Clarke believes Sudbury have a real chance in final

NO FEAR: Sam Clarke is ready for the challenge of Maidstone
NO FEAR: Sam Clarke is ready for the challenge of Maidstone

An artificial pitch and a club playing at a higher level will not provide barriers to stop AFC Sudbury ending the club’s longest spell without a trophy.

That is the view of captain Sam Clarke, who will proudly lead his side into a final for the first time since he joined the club in July 2008.

The Yellows longest-serving player is adamant they will be doing far more than making up the numbers when travelling to Ryman Premier play-off chasers Maidstone United in Tuesday’s Ryman League Robert Dyas Cup final (7.45pm).

“We know we will be up against good opposition but that is a challenge for everyone,” he said.

“We have beaten teams in a higher league to get to the final and there is no reason why we can’t match them on the day and do it again.

“The pitch is not really an issue, we just adjust to the surface like we have had to do when we have been away and it has been wet underfoot or at home when it has been a bit tricky.

“We beat Harlow Town on their 3G pitch to get to the semi-finals and we have trained on one several times.”

Clarke’s last experience of a senior final was in the 2006/07 season when he was a runner-up with Great Wakering Rovers in the Essex Senior Cup at Southend United’s Roots Hall against AFC Hornchurch (2-1).

And having left the DVD unwatched on his shelf gathering dust, he is determined to make the most of this fresh chance of glory.

“I have got the DVD at home but not watched it for years,” he said.

“I have had to wait a little while (at AFC) but it will be a very proud moment for myself, but also everyone else who has been at the club for the last seven or eight years.

“I am happy for the club to reach a final and hopefully we can bring the trophy home.”

AFC Sudbury’s fans will be far outnumbered at their hosts, who average crowds of 1,686 in the league, but Clarke said those who do make the journey can really play their part in a rare special showpiece occasion.

“I am sure they will make their views heard,” he said. “They will not match Maidstone for numbers, but I am sure they can match them for noise levels.”

He added he hoped the old air raid siren used by the fans, something he admitted he does likes hearing, can provide their soundtrack to silverware.

He added while the league was always the most important it will be a game the whole club looks forward to taking part in.

“It is a big game as it is a cup final,” he said.

“The priority has always been the league but this is a little reward for the squad.

“In this competition players who have not been playing a lot of games would have featured and it shows how well we have done as a squad.”