WHEN Dave McNabb joined Warrington Rylands a little under three years ago, he never envisaged it would come to this.

His first game in charge was a 5-1 win at Ellesmere Rangers back in August 2018 but now, he is preparing to lead his side out at Wembley Stadium.

A dream come true for players and managers the world over and rather than try and downplay the occasion, McNabb wants his players to embrace it.

Come 2.30pm this afternoon, he hopes this approach will lead to them lifting the FA Vase and bringing it back to Warrington for the first time.

The Rylands team celebrate reaching Wembley. Picture by Mike Boden

The Rylands team celebrate reaching Wembley. Picture by Mike Boden

“It would mean the world,” he told the Guardian.

“It’s a dream come true for every young kid to play at Wembley.

“To lead the team out – I still can’t quite get my head round it.

“I still think somebody is going to wake me up and tell me it was all a dream.

“I’ve been trying to say to the players to take every little thing in – whether it’s the overnight stays, the nice hotels, even just the changing rooms.

“It’s strange trying to find the balance – we’re not used to travelling down the day before the game but we’re doing it because we want it to be special.

“We’re staying at a really good hotel as we want them to feel like a professional footballer for the weekend.

“We’ve tried to make it feel as big as possible but when it comes down to training, we’ll try and keep it largely the same.”

The full Rylands squad have travelled down to London to be part of the experience, which included a training session at Derby County’s Moor Farm training ground yesterday.

For a handful of players, though, that will be as close as they get to playing.

Only 18 can be picked for the matchday squad and the crushing conversations have already been had with the unlucky few that will miss out.

However, McNabb is keen to stress they are as big a part of the team effort as the players that will step out onto the hallowed turf.

“It’s really tough – we’ve got 25 in the group and we’ve needed that many at times this year. There’s been people isolating, injured and whatever else,” he said.

“The performances over the past few weeks have shaped what we’re going to be doing.

“We’re in a good place, everyone’s fit which makes it a little bit harder but it’s our job to make those tough decisions.

“We’ll go with what we think is right – there’s no guarantee we’ll get it right but we’ll base it on what we think and where we think we can be effective.

“Those conversations were hard to explain the reasons why. It’s not a nice thing to have to do but you can only explain your thought processes and opinions.

“We’ve had them already, the lads know if they’re in the squad or not but everyone has travelled down with us regardless.

“We couldn’t do an 11v11 practice without them, to work on shape and things like that.

“It’s not just that as well, we want them to act as a calming influence.

“There’s a little bit less pressure on them so hopefully they can help the players settle into the game a bit faster.”

Of course, Blues are not the only team for whom today will be special.

Like them, opponents Binfield have scratched and clawed their way through the rounds to reach Wembley for the first time in their history.

> Kings of the road and shoot-out masters – a closer look at Warrington Rylands' Wembley opponents

It may well be cautious and nervy, but McNabb is under no illusions of the task that awaits his side.

“They are a really good attacking team,” he said of the Moles.

“They like to get the ball down, get it wide and get crosses into the box.

“We know how tough it’s going to be – you don’t get to the final without being a good side.

“I just think it will be a really good occasion. Both teams will try and play good football which will help.

“Obviously, there will be nerves and an element of people not wanting to make mistakes, which might make it a bit more cautious than normal.

“We know we’re in for the game of our lives.”