Glossop North End v North Shields is this season’s FA Vase final (May 9, Wembley). It’s North v Far North. Glossop North End are trying to make it a cup and league double, indeed some form of treble. They are second in the North West Counties League, eight points behind Runcorn Linnets, but with five games in hand. But fixture congestion could well be their undoing as they chase the top club. It’s almost a case of being punished for success.
Just look at their fixture list for the next few weeks: April 6: Abbey Hey – A April 8: AFC Liverpool – H April 9: St.Helens Town – H April 11: Barnoldswick Town – A April 13: Runcorn Town – A April 15: Silsden – A April 18: Nelson – H April 20: 1874 Northwich – H April 22: Runcorn Town – H April 25: Runcorn Linnets – A That’s 10 league games in 20 days, culminating in a top versus second clash with Runcorn Linnets on the final 90 minutes of the campaign. They’ve also got a league cup final against Atherton Collieries on April 30, nine days before their trip to Wembley – that’s if they are not burned out by then! It could be an incredible finale, or Glossop’s players could be limping all the way to the arch.
Their FA Vase run started in November when they beat North West Counties League stable-mates West Didsbury & Chorlton 2-1 in the first round. They then won 3-0 at home to Ryhope Colliery Welfare of the Northern League second division. In the third round, they came up against another familiar opponent in 1874 Northwich, beating them 3-0 away from home. The fourth round couldn’t have conjured up a more interesting sounding tie – Worksop v Glossop, but another good away win, 1-0, took them through against the Northern Counties East Premier side. In round five, it took Glossop two games to dispose of Vase specialists Dunston UTS, a home tie ending 2-2 in front of 651 people before a 3-1 win in the North East before another big crowd.
The last eight saw Glossop drawn away to Shaw Lane Aquaforce. They drew 2-2 in their first meeting but in the replay, Glossop won 3-1 to delight a 1,000-plus crowd. In the semi-final, South West Peninsula League St. Austell provided the opposition, a team that had been going great guns in the league all season. But Glossop, who had something like a 650-mile round trip to encounter, were always in command and came away from Cornwall with a 2-0 win and made some friends in the West of England. The second leg saw the visitors score in the 90th minute to win 1-0, but Glossop held on to reach their second FA Vase final in six years (they lost 2-0 to Whitley Bay in 2009).
In the league, Glossop have lost just twice, and one of those was against leaders Runcorn Linnets. The two teams have been untouchable this season – Glossop are 13 points ahead of third placed 1874 Northwich. Their success this season has been reflected at the turnstiles – Glossop’s gates are up 30% with average of 273 at their Arthur Goldthorpe Stadium. While the goals of Kieran Lugsden, Jason Carey and Tom Bailey (82 between them) have made headlines for Chris Willcock’s team this season, another youngster, Sam Grimshaw, has caught the eye of Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal. The 21 year-old, who has started only a handful of league games for Glossop, has been given a trial by the Premier League giants.
Talking of trials, Glossop now have one of their own to deal with – a glut of vital games before they can enjoy their day out at Wembley. But fixture pile-ups are always easier to deal with when you’re winning…