PROUD Sholing skipper Byron Mason insists FA Vase victors Sholing deserve more respect for making Southampton and the Sydenhams Wessex League proud.
Such was the luke-warm reception the Boatmen got when they dropped out of the Southern League for financial reasons last summer that one of the favourite chants of the club’s fanatical supporters, The Ultras, is: “We are Sholing, super Sholing, no one likes us, we don’t care.”
But Mason, 27, and his teammate and brother Barry, 29, believe fellow Wessex clubs should stop making digs at league champions Sholing and embrace their achievement in becoming only the third SWL side to lift lower non-League’s equivalent of the FA Cup.
“We’ve done the whole of the Wessex League and the whole of Southampton proud,” said Byron.
“As much as teams didn’t want us in the league, they need to show us some respect.”
Brother Barry agreed: “It’s not about now, it’s about the future. We dropped back down to the Wessex because of finances. If we hadn’t, there probably wouldn’t have been a Sholing in ten years’ time. “It wasn’t to take the mickey out of the rest of the league.
“We had to take a step back to go forward and (runners-up) Alresford gave us a good run for our money in the title race.
“But some Wessex managers like to make it easy for themselves and they don’t want to change.”
The younger Mason, above, almost took an early bow from the final when he was scythed down by West Auckland’s Andrew Green.
The stretcher bearers readied themselves as he received lengthy treatment, but fortunately the skipper was able to continue.
“I was studded right down my knee,” he said. “I spoke to Diaps (manager Dave Diaper), he said give it another try and if I couldn’t run it off by half-time he’d take me off, but I was never coming off at Wembley unless my foot was hanging off!
“It’s been a long journey. Just getting to Wembley was massive and I can’t believe we’ve won.
“You can’t get much bigger than this and it was a massive honour to lift the trophy. I’ll remember it my whole life.”
Barry agreed: “I’m buzzing. It’s every footballer’s dream to win at the home of football.
“There were 600 teams in the Vase so does this make us No1 at this level? It’s a massive achievement.”
The Masons might have known it would have been their day when mum, Kim, their biggest fan, unexpectedly made the final.
The dedicated St Mary’s-based support worker was due to miss out on Wembley taking a wheelchair-bound and blind client away on her first holiday.
But she managed to get cover and travel up from the Bristol area in time for the biggest game of her sons’ lives.