NEXT to their two World Cups there is a space in West Auckland Town’s trophy cabinet the FA Vase would fit in quite nicely.
In 1909 West, representing England, won the Thomas Lipton Trophy – a competition between the leading clubs of Europe – by beating Swiss side FC Winterthur.
Just two years later they won it again by beating Italian giants Juventus.
It’s an honour the Northern League club are rightly proud of and display it with pride on their badge.
How they’d love to write FA Vase winners into their illustrious history – and having disappointed two years ago in the final against Dunston UTS, manager Peter Dixon wants to make amends.
“It’s a great club, it has a unique history,” said Dixon, whose side lost 2-0 to league rivals Dunston in 2012. “It would be nice to re-write history in terms of adding an FA Vase to it. This will be the third time we’ve been to Wembley – once two seasons’ ago and they came in the 50s in the Amateur Cup and got beat. Hopefully we can put that right this time.”
Dixon is consciously changing the build-up to the big day this year. Instead of leaving their first glimpse of Wembley’s iconic arch to the day, this time they will come before to take pictures and soak up the surroundings.
Not that all their preparations have been smooth. Dixon admits he has a chip on his shoulder the Northern League forced them to play Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday-Friday in the week just gone when Spennymoor were allowed to play seven games after their win last season.
Should they beat Sholing on Saturday they will stretch the Northern League’s stranglehold on the competition to a sixth year in a row.
Dixon is more worried about doing it for his club as well as disposing of their nearly men tag.
“I was only ever a Sunday morning player,” Dixon said. “The highest level I played was for the County when I was 16. I fell out of love with football and put loads of weight on.
“I started off managing the Foresters Arms and I worked my way through the leagues. I’ve managed at every level and been successful really but this is the pinnacle.
“It’s almost like it’s written in the stars. My forte is man-management. I’ve got good people around me like my assistant Paul Foster and my coach Craig McRobie. They are a massive help.
“Foz and I have got an in-built filter where people who aren’t here for the right reasons don’t last very long.
“The dressing room is an unbelievable place to be. It’s conducive to football and conducive to togetherness. And we’ve got a real win at all costs attitude – which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea by the way. There’s a school of thought it’s about taking part. I don’t subscribe to that, it’s about winning games.
“What we’ve achieved without winning any silverware is unbelievable. Someone said to me, ‘You can’t lose at Wembley, you can only be a runner-up’.
“It’s probably true because we had a great weekend last time even though we got beat. But it would be great to go one better.”
*This article first appeared in The Non-League Paper on Sunday, May 4