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Checkatrade Trophy

Steve Claridge's EFL Trophy memories

The former Birmingham City forward-turned pundit recalls his Wembley memories and discusses the competition's current format...

4 December 2018

"I remember it quite vividly actually. I remember first and foremost the amount of fans that went there - 52,000 bluenoses..."

As a former winner of the competition, Steve Claridge is one to look very fondly on the Checkatrade Trophy and the benefits it can bring to those battling for silverware and a famous day at Wembley Stadium.

The journey for those remaining in the 2018/19 competition starts to intensify this week, with Round Two set to get underway with fifteen fixtures spread across Tuesday and Wednesday evening.

Despite Claridge's success coming in the 1995 EFL Trophy Final with Birmingham City against Carlisle United, it is a moment in the 52-year olds career that is firmly etched into his memory.

He explained: "The novelty value hasn't worn off, it's fresh and it's clear in the memory. You have some Premier League Clubs who are there regularly, in Cup Finals every year - this competition certainly isn't like that.

"It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for some supporters and Clubs, and it is such a special occasion because everybody treats it that way.

"We actually got promoted that season, won the EFL Trophy and generally had a fantastic year, and the build-up to Wembley and the game itself was all apart of that.

"The competition ran parallel to the League, which created a fantastic amount of excitement and momentum - having that involvement was brilliant right through until the end of the season - it was that tonic to carry you through."

The competition has developed since that famous day for Claridge and Birmingham City - the introduction of U21 sides from invited Premier League and Sky Bet Championship Clubs, coupled with the regionalisation of fixtures has been implemented to develop the next generation of homegrown talent, whilst limiting Clubs' travel time to fixtures.

Those are changes that Claridge sees as a positive step to enable the competition to constantly grow and adapt to the ever-changing football landscape.

He said: "It is the perfect formula currently. The way the competition is balanced, with regionalised fixtures in the earlier stages and U21 Academies included - the overall structure is fantastic.

"It's huge for young players to be given an opportunity and that competitive side to the game. No game is meaningless, but you do need that competitive element and that is exactly what this competition brings,"

He added: "The way you look at it currently, Portsmouth are the number one seeds in the competition with them top of the standings in League One - that must be a great incentive knowing there is a realistic opportunity of a season similar to ours at Birmingham - promotion and cup competition silverware."


The full line-up ahead of Round Two is as follows:

Northern Section

Shrewsbury Town





Notts County



Oldham Athletic

Accrington Stanley


Lincoln City

Newcastle United U21


Macclesfield Town

Mansfield Town



Port Vale


Stoke City U21



Manchester City U21

Southern Section

Chelsea U21


AFC Wimbledon



Arsenal U21

Cambridge United


Northampton Town

Exeter City


Peterborough United

Cheltenham Town


Newport County

Luton Town


Southend United

Oxford United


Tottenham Hotspur U21

Swansea City U21


Bristol Rovers


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