The FA Vase effectively replaced The FA Amateur Cup in 1974.
In that year The FA Council had decided to abolish the official distinction between ‘amateur’ and ‘professional’ footballers and this meant the end of The Amateur Cup and Amateur Internationals involving England.
Two-hundred and twenty clubs entered The Vase in its first season but they didn’t include those clubs which had dominated in The Amateur Cup. Enfield, Hendon, Dagenham, Skelmersdale United and others at their level were immediately allocated to The FA Trophy.
For the first time in history, small clubs – even village clubs – had the chance of playing in a national final at Wembley.
The first Vase Finalists were Hoddesdon Town from the Spartan League and Epsom & Ewell from the Surrey Senior League. The Hertfordshire side edged home 2-1 before a crowd of 9,000.
Even a competition as democratic as The Vase had its ‘elite’ clubs in the early years. Billericay Town, initially of the Essex Senior League, won The Vase in 1976, 1977 and 1979. Halesowen Town, then in the West Midlands League, also appeared in three Finals. They lost by the only goal to VS Rugby in 1983, scored by Ian Crawley who also scored the goal that won The Trophy for Telford United in ’89, but beat Fleetwood Town in ’85 and Southall in ’86.
Until two years ago the record attendance for any Vase match was the 26,489 who saw the drawn 1989 Final between Sudbury Town and Tamworth on a warm afternoon at Wembley. Tamworth won the replay 3-0 at Peterborough and Ian Moores, a former Division One player with Tottenham Hotspur, scored one of the goals.
The Vase competition is now in its 39th season. There have been 32 Finals at Wembley, two at Villa Park and St Andrews and one each at Upton Park and White Hart Lane. Twenty-nine different clubs have got their hands on The Vase donated by former FA Councillor Frank Adams. Whitley Bay lead the way with four wins, followed by Billericay on three wins and Brigg Town, Halesowen Town and Tiverton Town with two.
Aficionados of The Vase competition tend to rate the 1992 Final between Wimborne Town and Guiseley as the best so far. Wessex League Wimborne had a modest record in the competition before then, having never ventured beyond the Third Round, but they embarked on a spectacular Vase journey that took them all the way from the First Round to The Final. A goal down after 14 minutes at Wembley, the Dorset side fought back to win 5-3.
The Vase Final returned to Wembley in 2007 and a record 36,232 fans saw Truro City beat AFC Totton 3-1 after being a goal down.
Kirkham & Wesham of the North West Counties League lifted The Vase in 2008 in their very first season in the competition, beating Lowestoft Town 2-1.
Then in 2009, two first-half goals sent The Vase back to Whitley Bay, who won it seven years earlier, as they beat Glossop North End. Bay's manager Ian Chandler also scored the winner in the 2002 victory over Tiptree United at Villa Park.
'The Bay' retained The Vase in 2010 and 2011 before relinquishing their crown in 2012, the year Dunston UTS won the competition for the first-ever time.