Sunday 19th May marks the culmination of the non-league season at Wembley where four teams will battle it out to win the FA Trophy and FA Vase.
Since 2016, both finals have been played on the same day due to dwindling attendances and this move seems to have invigorated both competitions with cheap tickets to watch two games of football. The combined day has seen huge followings for at least one of the four finalists, National League Bromley taking around 20,000 supporters last year and Hereford near on 40,000 for the 2015-16 Vase final.
This year there will be new names on both trophies but hopefully no let up in ticket sales. Tickets for the neutral areas are already on sale with club specific tickets available in a few weeks after second leg matches have been concluded.
The question is, which sides will be facing off in the respective finals? Starting with the Trophy, Leyton Orient will fancy their chances of completing the double this season, celebrating a return to the Football League and Wembley glory.
AFC Telford however, will be no pushovers, themselves aiming for a National League North play-off place and Justin Edinburgh will know Orient have to come out all guns blazing in the first leg and take a good advantage on their travels.
The other semi final is harder to call between AFC Fylde and Stockport County. Both sides are having fantastic seasons in their respective divisions and pushing for both automatic promotion and at worse a play-off place.
After a few lean years County are being roared on by some strong passionate and good sized crowds and having a ‘twelfth man’ off the pitch will be of great help, especially if they can keep things tight in the first leg and give themselves a great chance at home.
The Vase has a very southern feel to it and that can’t be said too often in the last 10-15 years. The northern half of non-league have dominated this competition recently winning eight of the last ten finals, but with only a single representative in the last four, could this be a second win in a row for southern teams?
The South Eastern Counties League will definitely have a team in the final after Canterbury City drew Cray Valley whilst Chertsey Town have the chance to make it an all southern final if they can see off Northwich Victoria.
On paper it would suggest it’s going to be a Cray Valley – Chertsey final, given the league form of the two sides, Cray still with an outside chance of promotion whilst Chertsey’s amount of games in hand, provided they can win them, winning the Cherry Red Combined Counties League is not beyond them.
But neither Canterbury nor Northwich can be written off, playing a team from your own division for a place at Wembley should see too very tight games for Canterbury and Cray Valley as both sides know each other well.
Northwich meanwhile are out of contention for their league title and these two games represent their best chance of glory this season, but they will have to be at their very best and hope they have something to defend in the second leg or the Vase will be finding its way south for the second successive year.
Written by Trevor Knell
Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37
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