MANAGER Ian Colmer dedicated Branksome Railway’s historic FA Sunday Cup success to the memory of local footballer Shane Stanley.
Mr Stanley, who was well known on the amateur football circuit having played for Poole Borough for a number of years, died at the age of 31 on Friday.
Colmer revealed that he had spent the weekend consoling “distraught” players ahead of today's 2-1 extra-time win over New Salamis in North London with some of his Sunday stars apprehensive about playing on the back of the devastating news.
Sean Gallagher’s first-half strike put Railway in front before the visitors endured what Colmer described as “a footballing lesson” after the interval with Salamis scoring 10 minutes into the second half.
But after weathering the storm, Dan Manuel popped up to convert Sam Purdy’s centre following a driving run from man-of-the-match Micky Hubbard four minutes from the end of extra-time.
The narrow fourth round victory sparked wild celebrations as Railway progressed to the last eight of the national competition, just two rounds from a dream final at Anfield.
However, despite his excitement over tomorrow's quarter-final draw, Colmer said everyone’s thoughts had been dominated by the passing of a close friend to many at his club.
Colmer told the Daily Echo: “I spoke to a number of our lads who knew Shane very well and emotions were understandably running very high.
“I had shared a beer with Shane in the past but some of the players were close friends of his and were unsure whether to come to the game.
“While I would respect anyone’s wish to sit it out, my view was that the best place to be was the football pitch and I have to give massive praise to the players who went out there and wanted to win for a man who represented local football with pride.”
Colmer continued: “We rode our luck at times but, hopefully, we sent out a little message to Shane and with the pressure we had to withstand, it certainly felt like he was looking after us.”
As well as heaping praise on his players, Railway’s boss also paid tribute to husband and wife team Mark and Eileen Blackburn, who run the club, sponsors Patrick’s restaurant in Ashley Cross and the Bournemouth FA for their support.
Branksome Railway: Knights, Andrews (Asagba, 70), Whatling, Corby, Ross, Purdy, Boyt (Midson, 70), Hubbard, Willis, Blackburn, Gallagher (Manuel, 60).