Glossop North End can seal their place in history if they win the FA Vase at Wembley this afternoon. They are already Northern West Counties League champions and League Cup winners, and a Vase victory would undoubtedly make them one of non-league football’s teams of the year.
Glossop Chairman Dave Atkinson told the Buxton Advertiser this week that the Vase would be “the icing on the cake” after a tremendous season.
Despite the sort of fixture congestion that always seems to hamper Vase finalists, Glossop romped to the title, finishing 10 points clear of second place Runcorn Linnets. They ended the campaign with a 1-0 win at Runcorn on April 25. Ben Richardson’s second half goal was their 100 of the league programme.
A few days later, Glossop won the League Cup, beating Atherton Collieries 2-0 at Curzon Asthon. That was their 13th game in April, but they showed no sign of letting up, winning 11 of those games. They clinched the title with a 3-0 against Nelson in front of more than 900 people. It was the first trophy for the club since 2001.
Glossop’s 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).
The media has focused on the Glossop twins, Kieran and Kelvin Lugsden, but North Shields will also have to look out for Tom Bailey and Jason Carey. In fact, goal-happy Glossop have six players who are well into double figures this season.
Glossop people are predicting 10,000 travelling fans. These predictions are invariably wildly wrong – last season, Sholing and West Auckland were both making bold claims, but the crowd was less than 5,500. The previous season saw 17,000 attend the Spennymoor v Tunbridge Wells final. The last time Glossop were at Wembley, in 2009, the crowd was more than 12,000. They lost that day to Whitley Bay, they Hillman will be hoping for better luck this time.