2015/16 FA Vase – The Road To Wembley

Forget the guts and the glory of the FA Cup, the FA Vase provides the most realistic opportunity to taste success and the chance of silverware at national level for today’s teams. The Football Association Challenge Vase, to give it it’s full title, is contested by clubs from Step 5 and below. Essentially the top clubs from the United Counties League Premier Division stand an excellent chance of reaching a Wembley final, which would surely be a career defining moment for most players at this level.

The 2011/12 season saw the Swans play what is arguably the biggest game in their history when they were drawn against Ashington AFC in the 4th round of the Vase. The people of Newport Pagnell responded to the glamour tie and an excited crowd of 664 packed into Willen Road, which remains the ground’s record attendance for a competitive match. Ashington went on to win a classic cup encounter 3-2 to progress in the competition. This type of success is key to unlocking a club’s support base and clearly demonstrates the hunger for local football at non league level.

The cup dream is something that all football supporters, at all levels of the game will relate to. A grand total of 572 clubs will contest this year’s competition, this is their dream, their road to Wembley. The Vase gives those teams entering the chance to be centre stage, for once the billions of pounds floating around a few elite clubs at the pinnacle of English football really do not matter.

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This season the Football Association have announced that they will pilot a double-header, with both the FA Trophy and FA Vase finals taking place on Sunday 22nd May 2016 at Wembley Stadium. This will be the first time that two national FA competition finals will be held on the same day, at the same venue. Whether your team reaches the final or not a great day out is in store at the iconic national stadium. For those wanting to be part of the crowd for both finals, tickets are reasonably priced at £15 for adults, £10 for OAP/student and £5 for children. *

Today’s tie has the added spice of seeing two local rivals locking horns in what is destined to be one of the highlights of the season. At stake is a place in the 2nd Qualifying Round, a home tie against either UCL Division One side Long Buckby or Combined Counties League Premier Division strugglers Spelthorne Sports. Whichever team is triumphant today stand a fantastic chance of reaching the First Round Proper and, with luck on their side, maybe Wembley Stadium beckons.

* The date of the final and ticket prices correct at time of publishing, check the FA website for up to date details.

Artwork courtesy of Bravo Sierra Designs.

Originally published in ‘Swans Confidential’ the official matchday programme of Newport Pagnell Town Football Club.
NPTFC v AFC Kempston Rovers
FA Vase, 1st Qualifying Round
5th September 2015

© Andy Gunn

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