Dreams of Wembley for Bishop Sutton

Non-League notebook
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The Independent Online
Non-League notebook


While the four remaining non-League clubs in the FA Cup - Enfield, Woking, Cinderford and Gravesend - prepare for next week's second-round replays, 64 teams for whom an appearance at Wembley is a far more realistic dream will be engaged in the third round of the FA Vase tomorrow.

Only one of the tournament's previous winners will be in action: Diss, the 1994 victors, travel to Slade Green. Neither of last season's finalists are involved: Oxford City have been promoted to the FA Trophy while the Vase holders, Arlesey, were knocked out in the second round by Thamesmead. Another shock result at that stage saw Dorking, who only three seasons ago gave Peter Shilton's Plymouth side a tough game in the FA Cup, lose 2-0 in a replay at Bishop Sutton.

It is the progress of clubs like Bishop Sutton that gives the Vase its special flavour. While the later rounds of the Trophy usually feature clubs familiar with high-profile fixtures in both the FA Cup and Trophy, the Vase is more representative of the grass roots of the game.

Bishop Sutton, based in the Chew Valley just south of Bristol, are very much a village side: their little ground, with no seats or floodlights, is tucked away behind the Butcher's Arms pub, and all their players live locally. After their heroics against Dorking, tomorrow the Great Mills Western League team travel to the New Forest for a tie against Lymington.

"We really are a family club," Roy Penney, Bishop Sutton's secretary, said last night. "When we went to Dorking, we took our gateman, his wife and our ball boy with us and we'll be doing the same at Lymington. Whatever the result, we'll have a bloody good day out."