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 Post subject: BUGLE No.5
PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2018 11:46 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 1:23 pm
Posts: 7
TIME FOR AN FA VASE REVAMP?

It’s the competition all Northern League clubs want to win - and for good reason too! For no other league within the step 5,6 & 7 pyramid system, have provided the number of finalists, indeed the number of winners of this illustrious national cup than the Northern League. Below is a list of NL clubs who have reached the final since 2000 only.

Whitley Bay: 4 wins
Dunston: 1 win
North Shields: 1 win
Morpeth Town: 1 win
South Shields: (now Northern Premier North) 1 win
West Auckland Town: 2 times losing finalists
Spennymoor Town: (now National North) 1 win

And either Stockton Town or Marske United will face Thatcham Town or 1874 Northwich Victoria in the final at Wembley.

Last season, we enjoyed an excellent run in the competition, winning five matches before losing to eventual finalists Cleethorpes Town in the 4th round. What would us supporters give for another run in the competition next season? And why does the Northern League lead the way in terms of quality? The simple answer is geographics!!
Historically, NL clubs have loathed the idea of promotion, predominantly because of logistical issues that would subsequently become financial issues. The FA are trying to alter the league structure in an attempt to make the system more of a level playing field. The idea of an East/West system rather than the farcical current North/South system has unsurprisingly been met with derision from many within the Northern League. The doubters use Morpeth Town as an indicator for their defence. For under the new system, they could be forced into midweek travels to places such as Peterborough or Bridlington but they also use the travel trump card to avoid places such as Clitheroe, Glossop or even Garforth. Surely the East/West terminology shouldn’t be taken as literal. For arguments sake, if Morpeth won the league, nobody would expect them to play in Norwich, Colchester or even Hastings because they are geographically on the eastern side of England. I would imagine there would be an North/Central East and then South/Central East followed by North/Central West and South/Central West format. This seems to be the best panacea on offer when you take into consideration England’s topography and road networks. The Pennines are a natural barrier between East and West, not to mention the traffic between cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Hull and into the North East. The idea of East and West isn’t a perfect one, but it could be a fair concept and at the moment, the NL enjoys a virtual monopoly on the FA Vase within the current system. Promotion shouldn’t be optional and it’s about time NL clubs played ball. Change is needed and at least the FA are trying to fix the problem. That is to take nothing away from Stockton & Marske’s achievements this season but the most telling comments comes from supporters of both clubs who stated “the FA Vase fixtures were easier when the draw became nationalised”. In other words, the quality of the opposition in the north is much stronger than in the south. Only Spennymoor Town and South Shields have taken promotion after winning the Vase; some of the other NL clubs to have won it or have reached the final have subsequently not taken that option (if the said club finished in the top two - Spennymoor dominated the league for four out of five seasons ). If the top six or eight clubs in the NL, jumped up a level then the FA Vase will become more competitive and allows clubs such as Redcar Athletic the ability to join the NL along with the likes of Boldon C.A, Birtley Town etc. That would mean the Wearside League/Northern Alliance and the old Teesside League could amalgamate to make those competitions stronger (subject to ground grading requirements) and make the progression up the pyramid somewhat easier. Stockton Town are a case in point where a club can make the transition and it wasn’t that long ago Marske were just a village team in the Wearside League! And of course if a change provides Town a chance of winning a few rounds then all the better for it!


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