SO NOW we know then. Wembley will reverberate to the sound of four sets of supporters on one day – the line-up for the experiment which may shape the future of Non-League’s premier cup competitions has been confirmed. Morpeth, Hereford, Halifax and Grimsby fans will all be under one roof (well, if the weather turns!) The FA Vase kicking off at 12.15pm and the Trophy four hours later. Non-League Finals Day on Sunday May 22, a festival of football, is a one-off but should it be successful, this first will probably not be the last. Credit where it’s due. We’ve banged the drum for this for some time and the Football Association have made a brave call and will try something new and untested to breathe some much needed new life into the games. Make no mistake, it’s a logistical nightmare for them. It’s hard enough to police two sets of supporters, but four – all inside the stadium at one point – will be a
North Shields: FA Vase Winners 2015
challenge, as will the running times. Extra time in the first game and a delayed presentation may get the Wembley suits uncomfortable in the posh seats, while a Sunday Leaguestyle tussle for the changing rooms will see the cleaner’s speed to scrub be tested to its fullest should the FA Vase go the whole way. You could of course argue the only reason the FA are giving this a whirl is because it will save a lot of money having to open Wembley’s heavy doors on two separate weekends, but there’s a fascination and excitement about how the whole day will unfold. They have taken stick. Just when the governing body were getting props for their unconventional methods, they leave themselves exposed to a return to the tutting and the eye-rolling. NonLeague Finals Day isn’t exclusive after all. England are playing, albeit in Manchester and yes later on, the fear is that the Three Lions’ Euro warm up with Turkey will steal national focus.
It’s an opportunity missed to dedicate a day to the Trophy and the Vase. There’s no reason at why England couldn’t play on the Saturday and leave all the attention to what’s going on under the Arch. But let’s not hammer the FA at every chance possible. The point remains that they have taken a gamble, risked the wrath of the traditionalists and brought life to both competitions when it was desperately needed.Yet the biggest thumbs up must be for the prices – rarely will you say that about Wembley. You can watch the entire day for £25, with concessions for £10. Do you know a youngster who has yet to see their national stadium? Bring them along for £1. In fairness, it’s a fantastic bargain. Just remember to bring your own sarnies! Sam Elliott Follow us on twitter: @NonLeaguePaper @SteveConey_NLP