Football: Tivvy have chance to prove their class

TIVERTON TOWN, according to most informed observers, are the best team at their level of non-League football in the country. Tomorrow they have their first chance since 1993 to prove it, when they take on Tow Law Town in the final of the FA Carlsberg Vase at Wembley.

Five years ago, at their only previous appearance in the Vase final, Tivvy lost 1-0 to big-spending Bridlington Town. No fewer than six of that side will be in their squad tomorrow: Kevin and Jason Smith, Steve Daly, Neil Saunders, Phil Everett and Steve Hynds.

All have played a part in the Devon side's extraordinary season in the Screwfix Direct Western League, which they won by winning 36 and drawing two of their 38 matches, scoring 154 goals and piling up 110 points. Russell Musker, the manager of Taunton Town, runners-up in the Screwfix and semi- final losers to Tow Law in the Vase, believes that Tiverton would beat Tow Law in nine out of 10 matches.

The County Durham side will, of course, be trying to prove him wrong. Tow Law are making their first visit to Wembley - a far cry from their Ironworks ground. Purchased from the National Coal Board in 1966, it has been their home for over a century and is the highest football ground in England.

The club who sold Chris Waddle to Newcastle for pounds 1,500 in 1980 finished mid-table in the Arnott Insurance Northern League, which is of similar strength to the Screwfix. Unlike Tiverton they can boast a player with European experience: Paul Hague, a former Gillingham and Leyton Orient centre-half who has represented Cork City in the European Cup. Up front they can call on Jarrod Suddick, son of Alan, the former Newcastle inside- forward.