An ex-Hereford manager who knows exactly how to lift a trophy at Wembley is the former Bulls boss John Sillett.
Now 84, Sillett guided Coventry City to a 3-2 triumph over Tottenham Hotspur in the 1987 FA Cup Final, which many still consider to be the most entertaining final ever played. However, the focus of his attention is now concentrated on Hereford in their FA Trophy Final against Hornchurch.
Sillett led the Bulls to the Third Division championship back in 1976, but he still feels a close bond with Hereford. He says he will be on the edge of his seat cheering on the Bulls when they walk out at Wembley.
“I think it’s brilliant for Hereford. I still follow the club very closely and I wish them all the luck in the world, and I’m sure they will get their reward at Wembley by playing the right way.
“I really enjoyed my time at Edgar Street and got on well with the supporters. I liked the way the fans accepted me and the way we played. My aim was to get the team playing attractively from the moment I arrived at the club, and it developed nicely from there.
“Looking ahead to Hereford in the FA Trophy Final, I feel the day before the game will be very important. Prior to the Coventry against Spurs match in 1987 I took the squad to a very good hotel the night before the final as I wanted to make sure we got all the boys together. There were no outside distractions. We all dined together, and had a few drinks afterwards, before we all had an early night.
“I wanted everyone to be as relaxed as possible, and so we played cards on the coach like we normally did on the way to any away game, as we travelled to Wembley Stadium. The players should be focused about the task in hand well before then. They shouldn’t need to ask any tactical questions by that time, and for the coaching staff it becomes all about motivation and concentration. The players will be in good spirits and should be ready to chase every ball, and do everything necessary to help each other out, as the game develops.
“I’d be looking for the players to go out and perform naturally without any negative thoughts. The idea is that if they play to their strengths they will win. The pitch is a marvellous one which should help, but one tip I would suggest is that each player picks out a reference point within the stadium. That means if they’re turning to shoot, or indeed defend, they instantly know what angle is necessary.
“Fitness is so important at Wembley. The pitch can tire you out very quickly, but at the same time if you judge your pace and retain possession it means the opposition will be constantly chasing you. If you don’t give silly passes or free-kicks away you will gain the upper-hand. As I used to say to my defenders, “keep it solid and sound”.
“The Hereford fans inside Wembley should feel as though they are playing themselves. They’ve got to encourage the team to chase every ball, make every tackle, keep possession and carry on playing positively.
“I wish the club all the luck in the world, and all the best to the supporters who could make all the difference on the day.
John Sillett was talking to Keith Hall for the Road to Wembley Souvenir Magazine
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