By Ken Gaunt
It is the biggest game in the 59-year history of United Services Portsmouth, but for skipper Tom Jeffes, it will be a normal Saturday morning.
The 34-year-old central defender has no plans to change his routine ahead of the historic FA Vase semi-final home tie against Binfield, with the winners going to Wembley .
“I have never been that superstitious, but over the last few Saturdays, I have tried to remember what I did the previous week, “ he said.
“It means a boring Friday night in, taking my little son on to his football in Portsmouth on Saturday morning, then having a bit of quiet time.
“We did think about getting the lads together and having a coffee before the match. As good an idea as it is, we do not normally do that, so why break with routine?
“You sort of pinch yourself really that you are in the semi-finals of a national competition. People say it is a fairytale, maybe it will be when Saturday comes around.
“We are a little Step 6 club, who do not pay anyone, and I could not be prouder of the boys. We have performed really well against some very good sides.
“The players do not know how special this is, which in a way, might be a good thing. It is one leg only this season, so who knows what might happen? Let’s be ourselves.”
Six of the seven teams United Services have beaten in this remarkable journey play higher up the pyramid, with Flackwell Heath the latest to exit last Saturday.
Now only Bracknell-based Binfield, who defeated Long Eaton 5-0 away in the quarter-final, stand between manager Glenn Turnbull’s unsung heroes and a trip to the national stadium.
The Wessex League Division One club’s brilliant run has captured the imagination of the County football community, who will be rooting for them at the Victory Stadium to take the final step.
“Hampshire FA congratulate US Portsmouth FC on reaching the semi-finals of the FA Vase this season,” said chief executive Neil Cassar. “This is a tremendous achievement by the team and backroom staff.”
“They will have the whole football community in Hampshire behind them on Saturday with Wembley now in touching distance.”
Sholing were the last Hampshire club – and playing in the Wessex League – to win the Vase, in 2014, when they defeated West Auckland at Wembley with Marvin McClean scoring the winner.