Non-League Football: Gidman in the swing again: Former England full-back seeks Wembley return

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FOR one of the 32 managers preparing for tomorrow's fourth-round ties in the the FA Vase, the prospect of a run to Wembley is nothing new, writes Rupert Metcalf.

John Gidman, who is in his first season as the full-time manager of the Norfolk club, King's Lynn, played at right-back for Manchester United in the 1985 FA Cup final, eight years after turning out for Aston Villa in a League Cup final - both against Everton, another of his former clubs. His sole appearance for England, against Luxembourg in 1977, was also at Wembley.

King's Lynn may be near the bottom of the Beazer Homes League Midland Division, but they have equalled their best run in the Vase by reaching the fourth round. Tomorrow they entertain Nantwich Town, from Cheshire, who are in fourth place in the Carling North-West Counties League. 'The Vase is very important to this club,' Gidman, who was 40 on Monday, said last night. 'Nantwich are a good side, and we've got our hands full.

'Despite our league position, I'm happy with the way we're playing,' added Gidman, who has recruited Tony Godden, the former West Bromwich goalkeeper, as his No 2. 'I'm enjoying the job, although sometimes I have to bite my lip with players who can't turn up for training. I think that if you can manage one of these clubs, you can handle a job at a Football League club.'

After finishing his League playing career at Darlington five years ago, Gidman spent some time out of the full-time game before being recommended to King's Lynn by Leicester's Brian Little, his former manager at Darlington. 'After playing professional football since 1972, I was a bit stale,' he said. 'Last summer, though, I felt it was time to get back into the game.'