Defender Michael Raynes on awards and on things getting excitingWhen Michael Raynes bagged the winner against Hartlepool with just ten minutes left to play way back in October he had no idea his header would go on to be voted as the CUSC London Branch Champagne Moment of the Season.
But he was quick to point out just after receiving his award that if the voting had been held back until after the Exeter game last weekend he’d probably have faced a bit of stiff competition.
“I think if the awards ceremony had been even a week later Jamie Proctor might have got it, they just didn’t have time to print his name on it!” he insisted. “Awards like this are important and I don’t think I’ve ever seen Nicky [Adams] so happy - or so red! His old man is here as well and stuff like that makes it a special night.
“It’s nice for everyone to come together to look at what we’ve achieved but it isn’t over for us yet. We’re now going into a really exciting part of the season.”
Looking back at what has been a successful season overall, he said: “It’s been an enjoyable season. During the time I’ve been here there have been a lot more enjoyable days than bad ones. I’ve loved every minute here over the last couple of years and it isn’t over yet.
“We’ve got another couple of hurdles to overcome and hopefully it’s going to be even better. Since I’ve been here the club has been going in the right direction. I’ve been at a lot of football clubs in my time now and this club really seems to be on the right track.
“Hopefully we’re coming into form at just the right time. Anything can happen in the play-offs and the best team on each day will get through, but we’re in with a real shout.”
Speaking about the away game at Exeter, he said: “We were obviously disappointed with the goals we conceded, but we always are when we concede goals. It was a great game for the neutral and it worked out well in the end.
“If I’m honest I was exhausted at full time. I was disappointed with the first goal but I was over the moon when Proc [Jamie Proctor] scored. I got back on the coach and I just felt drained.”
The victory has, of course, set up a double-header against the exact same opponents, starting on Sunday night at Brunton Park [kick off 6.30pm].
“We know there’s a lot more to come from Exeter,” he commented. “They were in a difficult position on Saturday because they knew they were already in the play-offs and they would have to play us again if we won.
“We know we’ll have to play well over both legs to get through. It will be a heck of a test but hopefully we’ll be seeing that big Wembley arch soon.
“The season has been extended for us and that’s brilliant. I get to pick on Nicky Adams for another couple of weeks so I’m more than happy to take that. It’s hard to explain, you work all season for these moments and now we’re in the mix.
“We’ve got to be excited. The way we’ve done it means we’re in a great position to go and enjoy it. I don’t think you would swap any of our squad for any of the players we’ll be playing against so that’s the way we’ve got to look at it. I think you get what you deserve in football so in two or three weeks time we’ll have what we deserve.”
Having already mentioned the recent upturn in form, he explained that the better results were down to team spirit and unity, as well as sprinkling of quality in what is a very close squad.
“We probably should have won the two or three games before the Newport and Exeter victories,” he said. “We were by far the superior team in all of those games but I’ve been around football for long enough to know you don’t always get the rub of the green.
“Not just in football but in life, I think it’s about how you react when you get knocked down and we’ve had that this season. I think we’ve shown as a bunch of players and staff that we can take a punch to the face and get back up and keep fighting.
“We’ve done that, particularly during the second half of the season. We’re now in a position where we have a 25% chance of getting into League One next season and you can’t ask for much more than that.
“It would be great to do it with this bunch of boys. We had a great bunch last year but the quality that’s been added this season has been amazing. Like I said, I’ve had an amazing two years here and it would be the icing on the cake to get a medal around my neck and get all my family down to Wembley. I’ve got my stag do three days after that as well so it could be quite a week!”
The manager revealed in March that Raynes was one of a group of players who had been offered new deals to take them into the new season with the club, whatever the outcome of the play-off campaign.
“I’m going to have a chat with the manager at the end of the season,” he said. “I’ve said since day one that I’m not one to panic or worry about contracts. I’ve got the opinion that in football, what will be will be.
“If this is my last year here I’ve had an amazing time. I haven’t got any regrets about my time here, I’ve literally loved every minute of it. If I get to continue then that will be amazing.
“We’ve got hopefully three massive games coming up to get ourselves into League One. Then I might have better cards going into the conversations in the summer. I’m fully concentrated on these next games if I’m being honest.”
And on his previous experiences in play-off matches, he told us: “I’ve been promoted through the play-offs even though I did get injured, so I missed the final with Stockport.
“We beat Wycombe over two legs, but I got injured in the away leg and missed the final. Fingers crossed I get to experience it this time round.”
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