‘I woke up at 4am wide awake and ready to play’ – US Portsmouth’s Tom Cain on his FA Vase excitement
The excitement within the US Portsmouth camp is understandably reaching fever pitch ahead of their FA Vase semi-final showdown with Binfield.
But centre half Tom Cain is going to do his best to keep his cool to prevent burning out before the historic tie even kicks off at the Victory Stadium.
The former AFC Portchester player, 22, is one of the more lively and exuberant characters in the USP dressing room.
Such was his excitement ahead of the fourth round meeting with Wessex League Premier Division Christchurch last month, Cain was wide awake from 4am in anticipation of a fixture which kicked off at midday.
Yet, strangely, the further US have progressed the calmer he has become - because he always thinks he'll lose the bigger games!
But, with US now just one win from Wembley, Cain is hoping he can conserve as much energy as possible for on the field.
He said: 'I was speaking to Glenn (Turnbull) about it (getting excited) because the past couple of weeks I’ve been getting cramp and he said I just get too excited.
‘It was the Christchurch game, I woke up at 4 o’clock in the morning wide awake and ready to play football.
'I was in the group chat at 4 in the morning, the only person who was up was Gricey (Tom Grice) because he’s got a new born child.
‘I was sat there watching TV for five hours before going to Callum’s (Glen) for breakfast to stay in routine.
‘I actually had a lay in then (before the Tavistock tie in the fifth round), I got up at 6.30am so it wasn’t too bad.
‘Everyone was on the coach tired and I was wide awake, so it was like a normal day for me.
‘I’m quite a negative person so when it comes to the bigger games, I always think we’re going to lose.
‘The bigger the games we’ve got I’d say I’ve got less faith, but as soon as the game starts going you start to believe a little bit more. During the game I’ll be the one that’s getting everyone up.'
It's easy to understand why Cain has so much enthusiasm for football. Prior to joining USP soon after boss Glenn Turnbull arrived in the summer of 2019, the centre-back had spent the best part of two years away from the game.
Cain sustained an ACL injury while out in Portsmouth for a friend's birthday and spent a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Despite such a serious setback, he insisted he never feared not being able to play again - although getting back on the field and being one win away from Wembley might have been a stretch too far.
Cain said: ‘They say you get nervous, it’s not even nerves, I just look forward to Saturdays playing football because it’s like a whole day sort of thing.
‘I had a couple of years out where I couldn’t play so whatever the game is I just get excited because I just love playing.
‘I done my ACL when I was at AFC Portchester. I jumped down Guildhall steps and snapped my ACL.
‘I always thought I was going to play again, I never really had much doubt. I speak to Bedders (Harry Bedford) now because he’s done his knee and he’s getting panicky that he won’t play again.
‘But it’s all psychology and you’ve just got to take the comeback easy, don’t rush it.
‘I didn’t play for about 11 months after my operation just to give some extra time to make sure it was recovered.'
Cain has loved his time since deciding to get back into the game at US Portsmouth.
The North-End based defender says getting to Wembley with a group of friends would be a wonderful achievement.
And he sees no reason why they cannot defeat higher division Hellenic League Premier Binfield in the last-four.
Cain said: 'If we win (semi-final) it’ll mean the world but if we lose I think it’ll be the worst thing that’s ever happened, really.
‘None of us, like TJ (Tom Jeffes) has said, no-one really understands what we’ve done until you maybe get to his age.
‘The competition is our league and the league above so there’s never going to be any world-beaters.
‘Teams have signed players from leagues above in the games we’ve played but it depends how we turn up on the day. If we turn up and play to our potential there’s no reason why we can’t win.'