Romford FC players celebrate after reaching this season's FA Vase final at Wembley

Romford FC siblings prepare for historic Wembley trip

From the window of his third floor office building, Jamie Hursit can see it.

The distinctive lattice arch curving unmistakably above the London skyline like some grand beacon. Wembley Stadium: the pinnacle of English football and a stage only a very select few have ever graced.

But Hursit, a 28-year-old accountant, will soon be able to add his name to that exclusive list. 

On 11 May, Jamie will walk out onto hallowed Wembley turf for Romford FC of the Essex Senior League Premier Division.

They will compete in the final of this season’s FA Vase: a nationwide knockout competition comprising teams from steps nine and ten of the footballing pyramid and one of the most coveted prizes in the non-league game.

It was Jamie’s penalty in the semi-final second-leg shootout against Lincoln United that secured Romford’s first trip to Wembley in 75 years.

Standing in their way of a historical cup win are Great Wakering Rovers, who finished just three places below The Boro in the league and a side Hursit and co. have already come up against twice this season.

A DATE WITH DESTINY: Jamie Hursit (left) is mobbed by teammates after scoring the penalty that took Romford to Wembley (Credit: Bob Knightley)

And while the part-timers from east London will be facing off against a recognisable foe, full-back Jamie will be doing so alongside a familiar face.

Among his Romford teammates is younger brother Lee, a central midfielder 13 months his junior.

A gardener of eight years, Lee might prefer the great outdoors to the inside of a meeting room but the siblings have been united in a shared love of football for as long as they can remember.

And so having the chance to play together in one of the most iconic stadiums in the world, to the Hursit brothers, feels like a fairytale.

Jamie said: “It’s every footballer’s dream to play at Wembley.

“It still hasn’t really sunk in, if I’m being honest.

“If you’d have said when we were playing together aged five that one day we’re going to be playing in the same team together at Wembley, I wouldn’t have believed it.”

Lee added: “I’m over the moon, I’m ecstatic.

“How many opportunities do you get to play at Wembley?”

The answer, as it happens, is two.

In 2018, Lee was part of the Hashtag United team that competed at The Wembley Cup, a charity tournament consisting largely of YouTube content creators and ex-professionals that was held on the main pitch.

Saturday’s contest, however, offers an altogether different prospect.

A chance to immortalise the Hursit name into the annals of Romford folklore.

Victory for The Boro would also see siblings from the same team lift the FA Vase for a second consecutive season, following the triumph of Ascot United’s Alfie and Harry Grant last term.

But while he admitted apprehension will be hard to shake in the build up, Jamie insisted he would enjoy every moment of what will be a momentous day for the club.

He said: “If I said I didn’t have nerves I’d be lying, it’s a nervous time.

“A lot is on the line so you do feel like you have a weight on your shoulders.”

Despite the pressure, Jamie believes the match will be great for the club.

He said: “It’s been a long time since they’ve had an achievement like this.

So it’s going to mean the world to everyone. The fans, the staff, the players.”

Despite suffering heartbreak in the promotion play-off final on Monday, Lee believes the team’s success on the pitch this season are the fruits of the brotherly bond his teammates have forged off it.

He said: “You can have good players and good management.”

“But the togetherness in the team has to be good.

“You have to be good friends as well as teammates, that’s true of any team sport.

“You can have individual excellence but you need that unity and that do-or-die attitude for each other.

“I think we’ve got that and I think that’s a big part of why we are where we are now.”

Once Saturday afternoon rolls around, however, the prophecy of a late family member led Lee to admit that putting the emotion to one side will be difficult.

He revealed: “Before our Grandad passed away, he said that one day me and Jamie would play together at Wembley.”

“Then when we won the semi-final, Jamie text me later that evening to say how proud he was of us.

“And I messaged back telling him what Grandad had said and we were both getting a bit teary.

“So it will be an emotional day but we know he will be there with us.”

MIDFIELD MAESTRO: Lee Hursit will be preparing for his second visit to Wembley (Credit: Bob Knightley)

The Hursit family will be well represented both on the field and in the stands. Older brother Sam, largely indifferent about football, will be there in support, along with several family members flying in from abroad especially for the game.

Saturday will therefore be a family affair for the Hursits in more ways than one. But for the two taking to the pitch in Romford colours, they would not want to share the moment with anyone else.

Lee said: “We’re not just brothers, we’re best friends.”

“If I do something wrong, Jamie’s the first to have a go at me – being his brother makes it easier for him to moan at me.

“But I couldn’t ask for anyone better to play with and to do it on the biggest stage, there’s nothing better than that.”

It’s a sentiment that Jamie proudly shares, adding: “To win it with my brother would be the cherry on top.

“To be able to have that is really quite a special thing.”

Feature image credit: Bob Knightley

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