It could be a family day out at Wembley in more ways than one for those attached to Thatcham Town, as they hold a 1-0 lead going into the second leg of the FA Vase semi-final against 1874 Northwich.

By Ken Gaunt

And manager Danny Robinson has lauded the Bailey family for the progress they are making. Eric Bailey is chairman, wife Sylvia is treasurer, while son Stuart is the club’s director of football.

In his programme notes, Robinson said: “The chairman Eric is not your typical ‘suit and tie’ chairman. With him it is hands down toilets, up ladders and making sure the club functions.”

“Without him the club would not be where it is now. He won’t enjoy today as he will be worrying about 101 things, but if I have as much passion as him during my retirement I will be a happy man!

“Sylvia is the nicest person I have ever met in football, is the glue that keeps everyone together and always has a smile. Stuart is awesome and the best I have ever worked with.

“He is a massive reason why we are doing so well on the pitch as he supports us no matter what.”

Meanwhile, Thatcham goalkeeper Chris Rackley believes his side will have to step up a gear if they are to secure a place in the final. Rackley’s opposite number Greg Hall was the busiest of the two shot-stoppers and made a string of fine saves to frustrate the home side.

Hall, 32, is hoping to make it to Wembley for the second time in three years, as he was between the posts in 2015 when Glossop North End lost 2-1 to North Shields in the Vase final. A penalty early in the game from striker Ross Cook was enough to separate the sides in front of 1,134 fans who braved blizzard conditions and a biting cold wind at Waterside Park.

The result stretched the Hellenic League title-chasers’ unbeaten run to 27 games, 25 of them victories, stretching back to October. Rackley, however, knows they cannot afford to relax on Saturday in the deciding match in front of a partisan crowd urging on the North West Counties League team.

He said: “A lead and a clean sheet was exactly what we wanted, especially in those conditions. There is still plenty to play for, though.

“We will need to turn it up even more. It is safe to say I will not kick that badly ever again.”

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