WHEN Jack Cawley takes to the hallowed Wembley turf on Monday, he will be following in his father’s footsteps – and realising a lifelong dream.

The 28-year-old is preparing to play in a final at the famous venue, almost 24 years to the day since Colchester United hero Peter Cawley featured for the U’s in their Football League Trophy showpiece against Carlisle United.

Nearly a quarter of a century on, playing for Concord Rangers in their FA Trophy Final against Harrogate Town on Monday will be the biggest game of Jack’s career - and it promises to be a poignant moment for the defender.

“Growing up, it’s been my dream just to try and live in my Dad’s footsteps,” he said.

“I see how the people around Colchester still hold him in high respect and a lot of people tell him he’s their hero, so growing up with that I’ve always wanted to live in his footsteps.

“To play at Wembley will tick off a childhood dream.

“It’ll be emotional as well as my Mum would have been over the moon, seeing me play at Wembley, so it’ll definitely be an emotional day.

“My Dad is my best mate so seeing everything he’s done in football and what he’s come through, it’s unbelievable.

“I look up to him, so playing at Wembley knowing that’s what he did and that’s what I’m going to be doing is going to be an unbelievable feeling.”


Peter Cawley made more than 200 league and cup appearances in Colchester’s colours, between 1992 and 1998.

In the same season he played in the Football League Trophy Final at Wembley which the U's lost on penalties to Carlisle, the centre-back featured in their play-off semi-final defeat.

The following year, he helped Colchester secure promotion through the play-offs under Steve Wignall, although he missed the final win over Torquay United.

Prior to playing for Colchester, the defender had previously played at Wembley in the 1988 Charity Shield for Wimbledon, against Liverpool.

“I don’t remember much about when Dad played at the old Wembley but my lifelong best friend does and remembers me being on the steps there, where I was about seven or eight,” said former Stanway Rovers player Jack, who has lived in Colchester for almost his entire life.

“My dad gives me advice; he’s my biggest critic but that’s what fathers are for.

“He tells me to go out there, play my game, do what I do best and I’ll be alright.

“I thrive on the big occasions so something like that, I think I should be alright with.”

Jack has been playing his football in the National League Premier with Wealdstone, this season.

But having played his part in Concord’s FA Trophy run last season, he is currently on loan at the National League South outfit – and looking forward to a showpiece final.

“It’s unreal – it’s a dream come true, to be fair,” said the former St Benedict’s Catholic College student.

“We had a discussion when it got announced that they were going to be playing at Wembley.

“Thankfully, they allowed me to go on an emergency 28-day loan and I’m able to play, so I can’t wait.

“I played my part in it, so it’s good to get to Wembley.

“This will be by far the biggest game of my career so far.

“My fitness at the moment is the best that it’s probably ever been and I’m able to go there fully fit.

“Unfortunately for Concord, they haven’t played for a few months but they’ve been back for over a month now getting fit, so their fitness will still be OK.

“This season has been challenging.

“The National prem is a tough league – it’s very physical and it demands a lot from your fitness.

“At the beginning of the season at Wealdstone, the previous manager wasn’t playing me but he left and the assistant took charge and I started playing regularly.

“Because of the circumstances with Covid and stuff, when we knew we couldn’t get promoted or relegated the club had to furlough a few players.

“That made it tough for us, playing the likes of Hartlepool and Notts County who have got big budgets whereas we’re little old Wealdstone who have had to furlough players, so it was quite an unfair advantage.

“There are some big old school Football League clubs in that division now but Wealdstone are a good club and they do things right and are as professional as they can be – that’s why they’re at that level.

“It’s been tough but I’ve enjoyed every moment of it.”


Concord will take on a Harrogate Town side who have impressed in their first-ever season in the Football League.

The North Yorkshire outfit lie 17th in the table, having already secured their League Two status for another season but Jack believes the Beach Boys will relish their underdog tag.

“I think it can play to our advantage,” said the former Maldon and Tiptree and Heybridge Swifts defender.

“If you look at every round that we’ve played in, we have been underdogs at Concord and it’s good.

“Harrogate are a League Two club and they’re professional, so I don’t think they’ll doubt us.

“They might think that because we’re a Conference South side it’ll be an easy ride but listen, it’ll be tough either way – we’re just looking forward to the experience.

“I’ve been told my whole career that I’m never going to be good enough but I’ve thrived on that.

“To get to Wembley knowing that I’ve been told so many times ‘you’re not good enough for this team’ has given me that extra strength to push on because I’ve always rated myself and my Dad’s always told me just to keep going.

“Those people will definitely be in the back of my head, on Monday.”

So can Concord spring a surprise on Monday and lift the trophy?

Jack added: “We all back ourselves – we have that belief and confidence.

“Anything can happen and everyone has got to be on their game and hopefully, as big underdogs we can go and win it.”