Non-League Football: Tiverton's own Tyke steps out at Wembley at the age of 39: Wycombe seek to wrap up a Conference and Trophy double as Bridlington try to stop a Devon club's dream

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The Independent Online
WEMBLEY will be the focus of attention for the semi-professional fraternity this weekend, with Wycombe Wanderers meeting Runcorn in the Vauxhall FA Trophy final on Sunday and the two Towns - Bridlington and Tiverton - contesting the FA Vase final tomorrow.

While Wycombe's quest to emulate Colchester United's feat last season and complete the Conference and Trophy 'double' is receiving most of the publicity, it is the final of the Vase - the tournament for the smaller non-League clubs - that represents the true grass roots of the game. For Tiverton, a trip to Wembley is a special event that may never be repeated.

The Devon club, who have finished second in the Great Mills League, have plenty of stalwarts of the non-League game in their ranks - men who have played for years for the love of their sport, not for great financial reward.

Hedley Steele, the 39-year-old Tiverton captain and sweeper, is one such player. A Yorkshireman, Steele joined Exeter City from Tiverton in 1974 but was released two years later after making seven League appearances.

He has since played for Dorchester, Elmore, Weymouth - where he signed on the same day as Andy Townsend and Tony Agana - and Gloucester before returning to Tiverton in 1987. For all his travels, Steele, a housing officer with Devon County Council, has never been close to playing in a Wembley final.

'It's still sinking in that I've got there now, at my age,' he said. 'It will be a great day. Playing in a good side like this makes it easy to enjoy my game. Supporters say to me 'Wembley will be a nice way to finish' - but I'm not ready to retire yet. As long as the legs keep going, I'll keep playing.'

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