ROAR TO WEM­B­LEY JUST LIKE MY TIGERS Atkin­son aims to join Hull with fi­nal ap­pear­ance

The Football League Paper - - BIG INTERVIEW - By Jamie Holt

WILL ATKIN­SON has next Satur­day marked firmly in his diary – not only could the Southend mid­fielder be cel­e­brat­ing his own re­turn to Wem­b­ley but he’ll be cheer­ing on his beloved Hull City in the FA Cup fi­nal.

Born and raised in Bev­er­ley – less than ten miles north of Hull – Atkin­son grew up watch­ing the Tigers with dad, Kevin, at the old Booth­ferry Park.

The quaint­ness of their for­mer 15,000-ca­pac­ity home – which be­came a Kwik Save su­per­mar­ket be­fore be­ing de­mol­ished com­pletely in 2011 – is about as far re­moved as you can get from the plush new Wem­b­ley, but that’s where Atkin­son’s fo­cus for the next week will be.

First up for the Blues is the first leg of their League Two play-off semi-fi­nal against Bur­ton to­day, fol­lowed by the re­turn fix­ture at Roots Hall at mid­day next Satur­day.

It will be a race against time for the 25-year-old, but he’s hop­ing to book his place in the fi­nal and catch his boy­hood side take on Ar­se­nal at 5pm.

Re­demp­tion

“I’m a Hull fan but we play on the same day as Hull in the FA Cup fi­nal so I’ll be fully fo­cussed on our game,” said Atkin­son, who was re­leased by Hull in 2012 af­ter fail­ing to make the grade.

“I’ll try to catch a bit of the game on tele­vi­sion though and hope­fully I’ll be cel­e­brat­ing get­ting through to an­other play-off fi­nal.

“I used to go and watch Hull quite reg­u­larly at Booth­ferry Park and then the KC Sta­dium, so I’ve got fond mem­o­ries of be­ing there.

“I started off go­ing with my dad and then went with friends. It could be a dou­ble cel­e­bra­tion that day and hope­fully it is.”

Wem­b­ley Way is be­com­ing a well-trod­den path for Atkin­son – if he makes it past the Brew­ers it will be his third ap­pear­ance in just over a year af­ter his two trips with Brad­ford last sea­son.

By his own ad­mis­sion, the Ban­tams’ 5-0 League Cup hu­mil­i­a­tion by Swansea left him reel­ing, but there was re­demp­tion in the play- offs against Northamp­ton.

And Atkin­son is hop­ing to draw on both ex­pe­ri­ences to help Southend see off the Brew­ers.

“Get­ting to Wem­b­ley last year with Brad­ford and com­ing out on top in the play­offs was a great ex­pe­ri­ence,” he added.

“A lot of the other lads from Southend have been to Wem­b­ley last year in the Johnstone’s Paint Tro­phy, so we’ve got quite a bit of expe-

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

ON THE BALL: Will Atkin­son evades a tackle from Mill­wall’s Jack Hunt and, in­set, in his Hull City days

KEY MAN BILLY KEE Bur­ton

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