BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Andy Marshall has told Charlton Athletic’s players that opportunities like Sunday’s League One play-off final do not swing around often.
The Addicks head to Wembley for the first time since 1998 to face Sunderland, the winner clinching promotion to the Championship.
Marshall, brought on to Lee Bowyer’s backroom staff in the summer as the goalkeeping coach, played for Millwall in their 2004 FA Cup final defeat to Manchester United at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
He was goalkeeper coach at Aston Villa when they beat Liverpool 2-1 in the 2015 FA Cup semi-final – Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph scored. Tim Sherwood’s side went on to lose 4-0 to Liverpool. Both games were at Wembley
Marshall said: “The whole team we have got – from the sports science to the medical team, analysts and groundsman – it has all been put together by Lee [Bowyer]. He has given us as coaching staff the remit we need to follow.
“Having Steve Gallen has been phenomenal, the recruitment work he has done for the football club.
“It has been unique, what we’ve had. The players have to realise this only comes along once every blue moon. We’ve had to roll our sleeves up and get mucky. I’ve loved every second of it.
“It is a million times worse going to Wembley as a coach. When you play you have got that anticipation and excitement, it is second to none. As a coach you just feel completely helpless. Myself, Johnie [Jackson] and Lee do all the work in the build-up to prep the team, but after they cross that white line it is down to them.
“We need to try and keep level heads and look at it from a technical aspect, rather than running away with our hearts.
“But last Friday was special. I’ve been fortunate to have some special occasions in my career – I’ve had some pretty decent highs. But I’ve got to say that is right up there, if not one of the most exhilarating games I’ve been involved in.
“It was phenomenal the way the fans were and it all came together. We have got to take that energy and positivity into the game on Sunday.
“We didn’t deal with the occasion as well as we should have done on Friday night, we didn’t play the football we should have been playing.
“Sunderland are a big club and we will treat them with the respect they deserve.
“But we’ll also be fully prepared for them. If we get Charlton Athletic Football Club playing well – at full tilt – Sunderland are going to have a tough game on their hands.”