Bay’s bid to make history will draw fan-tastic turnout

HISTORY could be made this weekend as Whitley Bay Football Club head to Wembley in the hope of lifting the FA Vase for a record fourth time.

If they beat Leicestershire’s Coalville Town, the Seahorses will also become the first team to win the trophy three years on the trot.

More than 4,000 Whitley Bay fans are set to make the 285-mile journey to the London ground – and distance isn’t an issue for one supporter travelling all the way from Thailand to watch the game.

Mike Lancaster was born in North Shields and spent the early years of his life in Whitley Bay, but he has worked in Pattaya in Thailand for the past two years.

He’ll be back in Britain for Sunday’s game, however, as he was due to travel to London today.

The 62-year-old said: “It seemed like too good an opportunity to miss. I was due to come home at some point for a break anyway, and when I heard the match was on, I phoned up and bought my ticket.

“Newcastle United are my first love, but I always keep an eye on Whitley Bay because it is where I grew up.

“I missed the first two games at Wembley, so I thought this was too good an opportunity to let pass.”

Mike, a development director for the children’s charity the Father Ray Foundation, has only bought one ticket for the game, but he will be surrounded by thousands of Whitley Bay fans travelling south to show their support.

Chairman Paul McIlduff said: “We have sold about 4,000 tickets, and that includes ones sold to people all over the world.

“We have sold tickets to people coming from California and Thailand, and some are coming over from Ireland.

“We want as many people there to support the club as possible and hopefully see us make history.

“It will be a fantastic occasion for everyone involved.”

With the final just days away, fans and business are showing their support for the team, and around 200 East Coast Taxis are travelling around the north east with blue and white stickers on the sides of their vehicles.

Paul Irwin, of the Whitley Bay-based firm said: “We have always had a good relationship with the football club over 20 years of being in business.

“For them to make it to Wembley for the third time is amazing. It’s great for the town, and we wish them all the best.”

Last year’s FA Vase final, a 6-1 win against Wroxham, attracted a turnout of 8,920, and the year before’s 2-0 defeat of Glossop North End was watched by a crowd of 12, 212.

Tickets, priced £25 for adults and £15 for concessions, are on sale at venues including the News Guardian office in Park View, Whitley Bay.

n Don’t miss our four-page FA Vase preview pullout inside.