(Match photos courtesy of Peter Jackson)
Its FA Vase weekend in good ol’ Bishop Auckland, or it will be on Saturday afternoon (2 November) as the Two Blues entertain neighbours West Auckland in the Second Round, kick-off at 3pm.
Ten times winners of the FA Amateur Cup, the last being in 1957 when defeating Wycombe Wanderers 3-1, Bishops have only tasted limited success in recent seasons with only the Durham Challenge Cup coming to Heritage Park in 2001, 2002 and 2013 to their name.
In fact the Second Round of the Vase is the furthest in which the club has reached, doing so in 2015 before succumbing to 1874 Northwich, the competition providing better memories for other Northern League clubs, including manager Ian Chandler and one of his former sides, Whitley Bay.
Even neighbours West have reached the Vase final, losing out 2-0 in 2012 to Dunston, then two years later succumbing 1-0 to Sholing but, for the Bishops manager, who has four Vase winners medals to his name from his time at Hillheads (2002, 2009, 2010 and 2011) this Saturday “should see a pretty healthy crowd in an all to play for, blood and guts encounter against our local rivals West Auckland; I wish I could play in it.”
The Two Blues form has been completely erratic, indifferent this campaign, winning seven and drawing four (all of which have finished 2-2) from the twenty-three games in all competitions with which Ian Chandler explains: “I think the majority of people, the fans, can see that, when we have our more experienced players on the pitch, together, we can be a match for most teams in our league.
“This was visible when we demolished Whickham (4-1 away on October 19), and, but for the sending off (of Callum Munro) on Saturday then we would have had a positive result against Newton Aycliffe.”
(The Two Blues saw off hosts Padiham in the First Round of this season’s competition)
In trying to find a good mix, blend of experience and youth, this season, Chandler’s side have been taught a couple of footballing lessons, losing heavily to Stockton Town and neighbours Shildon among them.
The Vase though is a completely different ball-game; players, management, fans, often ‘up for the cup’ come match-day and, although it has been an up-and-down season to date the Two Blues are definitely that.
“The thoughts of a juicy derby against West Auckland has the lads focussed and ready for a battle royal,” continued the Bishops manager.
“Form goes out the window and the desire, with a stroke of luck, often wins on days like these.
“We have no doubts this is a tough encounter but the end result is all that matters, we will be ready for this one.”
Bishop Auckland welcome neighbours West Auckland in the Buildbase FA Vase Second Round on Saturday 2 November, kick-off at 3pm; gates and bar will be open from 1:30pm, admission as follows – Adults £7, Concessions £6, U18s £3, U5s Free.
Car parking available, please arrive early to avoid lengthy queues prior to kick-off.