Jon is keen to end his play-off jinx
YAXLEY man Jon Challinor bids to become a Football League player for the first time at the age of 31 tomorrow by winning at Wembley for the second successive weekend.
Challinor will line up for York City in their Blue Square Premier Division playoff final against Luton Town in front of an expected 50,000 crowd.
It would be a daunting experience for players at a much higher level, but not for Challinor who has made more appearances at the national stadium than most, including one last Saturday when York beat Newport 2-0 in the FA Trophy Final.
That result broke Challinor’s Wembley jinx. He now wants to end his play-off hoodoo which has seen failure in four previous attempts with three different clubs.
“It’s about time I won a play-off,” Challinor, who feared his career was coming to an end after starting the current season at financially-stricken Kettering Town, announced. “I finally managed to be on the winning side at Wembley and now it would cap a great season if I could finally get to the Football League.
“It would be an amazing feeling especially as I felt I was heading for the scrapheap at the start of the season. I’ve come back from nowhere and I owe York an awful lot.
“Helping them win would pay them back and I can confirm that it’s a lot better walking up those Wembley steps as a winner.
“But we have a tough game on our hands. People will probably class us as favourites as we finished above Luton in the league and we have won three and drawn one of our four games with them this season.
“But Luton are a big club and their support is crazy. When we beat them in the FA Trophy semi-final there were 7,000 of them creating an amazing atmosphere at Kenilworth Road and there could be 40,000 of them at Wembley.
“Mind you I shouldn’t complain about playing in front of 50,000 at Wembley. It’s going to be a great occasion.”
Challinor was raised in Folksworth, but moved to Yaxley when he signed for Rushden & Diamonds as a trainee in 1999. In a nomadic non-league career he’s also played for Cambridge City, St Albans, Aldershot, Exeter, Cambridge United, Forest Green, Mansfield, Brackley, Newport and Kettering.
Challinor has lost in three play-off finals. He was in an Aldershot team beaten by Shrewsbury at the Britannia Stadium Stoke in 2004 and he played for Exeter (v Morecambe, 2007) and Cambridge (v Torquay, 2009) in losing causes at Wembley.
He also lost in the play-off semi-finals to Carlisle with Aldershot in 2005.
Among Challinor’s opponents tomorrow will be former Posh goalkeeper Mark Tyler who still lives in Peterborough.
BACK AT WEMBLEY: Jon Challinor.