KENDAL-born Bradford City player Garry Thompson will take to the hallowed Wembley turf at 4pm today as his side’s extraordinary Capital One Cup journey comes to a climax - and his family will be there in droves to support him.
Thompson’s mother Helen, father Mike, sisters Lauren and Lisa, grandfather Kevin and his family friends, all of whom live in Kendal, are making the trip to London this weekend to witness what could be one of the most historic days in English football.
And Helen thinks that League Two Bradford City may have a squeak at beating Premier League Swansea City, who themselves are playing in their first ever major final.
“I’m excitedly nervous about the game,” said Helen.
“I always get nervous when I watch Garry play but I’m so proud of him.
“I think it’s going to be a tough game for him and Bradford but hopefully I’d like to think they’ll win 2-1 because that was the score when Bradford beat Exeter in 2007!”
This is Thompson’s fourth appearance at Wembley. He scored Morecambe’s first goal in their Conference play-off final victory over Exeter City when he first played at Wembley in 2007, and was part of the Scunthorpe squad that made two appearances at the stadium in the 2008-2009 season when Scunthorpe lost in the Johnston’s Paint Trophy final to Luton Town but they won promotion to the Championship by beating Millwall 3-2.
But appearance number four is likely to be top of the list for Thompson, and Helen said that she was humbled by the messages of support for her son from the Kendal community.
“People have been shaking my hand in the street but this is all Garry’s achievement, not mine.
“It’s marvellous to see the support he has been given and whenever anybody says something we always pass it onto him.
“It’s great that people are following his progress.”
The Thompson family are driving down to London to watch Garry this Sunday but if Bradford do the impossible and win they won’t be able to celebrate as much as they would like to - all of them are back at work in Kendal on the following Monday.
City have been on a remarkable run in the League Cup this season which has taken the footballing world by storm. But they had to use extra time to overcome League One Notts County in the first round of the competition back in August, when they won 1-0.
Thompson struck a dramatic late winner against Watford, who are currently third in the Championship, as his side won 2-1 in the second round, and it was extra time drama again in the third round when they triumphed 3-2 against Burton Albion - the only side from their own division that Bradford have played.
The Bantams proved their credentials at penalty-taking by knocking out Premier League Wigan Athletic 4-2 on spot-kicks in the next round, before the biggest shock of all - a 3-2 penalty shoot-out success over Arsenal. Thompson had scored Bradford’s goal in normal time, which finished 1-1, before the West Yorkshire side won their ninth consecutive penalty shoot-out over the Gunners.
The semi-final over two legs saw the Bantams prevail 4-3 on aggregate over Aston Villa as the team became the first fourth-tier side in more than 50 years to reach the League Cup final.