TWELVE months after lifting the FA Vase at Wembley, David Coulson watched his Whitley Bay team-mates return to their field of dreams without him, and held back a tear.
On Sunday he means to make amends, and make history.
In 2009 Coulson captained the Seahorses to victory over Glossop North End, but the influential defender missed last year’s final against Wroxham with cruciate ligament damage sustained in the semi-final first-leg at Barwell.
Not normally the emotional type, he was unprepared last May for the wave of disappointment that engulfed him only as he wished his friends ‘Good luck’, and they vacated the Wembley changing rooms.
Though obviously keen to see them prevail, being uninvolved was a “massive blow” made harder by his participation 12 months earlier.
So having only recently returned to full fitness after a lengthy spell on the sidelines, Coulson is determined – in Sunday’s historic third straight final, against Leicestershire-based Midland Alliance champions Coalville Town – to relive his dream of two years ago, and banish the personal nightmare that followed.
“I’m really looking forward to this year, and the chance to make amends for last year,” Coulson said.
“It was good to see the boys go and win it last year, especially 6-1. But it wasn’t as good as the first year for me.
“After I got the injury I didn’t think it was going to be so bad. But then when I couldn’t get it right, and I missed the second leg of the semi final I went for a scan and found out it was my cruciate.
“I was absolutely gutted. I held my head high and let the lads do their stuff, but for me it was really hard.
“On the day I didn’t realise how tough it was going to be for me.
“I was a bit emotional before the lads went out, which is a shock for me. It’s not like me at all, but a lot of emotion came out.
“I think it just dawned on me that it was all about to happen and I wouldn’t be out there. The lads were going out and I wasn’t leading them. That was a massive blow for me.
“Everyone wants to play at Wembley. Luckily I already had done, but in a way that made it even harder.
“But once I got out and the first goal went in, when Chowy (Paul Chow) scored, I was all right after that.”
And all right now too.
“I feel good, I’ve got a lot of games under my belt now and I don’t have any niggles so I’m ready and raring to go,” Coulson added.
“Gareth Williams, Brian Smith and Darren Timmons are playing well at the minute so it’s going to be a hard decision for Chan (manager Ian Chandler) but hopefully I’ll get the nod. It’s absolutely fantastic to play at Wembley, it’s every boy’s dream.
“In football you never think you’re going to, then it just creeps up and then you’re there. The walk up the steps is amazing. I’ve looked back at the pictures and thought ‘Jesus, I actually did that’.
“Now we’re going again and it’s incredible. We’re obviously more experienced than they are but we’ve got a lot of new lads as well.
“They haven’t been there so we’ll help them through. The team spirit’s fantastic, the lads have come together well recently, squad rotation’s working well and we’re playing well.
“We want to go and win it and make history for Whitley Bay, and I just can’t wait to get out there and play, especially after last year.”
TICKETS for the final (priced £25 for adults, £15 for concessions) are available from the club’s Hillheads ground until tonight. For further details log onto www.whitleybayfc.com.