NOT many college students would relish watching their lecturer take part in something they teach every day – but this is no ordinary field trip for goalkeeper Matt Brown’s class.
The Bournemouth and Poole College’s sports lecturer has the opportunity to show his boys how it is done when he dons the gloves for Sholing at Wembley Stadium in tomorrow’s FA Vase final against West Auckland Town (3pm).
A number of staff and students are set to join the former Southampton youngster in his march to the arch when Brown represents his local side in the annual showpiece.
Born in Southampton and brought up less than a mile from Sholing’s Silverlake Arena, the 24-year-old custodian is now based in Wallisdown where he lives with girlfriend Katie, while teaching and coaching Bourne- mouth & Poole’s team in the Hampshire Colleges League.
“The students have been great and, hopefully, a few of them will be there, particularly the football ones,” said Brown.
“We have organised a coach for staff and students and they have all been very supportive at work.
When Sholing were in the Southern League it was a bit tighter on time but the college have been brilliant.
“They knew from the off that I played football to a reasonable standard and they were more than supportive in letting me manage my hours.
“It helps running the football programme and the success is a good incentive for the students coming in to see that they can progress and what they can achieve when they move from college to men’s football.”
But while he is keen to set a good example at the home of English football, Brown readily admits he can’t quite believe his luck in continuing a family tradition which dates back to his father Paul Brown’s stint between the sticks for Vosper Thornycroft, the club from which Sholing developed.
“It still hadn’t sunk in before the semi-final win over Eastbourne United and it still hasn’t sunk in now,” he added.
“I don’t think it will hit home until we walk out on the pitch and realise we’re about to play there.
Quite a lot of professionals never get the chance so this is a massive opportunity. My dad played for VT in the 70s and 80s when they were based near Middle Road.
There has always been a bit of rivalry between us because he won quite a few trophies but he didn’t get to Wembley so I’ve got that one up on him now.
“Whenever we go to grounds, everyone seems to know who he is. He had a good career but I have a few years left in me and I can’t see him getting to Wembley now – only to watch me!”
Having played alongside the likes of Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale during a three-year stint with Saints, Brown was released at 16 and went on to represent Romsey Town and Sholing before studying children’s physical education at Plymouth University.
He admitted he would have loved a shot at top-flight stardom but insisted he was more than happy with the life he has built since moving to Dorset a year ago.
“I would have loved to be a professional footballer but I have no regrets at all,” he added.
“At that age, I was very small and got released because of my height. Being out of that environment, you go down the education route and different social aspects come into your life.
“You don’t stay as fit as you should be but I still love my football and anything that comes from it is a bonus in my eyes.
“Bournemouth is a great area to live in and it is a much more relaxed way of life. I love my job and couldn’t be happier.
“I never thought I would move away from Southampton after university but I have been more than happy and still get back a couple of times a week for football.”