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Saturday 4th May 2013 ko 15.00

FA Vase Final

SPENNYMOOR TOWN 2 (Cogdon 18 Graydon 80)

TUNBRIDGE WELLS 1 (Stanford 78)

Att 16,751 at Wembley Stadium

Entry- Complementary

Programme £4

Team sheet Comp

For a while I’ve applied an acid test to all newly constructed stadia, called the, “Dad Test,” and its simple, can my 77-year-old father use it? He’s not particularly fleet of foot these days so long flights of stairs, and standing for long periods are a no-no. With the rebuilt Wembley having virtually no parking and public transport being actively “encouraged” the ground looked a bit of non-starter for him.

But when 2 complimentary hospitality tickets arrived, we decided to give it a go. Its easy enough to park at Hillingdon Tube, and there’s a lift to platform level too. Normally you simply take a Metropolitan Line train direct to Wembley Park, but engineering work meant a bus ride from Rayners Lane, a pain, but Dad did get a seat, and all that remained was a leisurely stroll down Wembley Way. There are stairs to the entrance, but that didn’t prove to be too much of an issue, and he found it simple enough to get to our section above the dugouts, and underneath the Royal Box.

A lot has been said about the performance of Wembley’s stewards at the FA cup semi-final when there was trouble in the Millwall end. I have to say the stewards treatment of Dad was exemplary. They let him sit at a seat right at the back of the section, so there were no more stairs to negotiate, and they made it quite clear that if there was anything he needed they’d help. Well done to them, and many thanks.

With their help Dad enjoyed his day out at what I feel is now non-league football’s big day, out and yes, Wembley does pass the “Dad Test.” Many other stadia wouldn’t, an example of a fail would be the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, he’d never manage all those stairs and there isn’t an escalator in sight.

For me the big change from last year’s final was the attendance. Over 3 times the attendance, helped by having a team from the South East involved, but also due to charging £15 a ticket rather than £25 last year. I have little doubt that the revenues increased as a result; it shows that sometimes you just have to give a little.

What didn’t change from last year was the utter domination of the Northern League over this competition. For a variety of reasons the league discourages promotion, so there is never a lack of clubs who punch above Step 5 weight, and this for me proved the point.

2-1 greatly flattered Tunbridge, who gave little evidence that they could give their fans a trophy to celebrate. Spennymoor dominated with the prolific Gavin Cogdon to the fore, and it came as no surprise when they took the lead. Tunbridge’s Josh Stanford and Lewis Mingle got in each other’s way at the far post. Stanford’s poor clearance fell to Kevin Graydon on the edge of the box and his cross went to Cogdon who headed home at the far post.

Tunbridge only found their feet on 58 minutes when Jack Harris and Tom Davey were introduced. It finally gave the Spennymoor defence something to think about and on 78 minutes they gained an equaliser they hardly deserved.  Jon Pilbeam crossed from the right was missed by goalkeeper Rob Dean, who was under pressure from  Andy Irvine, and there was Josh Stanford to slide home from 10 yards.

It produced the loudest cheer of the afternoon, by parity lasted a mere 2 minutes, and typically Gavin Cogdon was to the fore. He received the ball in the 18 yard box and despite the close attention of the defence he managed to pass back to Keith Graydon who thundered a shot past Chris Oladogba in the Tunbridge goal. Justice, and despite Tunbridge throwing everything forward in the final few minutes, Spennymoor held firm.