Bay one win from history

WHITLEY Bay FC stand on the brink of history this weekend as they attempt to write their name in the record books by winning an unprecedented fourth FA Vase and the third consecutive at the new Wembley Stadium.

At any level of the game, to win a national trophy three years in a row is almost unheard of, and even now, it is hard to take in the magnitude of what could be achieved on Sunday beneath the Wembley Arch.

Glossop North End were beaten 2-0 in 2009, then last year a record-breaking 6-1 win sunk Wroxham.

Now only Coalville Town stand in the way of Ian Chandler’s side.

Indications are this will be a closer game than the previous two finals, with Coalville winning the Midland Alliance championship last weekend with a thumping 9-0 away win.

The Leicestershire side have racked up more than 150 goals in their league campaign and pose a serious attacking threat.

Whitley will be hoping that their experience of the big occasion will count in their favour, since this is the first time that Coalville, or indeed any Leicestershire side, has reached this stage of the competition.

Bay have watched their opponents in preparation for Sunday’s final.

For Whitley, the fitness of striker Paul Chow will be a key factor.

The man who has scored in every round of this year’s competition, including a hat-trick in the semi-final second leg against Poole Town, had been a doubt since suffering a sprained ankle three weeks ago, but having played a part in the last two league games he looks likely to be fit for the big day.

There are more serious fitness doubts over Callum Anderson, who made his comeback from injury when he played 30 minutes at Newcastle Benfield on Monday, and especially Steve Gibson, who suffered a hamstring injury at Billingham Town last week.

Both players will be desperate to be fit for Wembley, in particular Gibson, who joined the club in the summer and has yet to experience a Vase final.

Other players who will be looking forward to their first Wembley appearance include Kyle Hayes, Brian Smith, Brian Rowe, David Pounder, Gareth Williams and Gary Ormston.

Competition for places in the side is such that some of these players may be disappointed and some will at best have to settle for a place on the bench.

Tickets for the game are available at Hillheads Park until Thursday evening, as will seats on the supporters’ coaches which will be travelling to Wembley on Sunday morning.

The game kicks off at 3pm and for those unable to make the journey to see Whitley attempt to make history, full match commentary on the game will be provided by BBC Newcastle in a programme lasting from 2pm to 5.30pm.

The team will be travelling down to London on Saturday and will return, hopefully with the FA Vase, on Monday.