WEST Auckland striker John Campbell is in line for an unusual double today, as he tries to make up for a disappointing personal season.
Campbell was part of the Darlington team that snatched a very dramatic win against Mansfield in the final of the 2011 FA Trophy, and he could join his former Darlington team-mate Chris Moore as having won medals in both competitions. Moore won the Vase with Whitley Bay in 2009 before he moved to Darlington.
“I’m very excited about it, although I’m not 100 per cent sure whether I’ll be starting the game or not – there’s plenty of competition for places up front,” he said.
“When I was at Darlington, I wasn’t sure whether I would be playing in the final or not. I didn’t play in the quarter-final against Salisbury, and again I didn’t play in the first leg of the semi-final against Gateshead. I played though in the second leg.
“I’d been on the bench for a few games, and then I scored against Rushden in the last home league game.
“It was soon after that when the manager Mark Cooper told me that I would be playing at Wembley – it turned out to be one of the best days of my life.”
Campbell played up front with Tommy Wright, and then midway through the second half was replaced by Chris Senior – who then became part of Darlington folklore with a memorable winner.
“Just after I was subbed, Marc Bridge-Wilkinson hit the post with a free kick, and Tommy Wright headed just wide.
“While I was sat on the bench unable to score, I really thought that we were going to penalties. But then Aaron Brown threw the ball into box, we all stood up in the technical area, The ball hit the crossbar, and Chris did well to score because the ball was spinning all over the place. We all charged down to the corner flag and joined in the celebrations!”
Campbell couldn’t play for West two years ago because he was cup-tied, and he said: “Getting the chance to play at Wembley twice is quite something. It’s an unbelievable place to play at, just walking up the tunnel on to the pitch is quite exciting – words can’t describe the feeling.
“Hopefully, the experience that I’ve got of playing there, and the experience of some of the West lads who were there two years ago, will be a big help to us.
“We’re all buzzing for today’s game. If we play as well as we can, then not many teams will beat us. We’ve had some excellent results this season in the Vase and the FA Cup, especially against Whitby and Skelmersdale.
“Myself, I think this season has been the poorest season I’ve had. I was playing some of the best football of my life, and then I got injured. I was out for six weeks, and until recently I haven’t really got back into it.
“I’m determined now to make up for a poor season. If I score the winner like Chris Senior did, then I’ll do more than take my shirt off!”