Sills driven by third Wembley trip

Tim Sills, number nine, celebrates netting for Gosport at Westleigh Park. Picture: Dave Haines

Tim Sills, number nine, celebrates netting for Gosport at Westleigh Park. Picture: Dave Haines

Jordan Rose competing for the Hawks in the final at Fratton Park. Picture: Sarah Standing

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Tim Sills admits he could already have retired quite happily, having achieved almost every footballer’s dream.

The Gosport Borough striker powered home a memorable header in a Conference play-off final to help Torquay back to the Football League back in 2009, courtesy of a 2-0 win over Cambridge United.

But the 34-year-old, who netted Borough’s goal in the semi-final first-leg 1-1 draw with the Hawks, is after another moment of glory at the home of English football before he eventually hangs up his boots.

And he’s determined to help his team-mates experience what he’s already enjoyed.

Sills said: ‘I always said after I scored at Wembley I could retire happily.

‘But I could get there and do it again. That would be something else.

‘It was the Conference play-off final. We tried to treat it as just another game but it’s not just another game. It was at Wembley and I scored – nobody can take that away from me.

‘The goal is also on Youtube so it’s been immortalised as well.

‘I had dreamed of playing at Wembley more than I dreamed of being a professional footballer, to be honest.

‘We went there the year before and lost to Ebbsfleet in the FA Trophy final.

‘Even when we went there and lost, it was one of the best days of my life.

‘So to get there again the next year was incredible.

‘To make it a third time with Gosport would be a massive bonus.

‘But I want to help to get the other lads there as well.’

Sills has enjoyed an impressive career predominantly in the Football League and the Conference, having played for Aldershot, Oxford Hereford, Stevenage, Kingstonian and two separate spells at Basingstoke.

And he showed he’d lost none of the old finishing instincts with his only real sight of goal in the hard-fought draw at Westleigh Park.

‘It was on my wrong foot so it was a bit of a swinger, but it was nice to see it go in,’ said Sills.

‘You are taught from a young age to go across the keeper and keep it low. Luckily, I managed to do that.

‘The keeper got a finger to it and I thought he’d done enough to save it, but even when it went in I couldn’t run off and celebrate because I was too tired. I just stood there shouting.

‘The pitch was just sapping your energy.

‘The groundsman did a great job in getting the game on, and it certainly wasn’t his fault, but that pitch was one of the worst I’ve ever played on.

‘Even when we came out for the warm-up, it was just ridiculous. It was a real challenge to play on but it was the same for both sides.’

It could be another similar surface at Privett Park tomorrow if the game beats the weather, but Sills knows his side will have to overcome the odds once again to claim their place at Wembley.

He said: ‘We’ve been the underdogs in pretty much every round we have played.

‘We dug in for the first leg, defended well and set it up for the second leg but we are under no illusions that we are still the underdogs.

‘We did a job on Monday night and we’re taking it back to our place with the scores level so it starts even.’

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