TOM Killick makes no apology for being envious.
Had it not been for Killick, Alex Pike’s decorated curriculum vitae in non-league management could have read very differently.
A key figure in Wimborne Town’s 1992 FA Vase triumph under Pike, Killick concedes his former boss’s fairytale return to Wembley is “simply astounding”.
Pike, who lives near Burley, will bridge a 22-year gap when he takes charge of Gosport Borough in Sunday’s FA Trophy final against Cambridge United.
In similar fashion to 1992 when Killick netted twice in Wimborne’s 5-3 win over holders Guiseley, Conference South Gosport will start as huge underdogs against the Conference high-fliers.
However, as Poole Town boss Killick – a litigation executive by profession – would testify, there is plenty of evidence to suggest another slaying could well be on the cards.
Killick told the Daily Echo: “It is difficult to get your head round the extent of the achievement, particularly when you had all the full-time clubs from the Conference in the competition. It is exceptional and typical of Alex Pike.
“Reaching the final of the FA Vase with Wimborne was one thing, but getting to the final of the FA Trophy with Gosport has taken things to a different level for Alex. I really don’t know how he does it and I don’t mean that in a critical way.
"It probably sounds like sour grapes now, but they beat us in a play-off final a couple of years ago and we were the better team. They were inferior to us but found a way to win that game.
“I understand it was the same last year when they won the Southern League play-off final. They were probably the worst team in the play-offs but ended up winning promotion.
"People criticise Alex but you can’t argue with his success. It is phenomenal and he deserves unbelievable credit for what he has done.”
Since taking the reins at his hometown club in December 2005, Pike, who has been dubbed ‘the Mourinho of non-league management’, has masterminded three promotions, guiding Gosport from the Wessex League to Conference South.
Killick, who has taken Poole from the Wessex League to the Southern Premier, added: “People will probably say Alex is not one of those managers who exudes tactical acumen and awareness and he gets criticised for that, probably more within the game and internally at his clubs.
“But he brings in players, gets them producing and gets positive results. When it comes to the nitty-gritty, he succeeds and is a winner.
“When I look back at my managerial history, I have had a lot of failures. I have lost on the big occasions like the FA Vase semi-final and a play-off final and Alex hasn’t done that so I am full of admiration for him.
“His is an unorthodox tale of success and I don’t mean that negatively. However he has done it, he has done it and his record is outstanding.
“As a manager, I think you have to be judged on the big moments in your career and there is a fine line between success and failure.
"I have fallen on the wrong side of the line and Alex always does the opposite. That is something I take my hat off to him for and everybody at Poole Town wishes him and Gosport Borough the best of luck in the final.”