'Leafe defend an early corner.
By David Barber - Tuesday, 07 May, 2013
FA superfan David Barber saw Spennymoor and Newport win at Wembley
Over the Bank Holiday weekend I saw two Wembley Finals, a Kent League match at Whyteleafe, and for once could leave the anorak at home.
Spennymoor Town edged Tunbridge Wells 2-1 in Saturday’s FA Vase Final, Newport County scored two late goals to win the Conference Premier Promotion Final against Wrexham on Sunday and it was 1-1 on a ‘bobbly’ pitch at Church Road yesterday.
It was my 24th Vase Final. I missed the first one, Hoddesdon Town v Epsom & Ewell in 1975, because I was a bit of a Palace supporter in those days and they were at home to AFC Bournemouth that afternoon (4-1).
My favourite is the 1992 Final, when Wimborne Town went behind to Guiseley but fought back to win a classic 5-3. I also enjoyed the first one at the new Wembley in 2007, when Truro City were the victors.
Saturday’s crowd of 16,751 was the best for a Final for five years and was even higher than Sunday’s attendance, if only by a few hundred. I couldn’t believe the number of fans that Tunbridge Wells brought with them, given the sort of crowd they would normally have for a home match at Culverden Stadium.
It was the magic of The Vase, so different from the old Amateur Cup – and, of course, the magic of Wembley.
Spennymoor were said to be the favourites but up to the 78th minute they only held a one-goal advantage.
Then Tunbridge Wells scored a particularly exciting equaliser. I was in the Wells half of the stadium and they all went mad. It was difficult not to get caught up in it all.
But the Northern League side quickly made it 2-1 and lifted The Vase for the first time. I watched the Conference Final, featuring two Welsh clubs, with some Cardiff City supporters!
The turnstile operator at Whyteleafe yesterday told me the programme was free because it was “out of date”. It was dated 29 September 2012, so at least it was the right season.
This could easily have been an ‘end of season’ match but both ‘Leafe and visiting Deal Town did look as though they were interested. But accurate passing was difficult on a pitch made threadbare in parts by nine months of use by both Whyteleafe and Combined Counties League Warlingham.
I’m up to 162 matches for the season and, all things being equal, will see another 13 by the end of May. There’s an obvious difference to last season, when I saw 244, but that’s pretty much down to the weather. Four blank weekends in a row at Regent’s Park, for example!
Matches this season = 162
Matches in total = 6,457
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