Club of the Month: Cray Valley Paper Mills

THE FA VASE final in May will be between Chertsey Town and Cray Valley Paper Mills. There’s not a Northern League team in sight! Chertsey have flown a lot higher in the past, but Cray Valley PM are not a club that many non-league fans will have come across. The name, for a start, harks back to the days of works teams and indeed, the … Continue reading Club of the Month: Cray Valley Paper Mills

An altogether civilised experience

YOU couldn’t really get two contrasting Wembley days: the FA Cup final, full of rabid supporters, followed by the low-key, low-octane event that is Non-League Finals Day. The latter has more in keeping with cricket or rugby in terms of the audience, but after experiencing 88,000 people struggling in and out of Wembley, the relative calm of the non-league showpiece was very welcoming. For the … Continue reading An altogether civilised experience

The lure of North v South in the Vase

THE FA Vase has been dominated by Northern League clubs for the past few years. And there’s a good reason for this – regardless of whether these teams are just simply of a higher quality than the rest of the Vase’s entrants, there’s a feeling at this level of the game that the Northern League belongs to a higher step. It’s a situation that the … Continue reading The lure of North v South in the Vase

All about a stand: March Town v Peterborough Northern Star

“YOU’VE got to have a look at their stand, it’s proper Victorian,” I was told when I mentioned I was travelling to March in Cambridgeshire for the local club’s FA Vase tie with Peterborough Northern Star. Actually, it’s not Victorian and the club are looking to demolish it, which no doubt upsets the ground-porn community who like to wallow in nostalgia. But it is worth … Continue reading All about a stand: March Town v Peterborough Northern Star

Wembley beckons for Clee Town

FOR THE second season running, a team from Cleethorpes is playing on Non-League finals day. Last season, Grimsby Town, whose ground is in Cleethorpes, lost in the FA Trophy final, this year, the club that bears the Lincolnshire coastal town’s name will run out in the FA Vase final on May 21. As is often the case in the FA Vase, the two finalists are … Continue reading Wembley beckons for Clee Town

Trophy bitter at the Carlsberg

THE FA TROPHY doesn’t have the cachet of the FA Cup, but it still represents a mid-season distraction for non-league clubs at step three and beyond. Biggleswade Town v Hitchin Town also had the added spice of a local derby, so it seemed a reasonably attractive tie for a dull, drizzly afternoon by the A1(M). Hitchin were still basking in the glow of rubbing shoulders … Continue reading Trophy bitter at the Carlsberg

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 … Continue reading Why Wembley 2016 could be a litmus test

“A club, they have a club?” – non-league’s challenge

A FEW weeks ago, every railway station leading into London Kings Cross had people with cameras and notebooks perched at the end of their platforms. The reason? The Flying Scotsman was heading north from London for the first time in years. “I don’t get it,” said someone on the 7.36 am train into London. “I simply don’t understand why people are so desperate to see … Continue reading “A club, they have a club?” – non-league’s challenge

FA Vase semi-finals: Big clubs, little clubs

THE FIRST legs of the FA Vase semi-finals take place this weekend, with little Bowers & Pitsea hoping to take a big step towards Wembley against Morpeth Town, and two big non-league names meeting headlong in the other game. Morpeth will travel over 300 miles from Northumberland to Pitsea in Essex for their tie. The Northern League Division One side are riding high this season  … Continue reading FA Vase semi-finals: Big clubs, little clubs

Kidlington’s big day turns sour

THE FA VASE might not register with a lot of people until it starts to get interesting, but there was no doubt that the quarter-final tie between Kidlington and Bowers & Pitsea had captured the attention of local people. Kidlington is the sort of place you see signposted on a roundabout and wonder what goes on there. It’s notable for being the home of Oxford … Continue reading Kidlington’s big day turns sour

Preview: Hartley v Hereford – landmarks for both clubs

IT’S FA VASE weekend and we’ve reached the last 16 stage. There’s an unfamiliar name among the participants in the form of Hereford, the phoenix club that rose from the ashes of the old Hereford United. Hereford, like their predecessors, play at Edgar Street and are averaging 2,800-plus in the Midland League Premier Division – Step 5 of the non-league game – which they lead … Continue reading Preview: Hartley v Hereford – landmarks for both clubs