THEY may be massive underdogs, but defensive rock Danny Ellis believes Guiseley have got what it takes to stun hosts AFC Telford United in Sunday’s Blue Square Bet North play-off final.
Guiseley are 90 minutes away from snatching a seat at non-league football’s top table and Ellis – the club’s longest-serving player - insists nobody in the Nethermoor camp is willing to let the chance pass by.
The West Yorkshire outfit began the year among the favourites for instant relegation, after winning the UniBond Premier Division title in 2009-10.
Qualifying for the play-offs – by finishing fifth in the table – was a notable achievement at the first attempt, but many pundits expect Guiseley simply to be guests at Telford’s promotion party.
The Bucks finished as runners-up to champions Alfreton, nine points ahead of their final opponents and have beaten Guiseley twice this term.
But Guiseley have already seen off higher rated opposition in the semi-finals, eventually beating Boston United 3-2 on penalties last Sunday and, according to Ellis, taking on Telford on their own pitch holds no fears.
“It’s huge,” Ellis said of this weekend’s final. “It’s a massive game for us and the club and also we owe them one down there.
“When we played them in the league we lost 1-0, but we were the better team and they know that.
“We got beaten 3-0 at home and they are a good side, but we have got every confidence we can go down there and do a job.
“Our away record this year is class and we’ve got a great dressing room. We never get down, even if we are losing.
“We went to Boston last week and got a good result there and if we have the same attitude on Sunday, I don’t see why we can’t do it.”
Guiseley exceeded expectations simply by qualifying for the play-offs, as Ellis admits.
“At the start of the season we would have settled for mid-table,” he said. “We have surprised ourselves.
“To get to the play-offs is a brilliant achievement and we didn’t expect to go as well as we have this year.
“We have over-achieved, but I think we can win it now and I think the club could survive in the Conference.
“We have got great backers at the club and the ground is getting improved now ready for next season.
“We don’t have a massive squad, but if we added a couple to strengthen, I think we would be competitive.
“We have played a few Conference teams this year and done all right, apart from Crawley in the FA Cup.
“We are an established team that could probably do well in that league. We have done extremely well this year as a group of players and we’d love to have a go at it.”
Ellis paid tribute to manager Steve Kittrick, who has taken Guiseley to their highest placing in the club’s 101-year history.
“He has been brilliant,” Ellis said. “He drums the same thing into us, work hard and play hard and it has paid off.
“Training is good, we have a laugh, but we work hard as well and that has shown on the pitch.
“We have come a long way and we have surprised a lot of people and a lot of clubs. The club has achieved so much.”
Sunday will be the 58th game of a season which has also seen Guiseley win the West Riding County Cup and reach the first round of the FA Cup and the FA Trophy quarter-finals.
“It’s a lot, especially when you are working as well, as most of us are,” Ellis said.
“It can be hard at times, but it just shows if you put your heart and soul into it, you get the rewards.”
Guiseley’s players spent yesterday at York Races as a guest of director Steve Parkin. Kittrick expects to select from full-strength for Sunday’s game. Striker Joe O’Neill – who has netted 17 times this season – is back in contention after missing last Sunday’s play-off semi-final second leg at Boston.
O’Neill suffered an ankle injury in the County Cup final win over Thackley on April 13.
He returned in the home leg against Boston, but had to be replaced at half-time.
Influential midfielder Liam Needham could also feature on Sunday. He was a substitute last weekend, after a long injury lay-off.
Guiseley expect to take around 400 fans to Sunday’s game. Secretary Adrian Towers said: “Our average gate is around 450 in the league, so that is just about our entire support.”
Fans wanting to travel by coach to the game can book by calling Paul on 07518 445861.