Swanage Town and Herston FC vs. Newport Isle of Wight FC
FA Vase First Round
Saturday 13th October 2012
Final Score: 0-2
Every football fan has heard of the FA Cup – arguably the most famous and historical domestic cup competition in the world. Organised by the English FA, it is the centrepiece of football tradition.
Slightly less known are the other annual FA charter competitions. The FA Trophy is for teams playing below the Football League (The National game step 1-4) and the FA Vase, for teams competing below this level. Whilst the FA Cup is the pinnacle of domestic cup competition, the Trophy and Vase are held in high regard by the majority of the clubs involved. For footballers across the land, a chance to play at Wembley in the final is a dream.
The route to the Vase final has already begun. In fact, two qualifying rounds have already been played. Now, it was time for the first round proper.
Swanage Town and Herston FC had already caused a couple of minor upsets to get to the first round. Victories against Andover New Street and US Portsmouth (both of which play in higher leagues) had propelled the Swans into the first round to face a tough home tie against a much fancied Newport from the nearby Isle of Wight.
A feverish crowd had turned up to Day’s Park, home of the Swans. Day’s Park is located just around the corner from the beautiful seafront of Swanage. The ground is creaking at the seams (to put it politely) but has a fabulous charm about it. Covered seating is located someway behind the dugouts with terracing on the opposite side. The only seating behind the goals comes courtesy of a couple of memorial benches. The players make their entrance from an unusually lofty position… down the steps from the top of the clubhouse. The ground has a distinctive slope to it and there are many higher vantage points of which spectators can take in the game, and wonderful scenery.
The buzz of another ‘giant killing’ was evident amongst the partisan crowd. The atmosphere was great. Kids played football behind the goal. Pints were downed in the unseasonal October sunshine. A cake stall was set up to raise money for the youth teams… Swanage and the 203 fans in attendance were ready, despite the predictions that Newport would run out easy victors.
With the crowd behind them, Swanage started well, causing the ‘Port trouble from the off. Whilst not technically brilliant, the Swans had the wind in their sails. However, it didn’t take long for the class of Newport to show. The Swans almost held out until half time but on 39 minutes, Port’s Ross Gregory slotted home to take the visitors into the break one goal to the good.
The second half saw an increasing amount of dominance from Newport. Swanage huffed and puffed but couldn’t muster any serious threat. However, with only one goal separating the sides, it would only take one moment of brilliance – or recklessness, to level the scores. Alas, neither happened and the game was put to bed with 10 minutes left when Darren Powell smashed home to make it two-nil. Swanage had nothing left in the tank and the game fizzled out with Newport progressing to the second round to face the chocolaty-named Cadbury Heath. Credit must go to Swanage for putting up a brave display against a team two steps higher in the national pyramid and even more credit to the staff, supporters and volunteers at Day’s Park for being part of a fantastic day out.