WHAT a journey this has been for Warrington Rylands.

It started with a goal from Matt Davidson four minutes into a first qualifying round match that saw them trail lower-ranked Daisy Hill and ends 245 days later with them stepping out at Wembley Stadium for the FA Vase Final against Binfield this afternoon.

They have overcome so much – penalty shoot-outs, sendings-off and even a global pandemic could not stop them – and getting to live the dream of any footballer and walk out onto one of world sport’s greatest arenas is a fitting reward.

Having watched their progress unfold over the past eight months, one cannot help but wonder if the stars are aligning for this group to give this town its first ever piece of major footballing silverware.

Warrington’s Wembley joy has been strictly reserved for rugby league in recent years and there has been a fair bit of it too, but now the football scene gets to enjoy a day in the sun.

Win or lose, that could be perhaps the greatest victory from this run – a huge boost in efforts to put the game in these parts on the map.

Warrington Town have had to carry that torch alone but that is no longer the case.

And after all, this week's confirmation of their 'upwards movement' into the Northern Premier League means Rylands are now just one division behind their neighbours and all at the club have stressed that Wembley is not the end of their story. It is just the beginning.

The financial support of owner Paul Stretford is a driving force, but manager Dave McNabb has cultivated a dressing room atmosphere and team unity that has been evident in abundance.

Assistant manager Fraser Ablett leads the celebrations after the semi-final win over Walsall Wood. Picture by Mike Boden

Assistant manager Fraser Ablett leads the celebrations after the semi-final win over Walsall Wood. Picture by Mike Boden

A combination of that plus the undoubted quality of the players pulling on the blue shirt has dragged them through so many hairy moments.

At both Jarrow and Shildon, they were one converted penalty away from crashing out before goalkeeper Graeme McCall’s penalty-saving prowess came to the fore.

When Kane Drummond was sent off in the early stages against Longridge, they fought through with 10 men and defended like lions – something that also punctuated injury-time scrambles against both Hebburn Town and Walsall Wood.

The most impressive stat? Since Tom Freeman cancelled out Daisy Hill’s opener back in September, they have not trailed in any of their Vase matches.

They have won convincingly, they have ground games out and they have come through three penalty shoot-outs – they arrive at Wembley Stadium knowing they can win every which way.

Having that kind of confidence and belief can do wonders on the biggest stage and it could well go a long way to making sure their coach leaves London with a shiny piece of silverware on board.

Is it written in the stars? We will know soon enough.