Underdog day afternoon

THE THICK-THIGHED, bearded man sat on the train from Wembley Stadium, Morpeth colours draped around his ample torso. He was grinning, for his team had pulled off a shock in winning the FA Vase. He struggled to keep awake for the short journey back to Marylebone, a day on the ale getting the better of him. He had a long journey home to Northumberland and he had probably not downed his last pint of beer. You sensed there was a lot of celebrating still left to suffer. And celebrate he might, for Non-League Finals Day – which he had undoubtedly … Continue reading Underdog day afternoon

Why Wembley 2016 could be a litmus test

IT’S good news that tickets for the non-league finals day are going pretty well, mostly driven by the enthusiasm of Hereford’s fans. According to press reports, 15,000 tickets have been sold by the phoenix club, which will hopefully ensure a healthy turn out on May 22. The move to combine the two finals on the same day was long overdue. If the FA hadn’t done so, the pragmatists would argue that holding the FA Vase and FA Trophy at the national stadium was pure folly. Last season, the Vase was watched by 9,674 people, whereas the Trophy was 15,585. Between … Continue reading Why Wembley 2016 could be a litmus test

Having a gander at Sutton United

ANYONE who has circulated the Isthmian League over the years will know that Sutton United are a classy club. It helps that they’re in a relatively affluent part of the country, but they have always stood out for being a club that held onto the old amateur ideals of doing things the right way – or so it appeared to the neutral onlooker. At the same time, you often felt that Sutton were a little stuck in the past – but what a good past it was: five Isthmian titles, FA Cup giant-killings, FA Amateur Cup finalists (1963 and 1969) … Continue reading Having a gander at Sutton United

North Ferriby United are one game short of “outdoing Pele”

It’s the second leg of the FA Trophy semi-finals this weekend and while Wrexham and Torquay square up in the battle of the former Football Leaguers, North Ferriby United and Bath City resume battle after drawing 2-2 at Twerton Park in the first leg. The prospect of returning to Wembley – North Ferriby reached the FA Vase final in 1997 – has captured the imagination of the little town (is it a town?) from the East Riding. Their chairman Les Hare is urging the club to out in a big effort to ensure that “the villagers” (perhaps there’s the answer to … Continue reading North Ferriby United are one game short of “outdoing Pele”

Calling in on….Burgess Hill Town – wigwam bam

You could be forgiven for assuming that a trip to Burgess Hill Town is akin to visiting some sort of new age tribe. They play at the Green Elephants Stadium, their fans refer to them as “the Hillians” and there’s a big wigwam on the far side of the ground as you come through the gates. Are we at a world music festival? Is it a spin-off of Glastonbury? No, the Green Elephants are the club’s sponsors and the wigwam is one of their [far from cheap] products. As for tribe, well, the club’s nickname is “the Hillians”. All roads … Continue reading Calling in on….Burgess Hill Town – wigwam bam

King’s men v the Quakers: An enjoyable case of North v South

If you’re a southern-based non-league club, it’s seldom you entertain a northern team, unless you have a long run in one of the FA competitions. It’s even more rare to come up against a team from the north-east of England. What’s more, playing host to a club with some form of Football League heritage is something of a red letter day. So St. Neots Town v Darlington 1883 (no, it’s not a new fangled lager from the top right hand corner of England), was a very attractive tie that offered something a little special. And it didn’t disappoint. A bit … Continue reading King’s men v the Quakers: An enjoyable case of North v South