Hornchurch's 'Hollywood' run to the FA Trophy final has been given a further sprinkling of stardust by England legend Stuart Pearce.
The Urchins are preparing to take on Hereford at Wembley on May 22 having entered the competition at the third qualifying round stage back in October.
The last six rounds - all played amid the backdrop of a curtailed league campaign - have seen Mark Stimson's side topple sides from higher divisions and they booked their place in the final by dumping out National League giants Notts County on penalties in the last four.
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West Ham first-team coach Pearce made the short trip from the Hammers training ground to surprise the Urchins squad and give them the benefit of his Wembley experiences - which go back more than four decades on and off the field.
Pearce, 59, said: "I was a ball boy at the FA Vase final in the 1970s and I worked in the bars at Wembley Stadium as a 15-year-old.
"My electrical apprenticeship was in the borough of Brent and I used to live three miles away from the ground, so it's a stadium and an area I know very well.
"Playing there for the first time was a baptism of fire for me. I had been a non-league player four years earlier and there I was, walking out to make my England debut against Brazil in front of 100,000 people.
"For the Hornchurch players to have the opportunity to play there now is special, especially with a small number of fans allowed back in, and what they have done to get this far is incredible.
"If it was a Hollywood film, you'd probably say it was too far-fetched.
"Now it is really important they keep doing all the things that have got them this far. They can't let the occasion get to them."
Pearce was an FA Trophy quarter-finalist with Wealdstone in the early 1980s and retains strong links with the non-league game.
"It has been brilliant to have Stuart here, he's a legend of the game," said striker Liam Nash, this season's FA Trophy top scorer with six goals.
"None of us could ever have dreamed of playing at Wembley but he's given us an insight into how to manage such a big occasion for us as players.
"It's so exciting for the club. The countdown is on and I keep saying I'm wishing the days away but at the same time, I don't want it to go too quickly - I know when the day comes around it'll be gone in a flash.
"With no league football, knowing each game on this run could be our last of the season has been a real motivator. We have treated every game as a cup final - now we're in one."
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