Sutton United defender Louis John is raring to go ahead of the Papa Johns Trophy Final, as the U’s return to Wembley for the first time in more than four decades.
Sutton secured their place in the showpiece event, beating Wigan Athletic in the Semi-Final. For the 27-year-old, it’s a sign of how far the Club has come.
“It’s a massive achievement,” he acknowledged. “We have one of the smallest budgets in League Two. I think the recruitment has been massive to get us where we are. We’ve got a solid group of players and the backroom staff have helped to get us firing.”
He first arrived at Gander Green Lane as a 15-year-old after overcoming a knee injury which hindered his early progress. After spending some time around the U’s reserve team, he was picked up by Crawley Town, returning on loan to Sutton in his late teens.
“When I first arrived here, the pitch was a mud bath and there was an old running track around the outside of the pitch.”
“The Club has come along massively in a short space of time and things need to be done as you move up the pyramid.
“It’s not just about the players on the pitch, it’s about what goes on behind closed doors as well and I know everyone at the top has been as hard as us on the pitch to make sure everything is right.”
Sutton know something about cup runs. They beat Leeds United on their way to the last 16 of the FA Cup five years ago before being edged out by Arsenal - one of John’s highlights in a U’s shirt.
The South Londoners and John, who had his very own Papa Johns outlet named after him in the run-up to the Semi-Final, have a chance to go all the way this year and add a piece of silverware to the trophy cabinet.
“It’s been on and off, but in total I think this is my seventh or eighth season,” he said. “I’ve had some good times here. Getting promoted to the EFL and the FA Cup run a few years back.
"We’ve had some good times and hopefully now we can get the business done at Wembley against Rotherham.
“It’s going to be a tough test, but we don’t fear anyone. We know how we want to approach games and I’m sure we’ll put a good game-plan together to get the win in the Final.
"We’re going to Wembley with our eyes on the prize, ready to win.”