Non-League Football: Punton's wait ends

BILL PUNTON, the manager of Diss Town, has been waiting a long time to play a part in a Wembley Cup final.

Punton, 60 this week, has guided the little Norfolk club to tomorrow's FA Vase final against Taunton Town. A left winger who made more than 300 Football League appearances for five clubs, he was 13th man (in the days before substitutes) in the Newcastle United squad for the 1955 FA Cup final against Manchester City.

Punton played (and scored) for Norwich City when they beat Rochdale in the 1962 League Cup final. Since the end of his playing days he has become the longest-serving manager in East Anglian non- League football, and during a 20-year spell with Great Yarmouth, he tasted defeat in the semi-finals of the Vase in 1983.

The Jewson Eastern Counties League side can boast one player with experience of a Wembley final: the 33-year-old midfielder, Peter Mendham, an unsung team-mate of John Deehan, Steve Bruce and Mick Channon when Norwich won the Milk Cup nine years ago.

Taunton's left-back, the 37- year-old Alan Walsh, will be completing a hat-trick of Wembley appearances: he played in two Freight Rover Trophy finals for Bristol City. The Somerset club's assistant manager, David Jenkins, appeared at Wembley as a 21- year-old for Arsenal when they lost the 1968 League Cup final to Leeds United.

The Great Mills Western League will be looking to Andy Perrett for goals: the 30-year- old fork-lift truck driver has scored 62 in all competitions this season, after hitting 60 for Clevedon Town last term.

Away from Wembley, Kidderminster Harriers are crawling rather than cruising

towards the GM Vauxhall Conference title. After defeats at Halifax and Telford this week, they entertain Altrincham in their last game tomorrow with a three-point lead over Kettering.