WHEN the Wrexham players celebrated winning the FA Trophy on the club’s first ever Wembley appearance, there was one key person missing.

Kevin Thornton converted a penalty with just nine minutes to go and put Andy Morrell’s Reds back on level terms against Grimsby Town in March 2013, taking the final into extra-time.

It remained 1-1 following the added 30 minutes so a penalty shoot-out was required to determine a winner, but Thornton, who had been substituted by then, wasn’t watching on with team-mates and members of staff.

Wrexham were flawless from the spot and when Johnny Hunt ran off towards the Reds’ supporters after scoring the winning penalty, Thornton was not part of the immediate celebrations because the midfielder was giving a drug-test and was struggling to provide a sample!

“I went to the dressing room at half-time of extra-time, and the FA asked if they could drug test me and one of the Grimsby players,” said Thornton.

“They wouldn’t let us back out until we’d given a sample.

“I couldn’t go to the toilet and they were saying drink loads of water. Their player was drinking loads of water and he couldn’t go as well.

“I wanted to go back out so much but they wouldn’t let me and I missed all the penalties.

“There was no TV screen in the room or anything. You get your results there and then but I didn’t know we’d won it until I went back out.

“Everybody was celebrating by the Wrexham fans so when I saw they were celebrating, I was absolutely buzzing.

“But I was so gutted I missed the penalty shoot-out. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time!”

Thornton had his moment, equalising when he sent Grimsby goalkeeper James McKeown the wrong way from the penalty spot in normal time.

“It is up there with my best experience football-wise,” said Thornton. “Stepping up and taking a penalty at Wembley is basically every boy’s dream.”

Captain Dean Keates, who won the penalty after he was fouled in the area, was Wrexham’s designated penalty taker.

But Keates handed the ball to Thornton - and he wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity to take a spot-kick at Wembley.

“I was the penalty taker behind Dean,” said Thornton.

“He got taken down, he went off and came back on, but when he threw the ball to me - I think it was because of his injury - I was so happy to take it.

“People say ‘were you nervous?’ I was a little bit, I’m not going to lie, but I was just so glad to get that chance because everybody was there; all my family from Ireland were over and all my friends from Coventry, my missus and all her family.

“It was actually a joy to take it and that 20 seconds after you have scored, the feeling is hard to describe.

“It is a story to tell when my little lad grows up.”

Thornton didn’t get the chance to score another penalty in the shoot-out because he had been substituted but winning silverware was all that mattered to the 35-year-old.

“Obviously you don’t want to be taken off, especially in a game like that, but the gaffer made a decision and you have just got to go with that,” he said,

“It was nice for me to score a penalty but the main thing was Wrexham won the FA Trophy.”

Wrexham, beaten in the showpiece two years later by North Ferriby United, have reached a third FA Trophy and will face Bromley at Wembley on Sunday.

“It is such a joy to see them back there,” added Thornton. “It is every boy’s dream to play at Wembley.”