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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

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‘My God, what have we done?’

TWELVE months ago Everton fan Paul Jones sat among 89,000 supporters at Wembley and watched Chelsea skipper John Terry lift aloft the FA Cup.

On Saturday, Barrow’s very own lionheart captain walked those same 107 steps and proudly thrust high the non-league equivalent of the most famous club silverware in English football.

It was, without a doubt, the most fitting way to end 134 epic minutes of thrilling FA Trophy final action. Although not from the town, no-nonsense defender Jones, who turns 32 next month, is Barrow AFC through-and through. Cut him open and he would bleed Bluebirds blood. Now four seasons into in his second spell at the club he loves, Jones has finally achieved his lifelong football dream of leading Barrow to glory at Wembley. Holker Street’s longest-serving player, for whom Saturday’s final was a 272nd AFC appearance, said: “I’ve dreamt a lot of times about walking up those steps and getting the trophy, but I’ve kept that quiet.

“It probably still hasn’t sunk in yet. It might not be till next week that I’ll sit down, watch the game back on the TV, and probably think ‘oh my God, what have we just done?’ And to do it against the team that has just won the Conference by a long way, well, that makes it even better.

“It’s just brilliant. We played really well on the day, and definitely deserved it. They (Stevenage) can have no complaints, we deserved it.

“When it went into-extra-time you start thinking ‘will it go to penalties’ and, as often happens at Wembley, ‘will the better team lose out.’ But then Jason scored and we went on to win it.

“Everything was great. Lee McEvilly scoring and silencing people, Jason, the local lad, getting the winner, me getting the chance to lead the lads up the steps and lift the trophy and then later getting my kids out on the pitch. It was just brilliant.”

Asked if he shed a tear or two at the final whistle, Jones laughed: “I managed to keep it together. I think I was a bit closer to welling up when we came into the ground and certain songs were playing. We were confident coming into the stadium, but without being cocky. Maybe Stevenage had said a few things previously that made us want to go out there and put a real show on – and we certainly did that.”

The Barrow skipper defended star midfielder Robin Hulbert, who was sent off for elbowing Charlie Griffin. Stevenage, who won the FA Trophy in both 2007 and 2009, also had midfielder David Bridges red-carded following a first half tackle on Andy Bond.

Jones said: “Maybe they were two 50/50 balls, I don’t know. Maybe the first one with Bondy, yeah, their lad (Bridges) has jumped in a bit, but I thought it maybe should have been a booking, I’d have preferred the lad to stay on the pitch.

“And then with Robin, he’s put his arm up at the last split second to protect himself. There was no malice in it at all. He’s let no-one down and got up the steps to get the winners’ medal he deserved.”

Have your say

Well done AFC, we're behind you all the way!

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