BOTH teams are 'ecstatic' at reaching this season’s McDonald’s Suffolk Primary Cup Final.
Bardwell Sports and Kesgrave Kestrels will both be appearing in the final for the first time.
The two teams meet in this season’s final at the Jobserve Community Stadium, home of Colchester United, in Saturday’s final, kick-off 12 noon.
Stan Evans, who is player-manager of Bardwell Sports, said: “It's a bit cliché but it really does mean everything to the boys. It's a massive job running this club, not having a full-time manager and with players living far away.
“We've been so close to folding a few times over the years so to have seen it through and to make it to a final at Colchester United really means a lot to us. It's the product of five years of hard work and dedication.”
Bardwell Sports (white shirts) in action against Wickham Market Reserves (navy blue shirts) in their semi-final played at Framlingham Town FC. Main photograph: Action from the other semi-final between Kesgrave Kestrels (blue & white stripes) and Framlingham Town 'A' (red shirts) played at Ipswich Wanderers FC.
Bardwell Sports won their semi-final 5-4 on penalties following a goalless draw against Wickham Market Reserves at Framlingham Town FC.
Evans said: “We played and won a cup final only 36 hours before the semi-final! The boys were exhausted and I’m sure will agree that we didn’t play our best football in the semi-final, but to come through two massive games in such a short amount of time is a massive achievement.”
The two teams both play in Division Three of the Macron SIL, and when asked what he will be saying to his players ahead of the final Evans quipped: “I’m going to play them Al Pacino's speech from Any Given Sunday!
“In all seriousness we’ve played them twice this season and each side has won once, and it looks like it’ll go down to the wire in the title race too, so we know the two teams are very evenly matched.
“It’s just going to come down to who wants it more on the day, and we’ll have to make sure it’s us.”
Carl Chittock is club chair as well as joint first-team manager of Kesgrave Kestrels along with Jake Monaghan.
He said of reaching the final: “We are absolutely ecstatic, particularly as we have fallen at the quarter final and last 16 stages in the last two seasons.
“To be the first Kestrels team to achieve this in our short 11-year history gives us a real sense of pride.”
Kestrels booked their place in the final thanks to a 2-1 victory over Framlingham Town ‘A’ at Ipswich Wanderers FC.
Chittock said: “There were a couple of pleasing aspects about our win. Firstly, was the way we played as I thought we showcased our playing style in what I personally thought was a game that was a tremendous advert for the SIL.
“Secondly, it was the fabulous support we received – over 250 people watching was incredible for a game at this level with a significant number supporting Kestrels.
“My abiding memory of the night was seeing the high number of youngsters in attendance wearing Kestrels’ kit, that was brilliant!”
As for Saturday’s opponents Chittock said: “It’s an old cliche but we will be focussing on ourselves and what we do well.
“Both our matches against Bardwell in the league have been close affairs and even though we beat them recently there were many things we did not do well on the day and these are the things we will be addressing with the players ahead of the final.
“We know and expect a tough game with Bardwell, but I am sure it will be likewise for them!”