Proud Littlehampton Town boss: We were well beaten - but have much to celebrate
Mitch Hand admitted Littlehampton Town were beaten by the better side in losing 3-0 to Newport Pagnell Town in the FA Vase final - but said they could still celebrate a seasom when they had put the club and the town firmly on the map.
Joint boss Hand said the players were naturally disappointed not to have been at their best on the big stage, when they were roared on by 7,000 noisy Golds fans who stayed long after the final whistle to salute their heroes.
Hand said he had no complaints with the result but said getting to Wembley had been a celebration of a season in which they had won the SCFL premier divison to clinch promotion to the Isthmian League for the first time in their history and won the Peter Bentley Cup - with another cup final to come on Wednesday, when they face Saltdean in the RUR Cup final at Lancing.
Littlehampton were beaten by a superb strike by Kieran Barnes and two second half Ben Shepherd goals - one from the spot - on a day when player-joint boss George Gaskin was stretchered off after a nasty clash of heads.
See Hand's full post-match interview, when he answered questions from Sussexworld, the Littlehampton Gazette and others, in the video player above
Hand said his players could be proud of their efforts throughout the season and in reaching Wembley for a day they'd never forget, but had to accept they were beaten by the better side on the day.
He said some in the dressing room were downbeat that they had not turned in performances as good as they knew they could but others were more reflective of the achievement of getting to the final.
Hand also saluted Town's 'brilliant' fans who he said had given the team amazing backing all season and on the day - when they continued to back Golds even when the game was lost. For large parts of the afternoon they outsung the Newport Pagnell support.
Hand said they were waiting to hear more about how his management partner Gaskin was recovering from his injury but he said: "If anyone can take that sort of disappointing end to the day it's George."
He said the team must now focus on Wednesday's attempt to complete the treble - then start to to think about next season, when they'd be testing themselves at the higher league level.
And what about a return to Wembley? Hand admitted he'd love that one day but added: "I want to win next time."
Meanwhile the club tweeted an upbeat message about exciting times to come at the Sportsfield, saying: "This is not the end, this is just the beginning. Wembley is the start of a journey that will see us compete in the Isthmian League next season. We’ll face new teams, new adventures and will have the support of an incredible fan base. The future is very bright."