South Shields star Jon Shaw has one thing to left to tick off his ‘football bucket list’ – an appearance at Wembley.
The Mariners defender is just one step away from playing at the famous stadium for the first time in his career going into today’s FA Vase semi-final second leg against Coleshill.
Shaw has enjoyed an good career at the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Luton Town and Gateshead but unlike many of his Shields team-mates, has never appeared at Wembley.
While Shields’ squad has a wealth of Wembley experience, with the likes of Liam Connell, Craig Baxter, Robert Briggs, Wayne Phillips and Gavin Cogdon having all played there, Shaw – along with the other most experienced player in the team, Julio Arca – still hasn’t featured at the national stadium.
It’s something he hopes to put right this afternoon when the Mariners take a 2-1 lead into the second leg.
“I’ve never played at Wembley before and I’ve said to a few friends that it’s the last tick on my football bucket list,” said Shaw, 33.
“I’ve had a good career, I feel, and I’ve enjoyed it and had some great highs, but I’ve never been and played at Wembley.
“I’ve been and watched a few times but that’s a big thing for me.
“There’s some real Wembley experience in that squad. There’s a few of us who may have played that little bit higher at times in our career but there’s some real valuable experience in this Vase run and players who have played in real tough games, tough finals, as well as the management team who have won it and that experience can only help people even like myself.”
A record crowd is expected to pack into Mariners Park today, smashing the 3,161 who witnessed a 6-1 demolition of Newport Pagnell in the last round.
And while that creates added pressure, Shaw says the team are better equipped to cope with that expectation than they were earlier in the season.
“We were disappointing the first couple of times we had big crowds but the last time we had one (against Newport Pagnell) I think everybody realised how good we are,” he added.
“We turned it on and came out on the right side of the line.
“That’s what we have to make sure we do today – and a packed house always helps.”