HEYBRIDGE Swifts manager Jody Brown is setting his sights on silverware.
The Scraley Road side are preparing for Tuesday’s Tolleshunt D’Arcy Memorial Cup final, at home to Hullbridge Sports.
And while he admits the competition was not his top priority at the start of the season, he believes it will give his young players an important, valuable experience.
Swifts are the holders of the cup and eliminated neighbours Maldon and Tiptree 4-3 in a thrilling semi-final, following an earlier success at Wivenhoe Town.
“It’s not a massive competition and I’d be lying if I said it was my top priority at the start of the season,” said Brown, whose side have a Ryman League division north match at Aveley first, on Saturday afternoon.
“I certainly wouldn’t want to win it at the expense of going down.
“However, it’s a cup that I believe adds real value for our club and supporters.
“It’s a competition I really respect and it would be great to retain the silverware.
“To win it again would be a great achievement.
“It gives the players a taste of playing in a final, where there’s something special at stake, and it’s a great experience for them.
“It gets them used to trying to win silverware and that’s an important habit to get into.
“Hopefully we can give another good account of ourselves, finish the job and win the cup.
“We certainly enjoyed it last season.
“I could see on the players’ faces how much it meant to them and that’s why I put real value on it, not to mention the fact that all proceeds go to charity.
“It gives me a chance to use my squad and certainly adds to our fixture calendar, in the best possible way. We’re really looking forward to it.”
Hullbridge’s route to the final included a 3-0 success against Burnham Ramblers.
Tuesday’s final is a 7.45pm kick-off at Scraley Road.
Swifts have four more league fixtures left, starting with this weekend’s trip to Aveley.
After that they have Easter games at Norwich United and promotion-chasing rivals Maldon, before finishing with a home match against Phoenix Sports on April 22.
Swifts look to have done enough to have secured their place in division north for next season.
And Brown believes that bright times are on the horizon, with things shaping up nicely both on the pitch and off it.
“We look to be pretty much safe now and we’ve already surpassed last season’s point tally, with four games still to play,” he said.
“That’s an excellent achievement and these are exciting times for our club.
“We’re certainly progressing and developing off the field.
“Crowds are up, our youth set-up is blossoming and our involvement within the community is growing all the time.
“New, well-qualified people with something to offer are getting involved and so I really that as a club we’re beginning to flourish.
“Hopefully I can now keep this squad together – all the noises from the players are positive, about wanting to stay – and then I’m hoping and planning to have an even better season next year.
“We’re moving in a direction that I’m very happy about.”
Darelle Russell scored the only goal of the game as Swifts, unbeaten in three prior to kick-off, went down 1-0 at Waltham Abbey on Saturday.