Sunday 13th May 2012 ko 3.00pm
FA Vase Final
DUNSTON UTS 2 (Bulford 32 79)
WEST AUCKLAND TOWN 0
At Wembley Stadium
Entry, Programme & Team Sheet- Complimentary (Many Thanks to Dave Morrall of the Northern Counties East League)
I really hadn’t planned on doing this one, but when Chris Berezai phoned me to say Dave Morrall, chairman of the NCEL had offered us complementaries for the final, well who’d say no to that? So my suit and tie travelled up to Chris and Jenny on Sunday morning, and the two of us must have looked like we were off to church, as we left Long Eaton!
It was easy enough to park at Stanmore Tube station, and we passed The Hive, home to Barnet FC’s training facilities, and potentially their new stadium too, between Stanmore and Canons Park. It’s just 4 stops to Wembley Park, so there was plenty of time to collect out tickets, and enjoy a local chinese meal. After that it was a short walk to beneath the Bobby Moore statue to the hospitality entrance. Our tickets gave us access to the Bobby Moore lounge, which gives you a large bar and food area behind the seats directly below the Royal box. We got a free programme and team sheet, and noticed that food and drink prices were just as stupidly expensive as everywhere else in the ground. £8 for a burger is way beyond a joke.
Our seats were just to the right of the dugouts, a few feet from where the “Wally with the brolly” once forlornly stood, and on a sunny day I did notice there wasn’t much roof over our heads. However padded seats and armrests are not to be sniffed at, and there was a little clip in front of you for your programme!
What was utterly lacking was a half decent attendance. With this being an all Northern League final, that league’s policy of not taking promotions due to excessive travelling was borne out by the 85,000 or so empty seats! In these straitened times though the FA should take most of the blame. This is a competition for clubs a minimum of 5 promotions from Football League status so to ask people to spend £25 a ticket (no concessions) plus £4 for £2 worth of programme, plus the cost of getting there, is at best insensitive and at worst crass. Surely charging £10 each would have produced a better crowd and more revenue. The alternative would be to move the final to somewhere more suitable, although one hopper’s idea of Hartlepool was I think a little wide of the mark. I did comment though that it would have been a darned sight nearer for both sides to have played at Hampden Park.
The game saw Dunston take on the World Champions as West Auckland famously won the Thomas Lipton Trophy representing England in 1909 and again in 1911. On this occasion West Auckland were undone by the predatory Andrew Bulford who completed the feat of scoring in each tie. While West Auckland had far more possession, they created few chances and once Bulford latched on to a Stephen Goddard flick-on, he opened the scoring with a neat lob over keeper Mark Bell.
The second half carried on in much the same vein, and when West Auckland switched to 3 at the back in search of a goal, it was inevitable that there would be more space for Dunston to exploit. And exploit they did. Bulford hit the post, and soon after strike partner Goddard did exactly the same. The two combined nicely for the winner, Goddard again flicked on, and Bulford capitalised on hesitancy in the West Auckland defence to fire past Bell, taking his Vase tally for the season to 15.