of the best stadiums in the world.
“It’s still a bit new for some of the lads but Marcus and myself have a bit of luck when it comes to finals. Hopefully that will continue”
Standing in their way in the Buildbase FA Vase Final is EBAC Northern League club South Shields.
The Mariners are looking to maintain the Northern League’s impressive record in the competition, with seven of the last eight winners coming from the league.
And in the opposing dugout are two joint-managers that are former winners of the competition.
Lee Picton was a two-time Vase winner as a player with Whitley Bay and Graham Fenton was manager of North Shields when they won the competition with a 2-1 win over Glossop North End in 2015.
In their ranks are the likes of former Sunderland midfielder Julio Arca, ex Luton Town star Jon Shaw and former Gateshead full back Craig Baxter.
Cleethorpes, by McDermott’s admission, are underdogs, but he still believes he can add to his two Wembley wins on Non-League Finals Day.
“We will enjoy it but don’t let anyone have you believe that we are just going to enjoy the day.
“We are going to go there looking to win. Wembley is a great place to play but it’s an awful place to lose a game of football. Having to climb those steps, knowing you’ve lost, it would be awful.
“We know people see us as underdogs, we know they are clear favourites and we know how other people see the game.
“Wembley is a big place, you can have all of the ability in the world but you have to cope with playing there and you have to be prepared to run your socks off for the whole game.
“We have young lads, we have lads with pace and we have lads that will run through brick walls for us. We will go there and give it a good go.
“They are used to playing with a no-fear approach. That is what has got us this far in the Vase
“It’s a great stage to play on but we will go there treating it as just another game of football”
Just another game of football in the career of John McDermott but he is still hoping for another memorable day at Wembley.
Tickets are still available for the Buildbase FA Vase and Buildbase FA Trophy Finals. If you want to be at Wembley for Non-League Finals Day click here to buy tickets.
This interview features in Non-League Daily’s ‘Road to Wembley Guide 2017’ and was produced in association with the Football Association and Buildbase.
Article: Mark Carruthers (@marknldaily)
Images: The FA/Reuters Media