Savour every moment – US Portsmouth skipper Tom Jeffes’ message to his team-mates ahead of huge FA Vase tie with Christchurch
Captain Tom Jeffes told his US Portsmouth team-mates to savour every moment of their FA Vase last 32 tie against Christchurch - because they may never get this opportunity again.
There is not much the vastly-experienced centre-half, 34, has not encountered during his lengthy spell operating in the lower divisions of the non-league pyramid with Poole Town, Bournemouth Poppies, Brockenhurst and Hamworthy United, among others.
Ye USP's historic fourth round tiewith another of his former clubs tomorrow will be the first time he has ever featured at this stage of the competition.
Jeffes was at Poole Town when the Dophins reached the semi-finals in 2010-1, though he was unable to feature because he was cup-tied.
He insists his FA Vase record illustrates what a rare occasion the USP squad have the chance to be a part of against Christchurch.
Jeffes said: 'I’ve been around the block long enough and it’s what I try to say to the lads about the fact these games don’t come every week.
‘They don’t come every season - getting to the fourth round of the FA Vase is massive.
‘I tried saying to the lads a while ago that every cup game you lose is another year in which you can’t win that competition.
‘This is only the second time I’ve been at this stage of the Vase and I’ve been playing this level of football for about 15 years.
‘Unfortunately, I was cup tied when I was at Poole in the run to the semi-finals.
‘I played with Poppies through to the third round but went out.
‘When I’m not boring the boys too much, I try to say these are fantastic games to play in.
‘On the pitch it’s 11 v 11 and you never know. Obviously I know Ollie (Cherrett, Christchurch manager) and I know how important the game is for them as well.
‘If we go into it, turn up and what have you, and play to how we can then we’ve got as good an opportunity.
But Jeffes does not want the magnitude of such a big occasion to weigh USP down against their division-higher opponents.
Instead, the captain is urging them to stick to the principles which have helped them reach this stage.
Jeffes said: ‘It’s about not rising to the occasion in the wrong way and getting caught up in the moment.
'It’s just a case of doing what we can do and showing people what we can do.
‘From our part, I see it as we’re lucky to get an opportunity because I personally thought they (the FA) were going to scrap all this season.
‘It’s just a case of making the most of it.'