England Fire Services’ Player of the Year Phill Weavers hoping for national cup success with the Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service
Having been named the England Fire Services’ Player of the Year, Phill Weavers now has his sights set on helping the Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service to reach a couple of national cup finals.
Suffolk, who including Mildenhall Town midfielder Weavers have supplied four players for the England team, only reformed this season after lapsing for more than a decade.
And in helping the side to reach the semi-finals of both the English Open Age KO Cup and the British Open Age KO Cup, Weavers has also produced the goods on a national level.
It was not to be in terms of silverware after last week’s 3-2 defeat to Scotland, but he is nevertheless proud to have received some individual recognition.
“We lost to Scotland and so it was a little bit of a damp squib, but I am still chuffed and proud to have been named Player of the Year,” he said.
“There are no trials or anything, people just get their names put forward and selection comes from that. It is still a very good set up and I have managed to play in every game this year.”
Today, Weavers will be back in action for Suffolk when they travel to Merseyside FRS for a place in the final of the English Open Cup (2pm).
By chance, Merseyside also stand in Suffolk’s way of advancing into the final of the British Open Cup, with the last four clash set to take place at AFC Sudbury on March 19 (2pm).
Compared to most in the competition, Suffolk have a small pool of players to select from, but Weavers also believes that this has worked to the squad’s advantage.
“If not the smallest, we have one of the smallest brigades in the country,” said Weavers, who is stationed at Bury St Edmunds.
“When you look at the likes of Merseyside and Greater Manchester, these are huge forces. London has 6,000 firefighters and we probably do not have 600. That really puts into perspective the size of our achievement getting this far.
“The majority of our players are an on-call brigade and I think that holds us in good stead. It means we can still play to a good level of football and we have got a lot that play in the Thurlow Nunn League.
“If the lads were full time it would be a struggle to play football at that high of a level.”
Weavers also credits the professional environment that has been created as a major reason behind Suffolk’s success.
Before joining Mildenhall, Weavers played for the likes of Bury Town and Stowmarket Town, but believes those in charge have built as good a set up as he has previously experienced.
“Dave Collins (area commander), Paul Goodman (manager) and Nigel Vincent (assistant) have been fantastic in the way they have run things,” said Weavers.
“It is as good as any club I have played for and we want for nothing. Their enthusiasm is infectious and it makes the lads want to do well.
“We are put up in hotels before games and that means we are best prepared. AFC Sudbury have also been great letting us play games there and Ipswich Town have allowed us to train at their facility – we could not have asked for more.
“It brings people from across the fire service together and that can only be a good thing.”
At club level, Weavers was part of a Mildenhall team that were thrashed 4-0 by Kirkley & Pakefield on Saturday.
It was somewhat of a shock result given that Mildenhall made the trip on a run of just one Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division defeat in their previous nine games, while during that time the hosts had won only once.
Nevertheless, Weavers is chalking it down as a bad day at the office and is backing Ricky Cornish’s team to bounce back quickly, starting with Saturday’s home game against Norwich United (3pm).
“Saturday was awful, probably the worst we have played all season,” he said.
“Sometimes you get games like that. We have a good side and when you are on a good run these things happen. Nothing really went for us but there is no worry and I am sure we will go and put it right soon.
“Norwich beat us in the cup recently (4-1) but I felt the scoreline did not reflect the game. Hopefully we can put that right."