“I had a strong feeling it was Shields destiny to win the Vase”

North Shields players celebrate at the final whistle after extra time. Picture by Ian Warde.
North Shields players celebrate at the final whistle after extra time. Picture by Ian Warde.

Former North Shields player and manager Wilf Keilty was among the 5,000 Robins fans cheering on his side at Wembley.

And here he talks about the view from the stands and his emotions at watching his side lift the FA Vase after beating Glossop North End 2-1 after extra time.

Having played, coached or managed many hundreds of games for the Robins spanning the 80s, 90s and 2000s I think I’d conned myself into thinking this match would be a non-pressurised, relaxing affair where I could sit calmly watching the lads go about their business. Not so!

I attended the game with my two sons Nick and Andrew, long time Robins fans and long suffering Newcastle fans!

Like me they were caught up in an electric atmosphere created by the fabulous Robins supporters and the captivating game that left us all drained physically and emotionally.

However it laid to rest a few demons for both me, as I had only ever experienced seeing teams I’d supported live at Wembley lose until now and SuperMac the club president who had only ever experienced defeats when playing there.

The 120 minutes last Saturday was a reflection in many ways of my long association with the Robins, some high points, some low points, never a dull moment along the way and eventually a happy outcome!

The game itself was tough for the young lads of Shields, competing not just with a very well organised, strong and athletic Glossop side but with a pitch that despite its immaculate condition was never the less energy sapping and demanding.

Many football players and managers have a few superstitions and I’m no exception.

Throughout this campaign I’ve had a strong feeling that it was Shields destiny to win the Vase this year but even I have to admit to wavering on that front for the first time as it got past 75 minutes and they were still trailing one nil.

It’s at times like that you need some alternative interventions and the Robins got two such inspirational interventions. First of all Gareth Bainbridge, whose right and left feet have plundered goals a plenty, came up with a headed equaliser from a set piece corner which would no doubt please the Management Team who had probably worked long and hard things like that in training.

Time was ebbing away for Shields until then but great managers and great players find a way and this young team has both.

Once the equaliser had gone in I returned to my positive thoughts of destiny, only one winner now.

The winning goal was worthy of a Wembley Final, a great run and cross by man of the match Denver Morris but when it got to substitute Adam Foster coming in from an unfamiliar wide left position (the second inspirational intervention) he still had plenty to do but passed home the winner in a fashion Messi would have been chuffed with!

So there it is a fantastic achievement that sees North Shields return to the top echelons of north east non-league football.

I’d like to finish my piece with some well-deserved acknowledgements and thanks.

To the current Management Team and players for their commitment and professionalism in winning the FA Vase.

To both the current committee and to chairman Alan Matthews and his original loyal committee of Trevor Campbell, Mike Taylor, Dave Thompson and Joe Cave and one more sadly no longer with us John Carr (God bless you John this one’s for you mate).

Without these guys there would be no Vase win because there would be no North Shields FC following the debacle and loss of Appleby Park in 1992.

To Malcolm “SuperMac” MacDonald our unselfish and ever supportive Club President.

To the players of 1969 who have served as inspiration in helping get the Robins back to being national champions.

We have new heroes now and lovely though it is to nostalgically reminisce about our journey back to the big time, its time to focus on the here and now and continuing to drive the club forward because its in good hands.

And finally to the fantastic Robins supporters who made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck last weekend.

I don’t know about Ultras but for me (and I hope they’ll forgive me) they will always be Tina’s – SIMPLY THE BEST!!