North Shields goal scoring machine Gareth Bainbridge cannot wait for his side’s FA Vase showdown against his former club Ashington on Saturday.
The Newcastle-born striker engraved his own piece of personal glory into the history books during his five years with the Wansbeck side, having scored the last ever goal at the old Portland Park and the first at Woodhorn Lane.But Burradon-based Bainbridge, who turned 30 last month, reckons he has a point to prove this weekend.
Now in his third season with the Robins, Bainbridge excelled in his debut campaign scoring 55 goals, which earned him the Northern League Player of the Year award.
Then his haul of 49 last term saw him win the BBC Newcastle Player of the Year trophy.
And he has an FA Vase winners medal after the Shieldsmen came from behind to defeat Glossop North End 2-1 in extra time in May.
A care home manager in Sunderland, Bainbridge said ahead of the tie: “It’s obviously disappointing that we have drawn another Northern League side rather than a team from another part of the country, but from a personal level I’m quite excited about playing Ashington and am looking forward to it.
“It gives me the opportunity to prove a few people wrong, knowing what I could have been doing had I stayed at Ashington.
“However, from a team aspect this is just another game where we will prepare in our usual professional manner.”
Casting his mind back to the Wembley win in March, Bainbridge said: “Without exaggerating this was the best day of life and sharing the occasion and feat with so many family members was tremendous.
“There were five weeks between the second leg of the semi-final and the final, which was full of media coverage and which propelled North Shields massively as both a club and a town.”
In the final, the Shieldsmen went a goal down before Bainbridge netted the equaliser with a header from a corner.
“I have tried to describe the feeling of scoring at Wembley 100 times over but it’s simply indescribable,” he said.
“I felt there was a lot of pressure on my shoulders and it was a release.
“It got us back into the game with eight minutes to go and from that moment I never felt we were going to lose.
“I’d love to do it all over again.”
Adam Forster got an extra time winner for the North Tyneside outfit and Bainbridge recalls: “Adam was struggling for fitness leading up to the final and that was probably why he didn’t start.
“We joked on with him as he was doing block tackling with manager Graham Fenton in the hotel room on the morning of the game, then he emerged as our match winner.
“The script could not have been written any better.”