It was tantalisingly close, but refusing to touch the FA Trophy was not the only superstition Ian Miller will be using for Wembley’s final.
Having just looked at the trophy during the press shoot on the River Thames, the ex-Bury Town captain’s only other football ritual will take on extra special significance before leading Cambridge United out against underdogs Gosport Borough on Sunday (3pm).
Twelve years ago, almost to the day, he lost one of his best friends in a car crash in a vehicle he would normally have been travelling in and white tape wrapped around Miller’s left wrist will once again be a reminder of an untimely loss.
Former West Suffolk College and Bury Town teammate Mark Lucchi will be in his thoughts if he again lifts non-League’s showpiece event.
He won it with Darlington in 2011, but missed out last year after a penalty shootout defeat with Grimsby.
“He played on my left-hand side at the Bury Football School at West Suffolk College and with Suffolk FA, and with this I always have him beside me,” said the 30-year-old Exning-based centre-half, who made a fairytale rise from non-League at Bury to the second tier of English football with Ipswich Town after starring in a friendly against them.
Miller, who back in 2002 lived in Marks Tey, used to share lifts with Lucchi, the same age as him, and it was only a last-minute decision to drive himself to Cornard United on March 14 which saw him avoid the same fate in a collision on the A14 near the sugar beet factory in Bury.
“It certainly puts things into perspective,” said Miller of last Friday’s anniversary. “I am very lucky to do what I do for a living and it makes you realise how short life is.
“I have lost a few family members in the last year and on Sunday those thoughts will definitely be on my mind.”