(Above, Bishop Auckland manager Ian Chandler with the FA Vase during his Whitley Bay heyday)
Having gained a top four finish in the Ebac Northern League last season, Bishop Auckland received a bye to the First Round Proper of the FA Vase (the furthest the club has ever been was the Second Round in 2015).
The draw for this season’s competition, now the qualifying rounds have concluded, see the Two Blues head to Lancashire and a game at the Ruby Civil Arena against Padiham on October 12.
Below is a brief history of north-east clubs in the Vase followed by Bishop Auckland manager, Ian Chandler, and his thoughts on the draw in a competition he has won on four occasions in the past seventeen years.
The north-east and the FA Vase have enjoyed a passionate love affair since the competition was launched back in the mid-seventies, Bishop Auckland’s fortune in the national knockout tournament not so passionate.
Best known for their successes in the old Amateur cup, the Two Blues were ten times victors of that competition, and finalists a further eight times with the last of any note being in the late-fifties, the Vase has been less kind, so much so that the furthest they’ve got is the Second Round a few seasons back, in 2014-15, when they lost to 1874 Northwich 4-1 at home.
In manager Ian Chandler though, they have someone at the helm with pretty decent pedigree in the competition – he scored the winner in the 2002 final at Villa Park as Whitley Bay defeated Tiptree United 1-0, then, as manager of the Seahorses, oversaw an incredible run in the competition.
Blue Star were the first north-east side to hit the Vase final, defeating Barton Rovers back in ’78, then Whickham won the competition in ’82 seeing off Willenhall Town 3-2.
Fifteen years would pass before another got to the final, Whitby Town famously winning the 1997 Vase with a 3-0 success over North Ferriby United before Tiverton Town inflicted back-to-back victories over Tow Law Town and Bedlington Terriers in ’98 and ’99 respectively.
The Bay brought the trophy back north in 2002 before that incredible run between 2007 and 2012, an Ian Chandler-led Seahorses played some 36 matches, winning the trophy three times, semi-finalists once, and only losing three times along the way.
Non-league fans don’t need reminding that Chan’s men defeated Glossop North End in 2009, Wroxham in 2010 and Coalville in 2011 – the defeats, well they were against Lowestoft Town in the 2008 semi-final (first leg), Poole Town in the 2011 semi-final (first leg) and West Auckland in the fifth round in 2012.
Dunston UTS would defeat West Auckland in the 2012 final (West lost again in 2014), Spennymoor won the competition in 2013 against Tunbridge Wells, North Shields saw off Glossop North End in 2015, then it was Morpeth Town’s turn in 2016 against Hereford United and South Shields in 2017 with a 4-0 demolition job of Cleethorpes Town.
Following the draw for the First Round of the 2019-20 FA Vase competition, the Two Blues find themselves travelling to Lancashire side, Padiham, manager Ian Chandler saying: “I have a little history with the FA Vase and, as I understand it, one more win and this will be Bishop’s best run in the competition, so there’s a nice target/incentive if we need one.
“I see Padiham have beaten Bedlington (5-0) and Sunderland West End (1-0) already, two teams in the Northern League Second Division, which is always a good bench mark.
“I also see they are not doing so well in their league, but neither are we, so there’s nothing to read in to that one just yet.”
Bishops form this season has been erratic to say the lease and, although enjoying some good spells in games, take the lead against West Auckland a prime example, or pegging back opponents, there’s been a number of occasions where the County Durham have come up short.
Victory against Sunderland RCA though gave glimmer of hope to Chandler and he knows that, even in the short-term, a run of good results will benefit the side ahead of a day in Lancashire, for the club and its supporters.
“Well, after an excellent (best of the season so far) display against RCA, we now need to take the tiny shred of confidence in to our next game away at Ryhope CW next Saturday,” continued the Bishops boss.
“A positive result there, and at Northallerton, and putting a small run together which is what I am looking for, even half expecting and we may end up in a nice place before we consider a run in the FA Vase.
“It’s also a nice away game for the fans, they’ve been on to me asking for an away game, well we have one now.
“I’m really looking forward to it and as always I expect a tough game but to hopefully progress as well.”
Bishop Auckland travel to North West Counties League side, Padiham (at the Ruby Civil Arena, nr. Burnley, Lancashire), in the FA Vase First Round on Saturday 12 October, kick-off at 3pm.