Grimsby Town: Derek Niven's stadium dream 'crosses the border'
DEREK Niven can't wait to finally run out at Wembley Stadium – although it was Hampden Park that dominated his boyhood dreams!
The tenacious midfielder was among Grimsby Town's star performers at Princes Park on Saturday, as the Mariners booked their FA Trophy final place.
After winning their semi-final first leg 3-0 at Blundell Park, Niven and his team-mates completed the job with a professional display in Kent.
And the Scot, who joined Town in the summer after eight years with Chesterfield, is relishing the prospect of playing at one of the world's most famous venues on March 24.
He told the Telegraph: "Growing up in Scotland, you don't dream of playing at Wembley – you dream of playing at Hampden, although it's not as nice as Wembley to be fair!
"When I was a kid I always wanted to run out at Hampden, but then I moved to England and saw what an amazing stadium it is down there.
"You always want to play at the best stadiums around the world, so it will be a fantastic experience, and I can't wait."
The chance to run out at the home of English football has been a long time coming for the 29-year-old, who came agonisingly close to achieving his goal last season.
"I went to Wembley for the first time last year," he added. "I was in the Chesterfield squad for their Johnstone's Paint Trophy victory, but I didn't make it onto the bench. That was obviously really disappointing for me.
"But I've got there with Grimsby Town now, so hopefully I can put that to bed and play at Wembley for the first time next month. It would be fantastic to finally do that. It's an amazing stadium and the boys who have not been there before will be able to experience that and make some special memories."
Saturday's battle with the Darts appeared tailor-made for midfield anchorman Niven, and so it proved.
Working in tandem with skipper Craig Disley in the engine room, the former Raith Rovers man was at his destructive best as the hosts went in search of an unlikely comeback.
"We expected them to come out in the first 15-20 minutes because they knew exactly what they had to do – they needed an early goal to put us under pressure and perhaps make us a bit nervous.
"We didn't keep the ball much in the first half, but after the break we came out and played a bit more football. If we had got a goal then it would have been a lot more comfortable.
"Despite that, I don't think we were ever in any danger of losing the game."
Explaining the Mariners' mindset heading into Saturday's second leg, Niven continued: "You want to approach it as a completely new game, but in the back of your mind you know you're winning 3-0, so it's a difficult one to prepare for.
"But we've gone out on the day and performed well. It was a good, hard-working performance and it got us the result that we all wanted.
"You have to keep switched on for the full 90 minutes, but apart from the first 10-15 minutes I don't think we were in any danger.
"There were a few scrambles in the box where we had to get bodies behind the ball and get blocks in, but they didn't cause any major problems.
"Maybe we could even have upped it a bit in the second half but we knew we had the three goals from the first leg, and we were content to see the game out."