Bobby Wilkinson FA Cup Interview

Ahead of Saturday’s cup match against league-leaders Bath City, we spoke to manager Bobby Wilkinson, where he gave us his thoughts on the club’s preparation for the game, the magic of the FA Cup and the ‘togetherness’ of the club moving forward.

You’ve been in the  Weymouth dugout for 12 months now. What’s been the most enjoyable part of the job for you?

Working with the players every day, building something for the future, and trying to make Weymouth a better football club. Even though it was already a brilliant club, it’s been enjoyable to build a good squad and build for the future.

Two wins out of three for now in all competitions. What have been the key changes in and around the team since last season?

I had to bring togetherness. The togetherness is fantastic at this football club, and it’s one thing that I’m very proud of. Everyone is trying their best at the football club.

Is the idea of togetherness important to you, the idea that no player is bigger than the club?

That’s been my philosophy throughout my whole career as a manager. If everyone comes together you will achieve success. I don’t like [the idea of] individuals; you have to build a team, but it takes time.

Regarding tomorrow’s match, the FA Cup is known for its ‘magic’, particularly in the lower leagues. How important is the FA Cup to you and the club?

It’s one of the most important competitions in the world. It brings a lot of joy to a football club. To do what we did last year, to go to Wimbledon and see all the fans, it’s a feeling I will truly never forget.

We would love to get into the first round proper again but we’re in for a real tough challenge. We’re against the league leaders, but we’re at home and the crowd will be backing us.

What’s your memories of the cup growing up? Has your feelings towards the trophy heightened since your career in football management?

The FA Cup was a special day because you didn’t have Sky Sports then. You would be waiting on BBC One or ITV to watch it. I remember getting up on a Saturday morning and you used to watch the coach leave from the hotel to the ground.

As a manager, it didn’t mean as much at the start, because I wanted to bring success by winning leagues and gaining promotions. But, as I got more experienced, I started to realise what it meant to clubs and fans.

Up until last year I had never done well in the FA Cup, but to make the First Round Proper was a massive memory for me. I’ve still got the ball all boxed up with the programme!

When it comes to big games like these, are there differences in preparing for these matches as a manager compared to your playing days?

As a manager you can never switch off. You’ve got to work extremely hard, for 24 hours a day, to prepare for that game. It’s quite challenging when you finish at 5.30 on a Saturday and then you’re analysing Bath City, like we were this week. But, it’s a challenge I relish, and all my players and management team deserve credit as they’re working extremely hard to prepare for this game.

You set the bar high last season with winning three times to get to the first round proper. To what extent is there pressure amongst the squad to do that again tomorrow?

There’s no pressure. We would like to get to the next round after Saturday, but you take one game at a time and you will be where you will be. It’s going to be a challenge against Bath, but if we get in the next round I’ll be overjoyed, and we’ll certainly be trying.

You mentioned how tough the game would be given Bath’s form. To what extent does home advantage counteract that?

Home advantage can always help when you get the crowd on your side and make the place a fortress. Our fans have been so loud and proud, especially this season. The lads have understood this year that they pay money to come and watch [them], so we want to put a smile on their faces.

Although you already mentioned Bath being a “challenge,” we were the victors in our last encounter. What should the visitors expect when returning to our ground?

We’re not worried about what the Bath players think. We’ve just got to turn up and do our job. We beat them at the end of last season when we were fighting for survival, so we really had something to play for. Now, we have to turn up with this new group and dominate, like we did last weekend and the weekend before.

Here’s a cracker I heard from someone at the club. I heard Bath City have never beaten a team managed by Bobby Wilkinson!

I think that is actually right! A couple of years ago I was at Wealdstone, and I won there 3-1. But, that’s in the past now. It’s a good stat and of course I’d love it to continue, but this is a cup final for both teams. I can’t look in the past. Whoever prepares right and believes they can get through will do it.

Interview by Jack Webb

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