By Mark Carruthers
FA Vase legend Paul Chow has reflected on his goal-laden career after announcing his retirement last week.
The 38-year-old was a Wembley winner on three occasions with Whitley Bay and still holds the record for the fastest cup final goal scored at the new national stadium.
It was with Jarrow Roofing that Chow first showcased his goalscoring prowess, but a move to the Bay saw his career take off.
The striker plundered his way to 270 goals during his time at Hillheads, as the Northern League club won the Vase on three consecutive occasions between 2009 and 2011.
It was during the 2010 final that Chow wrote his name into Wembley folklore, as he found the net after just 21 seconds to put his side on their way to a 6-1 hammering of Wroxham.
But it was a Wembley goal scored 12 months earlier that he rates above any of the 480 he hit during his 20-year career.
“Everyone will think that the record-breaking goal would be my favourite,” explained the striker.
“But the goal against Glossop North End in 2009 actually meant more.
“We had got to the semi-finals in the season before that and we were so close to getting to Wembley.
“We were hammered at Lowestoft Town in the first leg of the 2008 semi-final and they beat us 4-0 at their place.
“We came close to turning it around at home and won 3-0, but we couldn’t find an equaliser.
“It hurt when we didn’t get there, so to finally walk out there in 2009 and to get a goal meant everything to me.
“I can’t explain that feeling of seeing the ball hit the back of the net, but it was very special, and it still gives me goosebumps now.”
Chow spent three spells with Jarrow Roofing during his career, became club legend with Whitley Bay and found the net on a regular basis during a short stint with Durham City.
But he made the final appearance of his career in the colours of hometown club Hebburn Town as they brought an end to their first season back amongst the Northern League’s elite with a home game against Consett.
Chow was honoured before and after the game, and he admitted that the time was right to bring an end to his career.
“I have a young family and I’m not getting any younger myself.
“I still feel that I could do it next season, but I want to end things on a high. I have been tempted to take a break from the game in the past and decided against it.
“I have had a good career and I know from what some of my old team-mates tell me that it hasn’t been a bad career for a donkey.
“I have had a great career, and played alongside some top players like Lee Kerr, Chris Moore and Paul Robinson. Some of them are still playing now and are still doing great things.
“There were people like Mark Taylor, who continues to be an inspiration and I can’t forget Robbie Livermore either.
“I’ll look back and I will have a lot of great memories.
“I think I have been part of the furniture in the Northern League for too long, and the time is right to end things here and pass the baton on to the younger strikers.”