Spence siblings complete Wembley dream as Hornchurch skipper Lewwis follows in Chelsea star Drew’s footsteps

Webley Stadium may only sit 12 miles from Lambeth’s Archbishop’s Park but it felt a world away when Lewwis and Drew Spence were enjoying their childhood kickabouts.

Come 4.15pm on Saturday afternoon, however, both siblings will have graced the famous turf under the Arch – a prospect the captain of FA Trophy giant-killers Hornchurch can scarcely get his head around.

Lewwis Spence, 33, has watched his sister, five years his junior, play in three Women’s FA Cup finals for Chelsea at the home of English football and the former Crystal Palace midfielder had shelved hopes of one day following in her footsteps.

That was until the seventh-tier Urchins set off on a remarkable Trophy run which has seen them claim six consecutive higher-division scalps, including Darlington and Notts County, to stand 90 minutes away from silverware.

Lewwis Spence says Saturday's FA Trophy semi-final is the 'biggest one-off game' of his career
Lewwis Spence says Saturday’s FA Trophy semi-final is the ‘biggest one-off game’ of his career

Hereford lie in wait in the final but Spence is confident his side have one more shock left in them and has made use of the Wembley expertise close to home – some of which has come in the form of typically blunt sibling advice.

“She’s told me not to be a loser at Wembley,” Spence said.

“Drew has seen both sides of it and we want to remember winning at Wembley rather than just playing there. That’s been a huge focus ever since we knocked out Notts County.

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“If you’d told us when we were 15 and 10 we’d both play at Wembley, we’d have laughed and said ‘no way’.

“We were lucky, growing up in London, to have a garden and we were always active kids – we’d have many a game of football in Archbishop’s Park and Bedlam Park. I probably realised Drew’s potential when it was my turn to go in goal.

“She’s got herself some Hornchurch merchandise for Saturday and there will be a big Spence contingent there, including my four-year-old son Cody – he hasn’t taken his Hornchurch shirt off recently so we’ll have to give that a wash before the big day!

“I know mum and dad are super proud of both of us. Everyone is so excited and that will only grow if we can get the win.”

A young Lewwis and Drew Spence playing football in their South London garden
A young Lewwis and Drew Spence playing football in their South London garden

May has already been a big month for the Spence family, with Drew having helped Chelsea wrap up the WSL title before watching on from the bench as Barcelona ruthlessly ended the Blues’ Champions League dreams in last weekend’s final.

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The focus now switches to Lewwis and his Pitching In Isthmian League Premier Division side, who are enjoying a cup run to savour despite not having played a league match since November.

Boss Mark Stimson has won the competition four times across his playing and managerial career, most recently with Stevenage in 2007, but the experience of walking out at the home of English football will be a new one for the Hornchurch squad.

Their Wembley preparations were given a shot in the arm by a visit from Pitching In ambassador Stuart Pearce, who dropped into an Urchins training session to pass on his words of wisdom, while both sides will be backed by 3,000 supporters on Saturday.

Hornchurch skipper Lewwis Spence pictured with Stuart Pearce at the former England left-back's surprise visit to the FA Trophy giant-killers ahead of Saturday's final.
Former professional footballer and current West Ham United coach, Stuart Pearce MBE, surprises players at Hornchurch FC ahead of their FA Trophy final at Wembley on May 22nd, as part of the Entain – Pitching In initiative. Pitching In is project designed to support and promote grassroots sports. PHOTO: Harry O’Reilly/Beat Media

“It will be the biggest crowd a lot of our boys have played in front of and we are all itching to get out there,” Spence said.

“A win at Wembley would be massive for the whole community and this run has brought such a buzz to everyone.

“I had spells of success in the [professional] game when I was younger but possibly took it for granted. I’ve had my best years in non-league and I’m so proud to lead this group.

“These are memories we’ll have with us for the rest of our lives and we want to go down in history.”

Ladbrokes, with the support of its owner Entain, has launched a multi-million pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports. For more details see: https://entaingroup.com/sustainability/pitching-in/

Source by Football London

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