McNulty: Captain Jennings will lift trophy if Tranmere win

Every footballer grows up dreaming of climbing the Wembley steps to lift a trophy.

Tranmere defender Steve McNulty is no different, and he is relishing his first trip to the national stadium this weekend.

Yet he has relinquished the opportunity to raise the play-off cup, should they beat Forest Green on Sunday.

The 33-year old has captained Rovers for much of the season because club skipper Steve Jennings has suffered with knee and back problems.

The midfielder will be absent again at Wembley, but McNulty says it is only right that he gets the honour – if Tranmere come out on top.

“Jenno is the club captain,” he said.

“I’d much rather have him in the team rather than out injured.

“Me and him have had a quiet conversation about it, and it’s only right that he goes and lifts the cup.

“I wouldn’t take being club captain away from him.

“He wasn’t too happy about it, but that’s the way it is. If we do win it, he deserves it.”

McNulty joined Tranmere from Luton nearly 18-months ago, but it has not always been plain sailing.

He would be the first to admit it took him sometime to get going in a Rovers shirt, with his arrival coinciding with a run of just one win in seven games.

Eventually, though, the former Liverpool schoolboy found his feet, and he has become a firm fan favourite.

Nearly every touch of the ball is greeted by a roar of “Steve” from the crowd, and he put in too mammoth performances in the semi-finals as Rovers beat Aldershot.

He is keen to remind his teammates though that nothing has been won yet.

“We’ve only done half the job getting there,” he continued.

“Obviously it’s going to be a great occasion on the day, but I don’t think we’ll be able to enjoy it unless we win.

“We’ve just got to prepare ourselves as best we can for the game and hopefully do the job.

“Everyone has come here to get this club back into the Football League. That’s where it deserves to be.

“It’s been my goal since I arrived and we’re one game away from doing that.

“I’ve been steady all season I think. I’m not a game winner. I just go out there and try and give 110% every time I put the shirt on.

“Sometimes that isn’t good enough, but form throughout the whole season means nothing now.”

Tranmere should know their opponents pretty well.

It is little more than a month since Forest Green made the trip to Prenton Park, and left with all three points after a 1-0 win.

Any spectator at the ground that evening would tell you how harsh a result that was for the hosts, who dominated for long spells.

Perhaps there is a little extra pressure on Mark Cooper’s side this time round, given they lost last year’s play-off final to Grimsby.

McNulty though is sure that has no baring on Sunday’s result.

“This is a one off game at Wembley now,” he insists.

“Whoever turns up on the day will win and get the prize.

“When they won at our place last month, it was a smash and grab. But their manager might turn round and say they did a job on us.

“We’ll be preparing ourselves right, we’ll go there Sunday and give our all and hopefully it’s good enough.

“I don’t know how many players were there last season who are going back this season.

“I don’t know whether they’ll have more experience than any of our players.

“But it’s a one off game to win a big prize.”

The defender has had a long and illustrious career in the Non League system, winning several individual accolades as well as a handful of promotions.

But like so many in the Tranmere squad, he will be making his debut at Wembley this weekend.

He is determined to enjoy the occasion, but is equally as keen not to be overawed by it.

“This is the first time I’ll have ever been to Wembley,” he added.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to win the league with Luton and Fleetwood, but I’ve never played in a play-off final there.

“It’s exciting, but I don’t know what to expect.

“I’m relaxed at the moment. The closer it gets, I think there’ll be more nerves and butterflies in my tummy.

“But it’s just important that we play the game and not the occasion.

“We need to turn up, do everything right and make sure we give a good account of ourselves.

“These times don’t come along very often in your career.

“So it is very important that we enjoy the day and the occasion, but we can’t take our mind off the fact that we’ve still got a job to do when we get there.”

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