Bromley and Solihull out to make history at Wembley

Andy Woodman
Bromley manager Andy Woodman first took on the role with the intention of taking the club to the English Football League for the first time [Rex Features]

Bromley and Solihull Moors go head to head at Wembley for a place in the English Football League for the first time in both their histories.

For the winner, footballing institutions like Bradford City and Notts County await in League Two.

Solihull's promotion dream was agonizingly ended in a 2-1 defeat by Grimsby after extra time in the final two years ago. This will be the first of two visits to Wembley for them this week, with the FA Trophy Final against Gateshead to come on May 11.

While manager Andy Woodman has steered Bromley to their first ever National League play-off final and is one match away from achieving his goal of taking them to the EFL for the first time.

Woodman told BBC Radio London he turned down the chance to become Gillingham manager in 2022 when the Kent club were in League One because he knew his job at Bromley was not finished.

"It didn't feel right at the time because I felt I had to be loyal to this football club and the supporters," he said.

"In my mind, the achievement was always going to be to get this club into the Football League, that's what I set out to do.

"I haven't finished the job but it's closer than it's ever been and we need to embrace that 90 minutes on Sunday."

Bromley captain Byron Webster has enjoyed great success at the national stadium in his 20-year career, with a 100% winning record across three appearances there.

The 37-year-old won the League One play-off final with Yeovil Town in 2013 before achieving the same feat with Millwall in 2017.

And he was part of the Bromley team that beat Wrexham to win the FA Trophy two years ago.

He had been due to start in Millwall's League One play-off final defeat by Barnsley in 2016 but was injured in the warm-up.

"To lead the team hopefully into the Football League would be an achievement that would go down in history and it’s one that I’ve been looking forward to," Webster told BBC Sport.

“All the clubs I’ve been successful at, whether it’s Yeovil, Millwall or Bromley – they’re all the same. It’s a very family orientated club. It’s a close knit of staff on and off the pitch and just everyone’s in it together, everyone wants to help each other and it’s like a little-big family."

There has been one win each and a draw in the three meetings between the sides so far this season.

And Webster said Bromley are the underdogs in the final despite achieving a higher position in the league table.

“They’ve got a lot of bottle and they know how to win important games," he said. "I’m sure going into the Wembley game they’ll probably be favourites, they play some very nice football.

"They’ve got some good patterns of play, some good rotation with a lot of young and exciting players."

Bromley beat Altrincham 3-1 in the play-off semi-final at Hayes Lane, while Solihull beat Halifax 4-2 at home in the play-off eliminator before thrashing Barnet 4-0 at the Hive to book their place at Wembley.

'It's a dream come true'

Solihull player Jamey Osbourne in action
Jamey Osbourne (left) missed Solihull's loss to Grimsby Town at Wembley two years ago through injury [Getty Images]

Solihull captain Jamey Osbourne said walking out at Wembley will be a "dream come true" after he missed the loss to Grimsby two years ago through injury, and adds the aim is to add a sixth West Midlands team to the EFL.

"Walking out as captain at Wembley will be a real honour," he told BBC Radio WM. "I'm a local boy who's been here a few years now. It's a dream come true, hopefully we'll be able to look back on it as a successful season.

"There are lots of big clubs around us so attracting support is difficult. The club is ready for promotion hopefully we can do it on Sunday."

The 31-year-old paid tribute to Solihull chairman Darryl Eales, lauding him for his backing since the attacking midfielder returned to the club from Grimsby in 2018.

"One thing I've always spoken to the owner about is getting this club into the Football League. To have a chance of doing it with me being a part of it and leading the team is something I'm really looking forward to," Osbourne added.

"I feel like I owe a lot to the owner, he's put a lot of trust and faith in me. It's not just doing it for us as players and the community, it is for him as well."

Midfielder Joe Sbarra, 24, says playing twice at Wembley in a week is "remarkable" and admitted that getting the win now is more important after the loss to Grimsby.

"Not every player can play at Wembley so to play twice in one week is quite remarkable. It's about getting the win now and making amends for two years ago,” he said.

"You know what it meant to people and what they went through; it gives you the extra motivation to push and try and get the right result. Hopefully we can make our memories a little bit better."

Sbarra returned to action in December after a heart issue over the summer, and said he is determined to end a difficult campaign in the best way possible.

"I don't think I'm quite [at my best] yet; it takes more out of you than you think. I'm just trying to do my best for the team.

"A goal at Wembley would be lovely. It was tough - I'm used to being such a bubbly character but I wasn't allowed to do much; it makes these moments a bit better because you've been through the struggles.

"I didn't know if I would play again; I didn't have a clue what was happening. To win at Wembley would be really good way to end to a tough season personally."