Non-League notebook: A grand day out for the unsung heroes

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The Independent Online
Next week the likes of Juninho and Zola will be preparing to play in the FA Cup final but tomorrow it is the turn of Paul Pitman, Steve Brentano and 20 or so other players to enjoy a day out at Wembley.

Like last year, the FA Carlsberg Vase final brings together two clubs from northern England: Whitby Town and North Ferriby United. For Whitby it is the culmination of a triumphant season in which they have won the Federation Brewery Northern League and have secured promotion to the UniBond League. This makes up for the events of 1993, when they won the Northern League for the first time but were denied promotion by an unfortunate outbreak of inter-league politics.

Whitby's main man up front is Pitman, who scored a last-minute winner in the Vase semi-finals to see off Banstead Athletic. Pitman has been with the North Yorkshire club for 12 years and has scored well over 300 goals for them. Their manager is Harry Dunn, who helped to build the Scarborough side taken in to the Football League by Neil Warnock. He also played for Scarborough in two FA Trophy finals.

North Ferriby, from the Northern Counties East League, are captained by Brentano, who, along with his team-mate Bobby McNeill, won the Vase with Bridlington Town in 1992. Their squad also includes two other men to taste Vase glory: Andy Flounders with Brigg, who beat Clitheroe last season, and Mark Tennison with Guiseley in 1991. The East Yorkshire club's player-manager is Tim Hotte, once an apprentice with Arsenal.

Contrasting fortunes face two Staffordshire clubs. Eastwood Hanley are to fold at the end of the season due to moutning debts while Stafford Rangers, who slid from the GM Vauxhall Conference to the Dr Martens League Midland Division during the last two years, have been taken over by a local businessman, David Parker, who has halted the sale of their Marston Road ground.

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