HAVING enjoyed watching many of Canvey Island’s memorable FA Cup moments, Gulls defender Mike Finneran is now looking to play a part in some of his own.

The centre-back grew up supporting the Islanders and was among a capacity crowd to see Jeff King’s side lose 3-2 to Southend United in a never to be forgotten encounter back in 2003.

But Canvey have now worked their way through to the first round of the competition for the first time in 16 years.

And Finneran cannot wait to take on Southern Premier Central side Banbury United.

“I’m really looking forward to the game this weekend and I know the boys are too,” said Finneran.

“We’ve trained well and management have provided lots of homework on the opposition so now it’s down to us players to put in a performance.

“It’s exciting and before moving to live on Canvey in 2002, I was living in Islington, so missed out on the FA Trophy win but my neighbour at the time was Mick Carlton who was the groundsman during the Jeff King era.

“He often took me to matches all the time as my dad worked nights and I particularly remember the game against Southend in 2003. Park Lane was packed and if I remember rightly that game was on Sky Sports so it’s great to be part of another cup run with the club.”

However, Finneran was starting to feel as though he would never get the opportunity to reach this stage “I’ll be honest I thought after last year when we lost to Bowers on penalties in the third qualifying round replay that was the chance to get to get to the first round proper as they went to play Chichester and as you know Chichester got the bye to the second round proper,” said Finneran.

“This year is extra special now.

“Mark Bentley and Brad Wellman have created a good side this season and brought in a lot of experience which has really brought out the best in me. We are a very sociable tight knit squad too and really look forward to the occasion.”

Canvey have already upset the odds to get this far. And Finneran feels the Gulls have been underdogs in all of their matches.

“The cup run this year has been tough and not once have we had a game that on paper we’re expected to win,” said Finneran.

“The boys have all dug deep each game and most importantly we stuck together as a squad. But it’s safe to say we couldn’t wait to hear the final whistle after the Cray Wanderers game though.”

Canvey beat Cray 3-2 after withstanding a late comeback from the visitors. But Finneran then feared tomorrow’s game may not get the go-ahead after prime minister Boris Johnson announced another lockdown.

“I just didn’t know if the game was ever going to happen,” said Finneran.

“I’m grateful we can still play but I really do feel for the fans, friends and families of the players as they will also miss out on such a big occasion.”