Does anyone remember a TV drama in the 1980s that told the tale of a little team from the North of England winning the so-called “World Cup” at the back end of Edwardian England? Well, the club that achieved that honour, lifting the Thomas Lipton Cup – he of the ubiquitious tea brand that you find in continental Europe but nowhere else – is bound for Wembley this year.
West Auckland Town of the Northern League Division One, will line-up against fellow leaguers Dunston UTS in the FA Vase final on May 13. Back in 1909 and 1911, they won the self-styled World Cup by beating teams like Stuttgart, Zurich, Winterthur and Juventus. Sadly, international success didn’t lead to major domestic honours!
There’s a delightfully old fashioned feel to this final. To mark the occasion, the Wall’s County Town Brewery of Northallerton has produced a celebration ale, League of our own. Both clubs, hardly the wealthiest around, will surely savour the occasion.
West Auckland’s FA Vase run began back in the first qualifying round, so they have slalomed their way past no less than nine opponents, ranging from Cleator Moor and Shildon in the North to Kent’s Herne Bay. After that lot, they deserve a bit of praise.
Dunston are just 40 miles apart from West Auckland and are only 37 years old. They’ve been through seven rounds, beating Staveley in the two-legged semi-final. West Auckland and Dunston met in the FA Cup this season with the latter wining 5-1 after a draw in their first meeting.
In the league, both have been going for the title. West Auckland sit at the top today after ending their campaign with 95 points from 42 games. Spennymoor are in second place but are favourites to lift the Northern League championship with two games remaining a one point less than West Auckland. And Dunston have two games to go and are on 90 points.
West Auckland’s key man is one Mattie Moffat, who has netted 36 goals this season. In the previous three seasons, the 26 year-old accrued 89 goals. Moffat was injured in the final league game, but he will doubtless recover from this setback.
West Auckland are no strangers to Wembley, however. They were runners-up in the FA Amateur Cup in 1961, but that was a long time ago. It’s changed a bit since then.