MIKE Finneran has his sights firmly set on making FA Cup memories with Canvey Island having cheered the Gulls on in the competition from the Park Lane stands during his childhood.

The Isthmian North outfit will do battle in an exciting local derby with Bowers & Pitsea in the third qualifying round tomorrow.

Canvey have a fine history in the FA Cup, having reached the third round before being knocked out by now-Premier League side Burnley in 2002 and, the following year, suffering a first round replay defeat to neighbours Southend United following a 1-1 draw at Roots Hall.

Finneran was in the stands supporting Canvey against the Shrimpers in the replay.

“Before moving to Canvey I was brought up in Islington so, unfortunately, I just missed the 2001/02 season when the Gulls reached the third round,” said the central defender.

“But I remember drawing away to Southend United and then the replay being in midweek at Park Lane very well.

“The game was televised on Sky Sports and I remember being in primary school talking to my friends about where to stand so I could get on TV!

“There was well over 2,500 fans in the ground and the atmosphere was great.

“Unfortunately, Canvey lost 3-2 after being 2-1 up.

“Those days were great and the same faces still go now.

“Mick Carlton, the ex-groundsman, was my neighbour and he used to take me to all the games whenever my dad wasn’t able to.

“I spent a lot of my childhood over at Park Lane and even helped out at times at training.”

Now Finneran, who joined from Grays Athletic in the summer, is eager to enjoy similar success while representing his boyhood club.

“The FA Cup is always a great competition to take part in and you always want to go as far as you can,” added Finneran.

“We have grafted to get through the last couple of rounds and it was a huge test of character to go and win both of the replays.

“I think being at home played a massive part as the Canvey Ultras behind the goal just don’t give up supporting the team and they deserve credit because they are a key factor of the cup run so far.

“You can see how much it means to the fans and our attendances are always increasing.

“There is a good vibe around the club at the moment. The fans and players are very close.”