LOSE focus and you’ll miss out on a Wembley place.
That’s the warning from Gateshead boss Gary Mills as he prepares his side for the biggest game in the club’s history.
The Heed take on Cambridge United at the national stadium in Sunday’s Conference play-off final, with 10,000 fans following them to Wembley.
Mills has been in this position before, guiding York back to the Football League via the play-offs two years ago. For many of the players, however, it’s a new experience, and the manager has warned them to ignore the circus surrounding the club and concentrate on the job in hand.
Mills said: “When you get to Wembley, there’s a lot of talk and a lot of things to sort out, like tickets.
“It can quite easily take away why we’re going there. It’s important we get all that out the way, and then totally focus on training and preparing for a very important 90 minutes of football.
“It’s exactly that and nothing else for me. I know exactly what I want to do – I think my experience of going there (with York City) two years ago is massive.
“And if I see anything from anybody within the dressing room unfocused, then it could cost them their place. Simple as that. Because I know it’s important that we are prepared properly.”
Not only do Gateshead have the chance to return to the Football League 54 years after they were booted out in 1960, it is also the club’s first appearance at Wembley.
“I’m honestly proud we’ve got to Wembley,” added Mills. “But if we lose then we’re on the same level as all the other teams that haven’t gone up out of the Conference.
“I’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen. I’ve got to make sure that we go to Hartlepool (United) next season, and a lot of other (League Two) grounds that a lot of supporters have never been to.
“That’s inspiring, it’s a breath of fresh air. It gives everybody a lift. So that’s my aim.”