Football: Non-league notebook: Wealdstone seek higher things

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The Independent Online
The first qualifying round of the FA Carlsberg Vase does not normally produce the tournament's two Wembley finalists, but there is a chance it may do so this year.

No fewer that 316 teams will be on the Wembley trail in the Vase this weekend. Many of them are little more than village sides but among the likes of Blidworth Miners' Welfare, West Allotment Celtic and Kintbury Rangers are two clubs who aspire to higher things.

Wealdstone were once the best non-League club in the land. They won the double of what is now the GM Vauxhall Conference and the FA Trophy in 1985 but in recent years their fortunes have slumped. They are now in the Second Division of the Isthmian League and thus have to compete in the Vase, in which they travel to Harefield tomorrow, rather than the Trophy.

Braintree Town, like Wealdstone, chose to switch across the non-League pyramid from the Southern to the Isthmian League in order to reduce travelling costs. They won promotion from the Third Division at the first attempt last term and are now well-placed in the Second.

With a strong squad containing several former Colchester United professionals, Braintree have plenty of experience and are widely tipped to go all the way in the Vase. They entertain Swaffham Town tomorrow.

The other favourites for the Vase do not enter the tournament until the second round proper. Among them are several sides with Wembley experience, including Tiverton Town, who thrashed Wimborne 11-1 in the FA Cup last weekend. The Devon side's record in the Screwfix Direct League reads played seven, won seven, scored 31, conceded one.