FC Halifax Town: Assistant boss Miller recalls his previous Wembley drama

Tommy Miller
Tommy Miller

Wembley drama is nothing new to Town’s assistant manager Tommy Miller, who has already experienced success on English football’s biggest stage.

He was part of the Huddersfield Town team that beat Sheffield United in the 2012 Football League One play-off final, but only after an epic penalty shoot-out that saw The Terriers finally triumph 8-7.

Miller was a central player in the afternoon’s drama, having a shot cleared off the line at the end of normal time and then being one of five players from both teams to miss the shoot-out’s first six penalties.

Reflecting on that day four years ago, Miller said: “I remember missing my penalty - my penalty record up until then was very good so I knew it was inevitable I was going to miss one.

“I think that was the hottest day I’ve ever played football on. It was absolutely scorching.

“I nearly scored in the 90th minute. That got cleared off the line so it went into extra-time then penalties, and we missed our first three - me, Alan Lee and Damien Johnson.

“But luckily we had a very good goalkeeper in Alex Smithies who was good at saving penalties.

“Steve Simonsen (Sheffield United goalkeeper) took his and missed and we won - if Simonsen had scored I was back-up again so you can imagine how nervy I was feeling!”

Miller says Wembley makes a magnificent stage to play football on, and is encouraging the Town side to relish the opportunity.

“I’ve been there to watch games before - I watched Sunderland in the Capital One Cup final against Man City and a few others,” he said.

“It’s a fantastic stadium. If any of the lads haven’t been there before - as soon as you see it, you realise how massive it is.

“It’s bigger than you think it’s going to be and it’s a fantastic experience, and even better when you win.

“They’ll be in awe of it. They’ll be lads who’ll be thinking ‘wow, I didn’t expect it to be like this’.

“It’ll be a great experience for them to play in a cup final, and hopefully win.

“The main thing is they enjoy it and give it their all.

“Obviously the league was disappointing with the way it finished.

“But that’s gone now, they’ve got to put that to one side, go out there and play for the shirt, which I’m sure they will.”

Miller admits Grimsby will provide a stern test for The Shaymen, but says the Halifax squad shouldn’t be overawed by their Football League opponents, who beat Forest Green in last Sunday’s National League play-off final.

Miller added: “Grimsby are a good team, that’s why they’ve reached the Football League.

“We’ve got battered at their place and then we played really well against them at home and beat them convincingly.

“It’ll be a tough game, there’s no doubt about it, but the lads should be looking forward to it.

“We’ve used a few different formations this season and I think we’ll decide how to play it tactically leading up to it.

“We’ll work on a few things and we’ll probably look at how we beat them at home and the formation we used.

“But we’ve got a few different options - a couple of players who can play in different positions, such as Jake Hibbs who can be right-back or central midfield.

“We’ve got room to manoeuvre and we’ll have a fully-fit squad to choose from as well, so the lads have to earn their right in training to get into that team.”