Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wembley Still a Novel Thrill

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wembley Still a Novel Thrill

Article excerpt

Byline: Steve Brown

Whitley Bay 3 Barwell 2 HE is the only man to have won it as player and manager, but Ian Chandler will never tire of the FA Vase.

The Whitley Bay boss - whose side are holders - will lead his side out at Wembley once more, on May 9 against Norfolkbased Ridgeons Premier League side Wroxham, having overcome unbeaten Midland Alliance leaders Barwell on Saturday. Yet while he may have cut short the post-semi-final celebrations by, according to one unnamed, injury-prone but excellent defender, departing Tynemouth in someone else's taxi, Chandler could scarcely be happier.

"I'm lost for words, same as last year," he said. "I'll never get used to it but I'll never get sick of it. It's just unreal.

"We didn't think it was going to be our day but after the goal that was offside (from Jamie Towers on 88 minutes), me and Cuggs (assistant manager Steve Cuggy) said 'Is that our luck again?'" Some luck. That's three semis in a row, two finals. But the Bay only know to pull their fans through the wringer first. Three-one down with seconds left in Leicestershire, they trailed at Hillheads after 15 seconds courtesy of Kevin Charley.

Even at 2-1 up thanks to Adam Johnston's penalty and Richard Hodgson's strike, and against 10 men, Whitley permitted Barwell back in, Charley converting from the spot after he was nudged by Chris Reid.

Then, enter Paul Robinson. The mercurial midfielder may boast terrible taste in nightlife footwear (wear some socks, man!) but he specialises in special goals, and headed in Johnston's cross to send the Bay back to Wembley. "Full credit to Barwell, they were unbelievable with 10 men," said Chandler. "We had the walking wounded playing today, Darren Timmons was absolutely fantastic for an hour. We patched it up, we're there. Now we've got the little matter of 12 league games in four weeks! It's going to be difficult but we love it.

"It's just sinking in again. Last year was numb, this year it's more of a slow-burner and it'll probably dawn on me later on, once we get out and have a few drinks. …

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