WEMBLEY. It’s the word that has got everyone at Stockton Town talking, and eight weeks after winning the semi-final the big day is finally upon the Teesside club.

“My wife has said ‘if you mention that word one more time!” jokes Micky Dunwell, Stockton’s manager.

“It’s been quite hectic, and it is hectic anyway running a non-league club. There’s always emails to answer and texts off someone, players asking you ridiculous questions.

“Even since the quarter-finals the amount of time you’ve got to have doing meetings, sorting out tickets, doing non-football things.

“People forget we have full-time jobs. You start at 7.30am, finish at 5pm, at the ground for 6pm and you’re there until 10pm some nights. And that’s sometimes two or three times a week since the semi-final.

“It was actually good, once we had won the semi-final, to get back to a league game and a bit of normality. But this has been great.”

In preparation for tomorrow’s FA Vase final with Thatcham Town, Dunwell, an operations manager at a mail order company, has found even greater constraints on his time.

As well as committee meetings, arranging tickets and being fitted for a new suit, there has been a reconnaissance visit to Wembley, a routine procedure for clubs before finals.

“Being pitch-side is totally different to being there as a fan. It looks so much bigger,” he says.

“We went around the ground into places where you’d never normally go, the changing rooms, the boardroom, and it was unreal and it’s going to be an unbelievable day.”

There was a media day too at Stockton’s Bishopton Road West, when the Football Association brought the Vase with them.

While only a couple of players were required for photographs and interviews, Dunwell chose to gather as many of the squad he could – jobs permitting – which says much for the team ethic he encourages.

“It was important to make an effort,” says Dunwell, regarding the media day. “I’ve said all along that when we do bring players in they’ve got to fit into what we’ve done over the past four or five years. That’s not just our style of play, that’s into the squad as well.

“We have a good togetherness, we try to make it enjoyable, but at the same time we’re serious when we need to be.”

Stockton are serious about silverware. Starting in 2013-13 they won the Wearside League title four years in a row, only prevented from taking promotion earlier due to ground grading issues, before winning Division Two of the Northern League at the first attempt 12 months ago.

This is Dunwell’s fourth season in charge, a club he ended his playing days with in 2014 aged 34. He’d been a striker and started in the youth ranks at Cambridge United before serving a two-year apprenticeship with Hartlepool United and a further two years as a pro but making only one senior appearance, which happened to be the final game of Peter Beardsley’s illustrious career.

Dunwell went on to play for clubs such as Bishop Auckland, Durham City and Northallerton before one last hurrah with Stockton in ’13-14, scoring 18 goals in 26 games and then became boss since when Stockton have gone from strength to strength.

With a strong youth section underpinning the club and being the breeding ground of several of the squad that will be at Wembley tomorrow, Dunwell has led the team to various cup wins as well as back-to-back promotions.

Asked to name those who have influenced his managerial style, he says: “Billy Horner was my youth team coach, and there was Brian Honour, a Hartlepool legend, and he was really good with the youngsters.

“I had him at Durham as well when we got to the Vase semi-final, and then there was Billy Cruddas and he was proper old school, a real character.

“I don’t model myself on anyone, but you do try to pick up different bits, and deal with players how you would like to have been dealt with.”

His assistant is JD Briggs, who played alongside him at Hartlepool during what was an influential time for both of them, but Dunwell laments a change in culture of the game.

He said: “Our time at Hartlepool probably shaped how we deal with players now, because we were at the back end of the old-school approach, where you cleaned the boots, the showers and the toilets. You got shouted at by Keith Houchen if there weren’t enough toilet rolls.

“They kept your feet on the ground and you had respect for the pros, and that’s what’s missing from the game now.

“Young players get too much too soon. They can get three-year contracts on ridiculous money, be released after six months, get all that money and then drift out of the game.

“Youth players should still be doing what we used to do.”