For England, Manchester United and even Woking, who a week today will be contesting their third FA Trophy final in four years, regular trips to the twin towers are taken for granted. The Vase, though, represents the real grass roots of the game, where sport does not come second to profit, and Wembley, despite its faults, is still a special place.
A low attendance at last year's final had led to speculation that the lesser of the two national non-League tournaments might be concluded, in future years, at another stadium. It is hoped, though, that both the Football Association and the sponsors realise such a move would severely damage the appeal and status of the Vase. At the start of every campaign, the dream for each competing club is not winning the competition, but reaching Wembley.
Saturday's attendance was 11,098, almost 4,000 up on last year but a long way short of the Vase record: 26,497 for Sudbury Town v Tamworth in 1989. The majority of the crowd were there to cheer on the emphatic victors, Whitby Town, who would have brought many more fans had the final not clashed with the arrival from Australia in the north Yorkshire port of the replica of Captain Cook's ship, Endeavour.
Many Whitby fans, including one club committee member who had a full hotel to look after, could not get time off work to travel to London, but those that made it savoured every moment of the day. Harry Dunn, the Whitby manager, knows all about the Wembley experience, having played in two Trophy finals for Scarborough. "Every time you come to Wembley, it's special," he said after the game. "I told the players to enjoy it, because it may never happen again."
Dunn's players did just that, producing a committed and accomplished performance which showed why they have won the Federation Brewery Northern League and promotion to the UniBond League. Their opponents from east Yorkshire, North Ferriby, were tired and ragged by the end, although they did not let themselves down and helped to make the final a pleasing game. "The scoreline was harsh on Ferriby, without a doubt," Dunn admitted. "They played decent football."
Whitby profited from their bold, attacking endeavour, and both full-backs, David Logan and Graeme Williams, found the net either side of half-time with fierce, well-placed shots. Andy Toman completed the scoring late in the game with an acrobatic volley from a narrow angle.
Seven of Whitby's starting line-up, including Toman, were over 30, and their experience helped to give their side the edge, but two youngsters caught the eye and looked capable of playing at a higher level. David Goodchild, 21, produced a composed performance at the heart of the defence, while Graham Robinson, 23, a South African Under-21 international and part-time fashion model, is a tall and quick centre-forward whose talents have already earned him appearances in Middlesbrough's reserve team - and on the catwalk at the Clothes Show Live.
Dunn was a satisfied man afterwards, except for one problem. "We've left the bloody champagne in the hotel," he said.
Goals: Logan (27) 0-1; G Williams (61) 0-2; Toman (75) 0-3.
North Ferriby United (4-4-2): Sharp; Deacey, Brentano, Walmsley, A Smith; Harrison (Horne, 64), M Smith, Phillips (Milner, 69), Tennison; France (Newman, 75), Flounders.
Whitby Town (5-3-2): Campbell; G Williams, Goodchild, Pearson, Cook, Logan; Hodgson, Goodrick (Borthwick, 78), Toman (Pyle, 84); Robinson, Pitman (Hall, 86).
Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire). Bookings: North Ferriby: M Smith, Deacey, A Smith. Whitby: Robinson.
Man of the match: Robinson. Attendance: 11,098.Reuse content