North Shields keeper Sean McCafferty believes Saturday’s FA Vase clash against Ashington at the Daren Persson Stadium will be a great occasion for both sides.
However, the stopper would rather the contest had been in the final at Wembley.
The 24-year-old, nicknamed ‘Sheep’, joined the Shieldsmen in the summer from Whitley Bay and is hoping to get the nod from manager Graham Fenton ahead of the 3pm kick-off.
“It’s probably not the ideal tie and both clubs would have been looking to avoid each other at this stage,” he said.
“Consequently, when I heard the draw I had mixed emotions. I’m hoping to play and if selected I’ll be ready to go and it will be a great occasion for both sides.
“I’ll see good friends including Colliers boss Steve Harmison, but Ashington are a good side and I’d much rather we had played this game as the showpiece final at Wembley.
“Hopefully the big crowd will get behind us, but both sides have a lot of quality and the key will be about who turns up on the day.
“We didn’t start the season very well then we had a good run including beating the likes of Morpeth, Guisborough and Dunston.
“We have stalled lately despite playing some good football and are looking forward to it.”
McCafferty is disappointed his good friend James Harmison will not feature for the visitors.
“James helped me get into the Northern League and it’s a shame he can’t play,” he said.
“In the past we have always played on the same side, but never against each other in a competitive game. It would have been interesting.”
After the Vase tie, North Shields and Ashington also meet in quick succession in the Northumberland Senior Cup and a rescheduled league clash, and Ashington-born McCafferty, who lives in Wansbeck, believes the winner of Saturday’s contest will have the edge.
He added: “It’s a funny one. We’ve played West Allotment Celtic in back to back fixtures. They beat us in the first game which got their tails up and gave them momentum in next match so in my opinion, the result of the Vase game is massively important because it will have an affect on the two games which follow.”