Next Stop Lake Garda

When Gavin Macpherson eventually settled down to look at his inbox around midnight Monday, he had over 120 messages of congratulations from the non-league fraternity, including a host of fellow managers, as well as approaches from potential players.

Twenty-four hours later that number had doubled, proving if proof was needed just how momentous an achievement it was for the club to reach Step 2 of the non-league pyramid.

More of that, of course, in the days, weeks and months to come but right now Gavin and his backroom team turn their attention to trying to achieve a fantastic “double” by bringing home the Fenix Trophy from Italy.

Players and management alike have hardly had time to catch their breath since our promotion to National League South but the focus has already switched to Lake Garda and the Fenix Final Four, starting with our semifinal on Friday (kickoff 9pm local time) against Prague Raptors who won all four of their group games.

“We’re trying to do our usual homework as best we can but it’s not easy,” said Gav.  “They are obviously a very good side. The other two teams, Lewes and FC United of Manchester, are obviously easier for homework and I’ll probably go and watch their game before ours.”

With promotion in the bag, there is an argument to suggest that Fenix is simply a bonus, an extension of our promotion party but Gavin isn’t looking at it that way.

“I’m fully focussed on going out there and trying to win this competition. Obviously if you’d offered me one or the other, I’d have taken promotion. But I want to be successful as a manager and so do the players. We all want things like this on our CVs. Plus, the exposure we’ve had in the media over this competition has been incredible.”

After Monday’s exertions at Chatham, the luckless Jake Cass is unable to take part while a few others have knocks or are away for  personal reasons, at least for Friday.

But Gavin will still take a competitive squad as we bid to win a second trophy in a matter of days, with the final taking place on Sunday.

“Of course there will be some social time because the boys have worked incredibly hard and deserve it,” said Gav. “But we’ve embraced the competition and we have a hell of lot of supporters travelling out to Italy. I want to do them proud by trying to do the double.”