ADAM BOLDER is no stranger to the big occasion. Anyone whose Premier League debut was an away win at Old Trafford simply can not be.
But tomorrow’s FA Trophy final will, regardless of the big matches he has played in during a career that began in 1999, still carry special resonance for the Hull-born midfielder.
“It is going to be great,” said the 34-year-old to The Yorkshire Post ahead of taking on Wrexham. “I have been fortunate enough to play at Wembley before in my career.
“I was at Millwall when we got beat in the (2009 League One) play-off final. I have also played at a lot of big grounds in my career. But this is my home town and to go to a place like Wembley with Ferriby is going to be fantastic.”
Bolder, whose CV also includes scoring a brace in a Steel City derby when sporting Wednesday’s colours, started his career at Hull City.
It was, however, the 2001 move to Derby County, then of the Premier League, that really gave the young midfielder his big break.
The Rams were locked in a relegation fight when Bolder arrived shortly before the transfer deadline and it took manager Jim Smith a few weeks to give the new signing his debut.
The wait, though, proved worthwhile as Malcolm Christie scored to clinch a rare victory for Derby over Manchester United.
A second senior outing followed on the final day of the season against Ipswich Town and by the time he left Pride Park in early 2007 he had racked up more than 180 appearances.
Eighteen months followed at Queens Park Rangers, during which time he enjoyed a brief spell at Hillsborough that included the derby double that fans on the blue and white side of Sheffield still remember fondly.
Millwall, Bradford City and Burton Albion complete the roster of Football League clubs for a midfielder who dropped into non-League with Harrogate Town before joining North Ferriby last summer.
“The lads do give me a bit of stick,” says Bolder with a smile when speaking at the Conference North side’s Church Road home after the squad had lined up for a commemorative photo amid much laughter as the banter between the players flew back and forth. “They love winding me up about where I have played and the clubs I have played for in my career. But I like that. It is good banter. The key to how we have done, to me, is the tight-knit spirit we have. You saw that just now when we had the photo taken.
“Whenever I have been at a club and there has good camaraderie between the lads, it usually means that club has a chance of doing well.
“It makes a massive difference. And it is a massive feature of this club. There are no little cliques, everyone gets on with everyone and the banter flies non-stop.
“That is what gets you results in games and drives you forward. Just look at the semi-final against Bath and what we had to overcome.
“There were massive turning points along the way, none more so than in the penalty shoot-out. But we stuck together and that is the mark of a good squad.
“I don’t just mean the lads on the field. I mean everyone, and I am delighted for all the lads and the club that we are in the final.”
Bolder is alone in the Ferriby squad in having already played at Wembley. The memory, however, is one that continues to frustrate the veteran midfielder due to how Millwall’s hopes of promotion to the Championship were dashed in dramatic fashion by a late winner for Scunthorpe United.
Almost 60,000 fans were inside Wembley that day, the majority of them supporting the Lions, and Bolder intends using that disappointment as inspiration this time around with the Villagers.
“I know people are saying how great it is to get there,” he added. “But, while it has been an achievement to get to the final, if we don’t win the Trophy then it is still going to be a bit of a sour taste for us all.
“We have to finish it off by winning. I have been there and lost there so know what it is like.
“That is why I will be driving the players on and trying to make sure we can win. The losers’ dressing room is no place to be, even at Wembley.
“I look back on it now and the atmosphere, the occasion and so on. They were all great. But the thing I most remember is the final whistle going and us having been beaten.
“There is nothing worse. You don’t know what to do. I don’t think I have ever left a ground quicker than that day.
“So, if we can get the win against Wrexham and be able to take everything in as a winner, that would make it the perfect day.”
As a former Football League club of 87 years standing, the Red Dragons are understandably hot favourites to lift a trophy they last captured as recently as two years ago.
Bolder, though, believes anyone tempted to under-estimate the Yorkshire side could be in for a rude awakening.
“We have proved that we are a decent side,” he said. “The squad is strong. The manager can make changes and it doesn’t weaken the team at all. Having that option is great.
“The great thing, too, is that no-one sulks if not selected and everyone is fully behind each other. That is why we have had success.
“I have been told thousands of fans are heading to Wembley. That will be great. Look at what it did for us in the semi-final.
“They made a big difference and it was a great feeling at the final whistle. It would be nice to get a few more of them here at home a little bit more but we want to reward those fans.
“I do feel lucky to have had the career I have but playing for Ferriby will be special. Going there and winning would obviously top going there and losing.
“It is a massive game and one I am looking forward to just as much as when I went earlier in my career.”