ADAM Rundle is hoping to get the chance of reliving one of the most bittersweet days of his career.
The South Shields-born winger lines up for Gateshead tomorrow in the first leg of their FA Trophy semi-final with Darlington.
With both sides just two games from Wembley, and Rundle would love the chance to return to the famous stadium to put right one of his most disappointing days as a professional footballer.
The 26-year-old experienced the highs and lows of life at the home of football in the 2008 League Two play-off final with Rochdale, scoring a stunning volley against Stockport before seeing his side finally lose 3-2.
Now the midfielder has a chance to put that right – if he can get the better of some of his old pals.
Rundle joined Gateshead on loan from Morecambe until the end of the season, and admits the possibility of playing at Wembley was one of the reasons he signed.
“Gateshead tried to sign me in the summer, so they’d already sold the club to me beforehand. They are striving hard to get into the Football League and are very ambitious,” revealed the wide man.
“I saw that they (Gateshead) were playing well and were in a semi-final with the chance of going to Wembley, and that was obviously an attraction as well.
“It (playing at Wembley) was a good experience. We got beat, but I scored a goal and it is something that people seem to remember.
“I would be delighted to go back to Wembley, but if I did get the chance to go back, I’d want to win this time.”
There is still a major hurdle to overcome first, however – two games against a Darlington side who sit above Gateshead in the Blue Square Premier table.
The two teams clashed in a league warm-up at the International Stadium on Tuesday night, with Gateshead fighting back from a two-goal deficit to pinch a 2-2 draw.
And the clash has added spice for Rundle, who started his league career with Darlington after being released by Newcastle United as a junior.
If he’s looking for a lucky omen, however, how about this –– he was part of the Rochdale side that beat Darlington, of all teams, in their semi-final three years ago, prevailing on penalties after the scores were all square after two legs.
Rundle hopes it won’t be as tight or nervy this time around, but added: “It’s going to be two hard games against Darlington. They are a good team.
“They are one of my old clubs so I know what they will be about. There’s a couple of lads there that I know from my time. They are good players, so I know it will be a very hard game.”
Gateshead will hope for another big performance from ex-Sunderland centre-back Ben Clark, who grabbed a last-gasp equaliser in the midweek 2-2 league draw with Darlo.
Darlington – who include former Sunderland midfielder Jamie Chandler – miss broken hand victim John Campbell, plus the cup-tied Michael Smith, so Tommy Wright, Chris Senior or Nathan Modest will partner Liam Hatch up front.