Mark Stimson hoping to channel FA Trophy wins with Stevenage and Grays as Hornchurch get set for big day

Stevenage players celebrate with the FA Trophy after defeating Kidderminster in 2007

Mark Stimson has special memories of Stevenage's dramatic win over Kidderminster Harriers in the 2007 FA Trophy final. - Credit: SEAN DEMPSEY/PA

Mark Stimson says memories of lifting the FA Trophy at Wembley with Stevenage is driving him to reach another final with Hornchurch.

The former Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United and Portsmouth defender was the Boro boss back in 2007 when goals from Mitchell Cole, Craig Dobson and Steve Morison completed a remarkable second-half comeback and secured a 3-2 win over Kidderminster Harriers.

Mark Stimson and Stevenage chairman Phil Wallace.

Mark Stimson and Stevenage chairman Phil Wallace. - Credit: COMET LIBRARY

It was Stimson's third successive victory in the competition, the previous two as manager of Grays Athletic, and he is now looking at adding another chapter.

Isthmian League Premier Division Hornchurch face Notts County on Saturday in the semi-final and he admits victory with the Urchins would be the sweetest of them all. 

He said: "You need good players who get a massive buzz off the big games.

“Some can cope with it, some can’t, and I was fortunate enough to sign a few who could cope with it and delivered on the day.

“We had Steve Guppy, an England international in his day, and Steve Morison, who was phenomenal for us that season.

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“In the first half he didn’t perform as I knew he could. We had a few words and he went out and showed what he could do with the late winner. It was an amazing day.

Mark Stimson manager of Hornchurch

Mark Stimson will take his Hornchurch side to Notts County for the FA Trophy semi-final. - Credit: GEORGE PHILLIPOU/TGS PHOTO

“We’ve got similar characters here [at Hornchurch]. They won’t give in, no matter what, and they have belief.

“I’m fortunate – my dream has been made. I just hope the players can achieve what I was very fortunate to achieve and go to that fantastic stadium. I’ll be talking about it for the rest of my life.”

Just as Morison’s goal sent the Boro hordes into raptures in 2007, Hornchurch’s run has included similar moments of elation – albeit behind closed doors.

Their never-say-die spirit has been shown by last-minute giantkilling against Tonbridge Angels and Maidstone United and their progress is made more impressive by the fact they have not played a league game since November 3.

“I’m so proud of the players for what they’ve done so far,” Stimson said.

“For me personally, I’ve had no other job to go to so this run has been absolutely massive.

“I can’t put into words what it’s done for me mentally and it has been a huge help to have these games to look forward to.”

Ladbrokes, with the support of its owner Entain, has launched a multi-million pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports.

For more details see: https://entaingroup.com/sustainability/pitching-in/

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