Nantwich Town v FC Halifax Town: Nicky Wroe dreaming of Wembley return with the Shaymen

FC Halifax Town's Nicky Wroe. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.
FC Halifax Town's Nicky Wroe. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.
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SEVEN years may have passed since Nicky Wroe trod the Wembley turf but the memories remain strong.

As is to be expected, considering the midfielder’s sole visit to the rebuilt national stadium ended in triumph as Torquay United prevailed in the Conference play-off final to seal a Football League return.

Today, Wroe and his FC Halifax Town team-mates are hoping to take a big step towards England’s footballing mecca when the Yorkshire club takes on Nantwich Town in the first leg of the FA Trophy semi-finals.

“Playing at Wembley was brilliant,” the 30-year-old told The Yorkshire Post ahead of today’s first leg tie at the Weaver Stadium. “Of course, winning makes it feel like that. I can’t imagine it is a nice place to lose, especially in a play-off final.

“But the day itself was something you never forget. There were a lot more Cambridge fans there (for the 2009 final), as you would expect. But the Torquay supporters were brilliant.

“Me playing at Wembley has come up in conversations with the Halifax lads. Not really about this game, more that, as players, we talk about our careers when together in the dressing room. It would be great to go back.”

If Halifax can see off Nantwich, who sit two divisions below Jim Harvey’s men, over two legs, a May 22 date with either Grimsby Town or Bognor will await along with the opportunity to become the second Yorkshire club in as many seasons to lift the Trophy.

North Ferriby United beat Wrexham in last year’s showpiece and Wroe admits to having taken a keen interest in the Villagers’ success.

“I was in the same youth team at Barnsley as Nathan Jarman,” revealed the 30-year-old. “I haven’t spoken to him for a while but I do follow him on Twitter. So, I followed all his updates last year and was really impressed when they won at Wembley. It must have been a great day for everyone at the club.”

If Halifax are to emulate North Ferriby in reaching Wembley, Northern Premier League side Nantwich must be overcome. It will not be easy, the Dabbers already having beaten one Yorkshire side from a higher division in Bradford Park Avenue along with Dover Athletic of the National League Premier.

“We will have to be at our best in both legs,” said Wroe, who signed permanently for the Shaymen in January after a successful trial. “I’d expect the first game to be quite tight, that often happens when two legs are being played. No-one wants to give anything away.

“The big thing is, we will have to be on it. There are no easy games, not at this level or stage of a competition like the FA Trophy. This is knockout football, where anything can happen.”

That Halifax are even dreaming about a possible Wembley trip is remarkable in itself. Less than four months ago, the only place the Shaymen appeared to be heading was Conference North after a truly wretched few weeks under Darren Kelly.

Six defeats from the Irishman’s seven league games in charge plus 28 goals conceded left Town rock bottom only for Jim Harvey, promoted from assistant manager following Kelly’s departure, to revive the season in spectacular fashion.

“I have never known a season like this,” added Wroe. “But, even when we were losing heavily, there were signs that it could all change. Jim has done a magnificent job, though we all know there is still a long way to go if we are to reach safety. Doing well in the Trophy can only help, as winning breeds confidence. We saw from the bad run how importance confidence is.”