Gateshead defender Robbie Tinkler is set to play at Wembley for the first time in his career as his side takes on Halifax Town in the FA Trophy final next Sunday.
This will also be only the second time in Gateshead’s 46-year history that they will play at Wembley. The last time came in 2014 when the Heed lost 2-1 to Cambridge United in the Conference Premier play-off Final.
In a recent interview with SportsByte, Tinkler said: “It’s an honour. Personally, it’s my first time [going to Wembley]. As a kid, it’s something that you look at England playing there and it’s quite a big deal.
“A lot of my family are really excited. I’ve got quite the tribe going down so I’m looking forward to it.
“If you looked at where we were at Christmas time I think we were everyone’s favourites to go down.
“The mood in the camp wasn’t great. We knew we were better than what was shown.
“To get to Wembley from this season it seems to be the case. A lot of teams [in the relegation zone] would struggle to end up doing well in a cup competition as it’s a respite from the league.
“Win or lose we’ve done really well to get where we are and I think we would be proud.”
Gateshead is yet to beat Halifax this season. Halifax came out on top in a 2-0 win at home early in the season with the reverse fixture ending in a goalless draw. Tinkler along with his teammates will be looking to beat Halifax to add silverware to the club’s trophy cabinet.
Tinkler said: “It’s a tough one because we’ve played them twice and they were two close games.
“When we played them away from home we got beat by quite a fair margin but the game itself was quite close and the scoreline didn’t quite reflect it.
“When we played them here I think we were really unlucky not to take three points. They’re effective in what they do.”
Looking back, many Heed fans have questioned how Gateshead has even managed to reach the final. At times Gateshead could barely field as an injury crisis started to begin during the Christmas period. At one point two of the four subsites Gateshead used for a matchday squad were made up of goalkeepers including the club’s Technical Director.
Speaking on the injury crisis, Tinkler said: “It’s been an obscure team for injuries. I’ve never played in a team who has had as many repetitive ones.
“I think being versatile is a mixed bag. Some managers will play you out of position until everyone’s fit, then you don’t play.
“But the different styles we have played this year has helped a lot of the lads.
“I know myself has played a few positions, I know Kenton [Richardson] has played a few, Bails [Owen Bailey] has played a few. It has been the key to success.”
Part of Gateshead’s success is to do with the positive morale in the dressing room according to both Tinkler and player-manager Mike Williamson.
Tinkler said: “You will never find a dressing room where you find 20 lads who are all mates. I think you get as close as you can or it is a respect.
“Sometimes it takes a little time to gel, this year is a perfect example of that.
“We definitely are a tight-knit group and it showed in the second-half of the season.”