Hucknall Town revive FA Vase glory days -- after Senior Cup stroll

Linby CW (red) v Hucknall Town (yellow/black)
Linby CW (red) v Hucknall Town (yellow/black)

Nostalgia takes centre stage for HUCKNALL TOWN this weekend when they make a return to the FA Vase.

After many seasons competing in the FA Trophy, Town’s struggles and fall down the leagues mean they must drop to the lesser knockout competition.

But the club has fond memories of making their name in non-league football with some memorable glory runs in the Vase during the 1980s and 1990s.

They reached the quarter-finals in 1986 when losing 3-1 in an infamous match at Warrington Town, which was blighted by hooliganism.

And they reached the last 16 on four other occasions -- 1984 (lost 2-1 at Whickham), 1985 (lost 4-2 at home to Exmouth Town), 1990 (lost 5-2 at Bridlington Town) and 1998 (lost 1-0 at Porthleven).

Now they aim to pick up the giantkilling thread when they welcome Desborough Town to Watnall Road for a First Round tie this Saturday.

Northamptonshire outfit Desborough play in the United Counties League, which is two levels above Town’s Central Midlands League (CML) on the non-league ladder.

They currently sit only 11th in the 19-team table after winning three and drawing four of their ten matches.

But they have already knocked out two higher-ranked Nottinghamshire teams than Town in preliminary rounds of the Vase -- Radford (1-0) and Teversal (3-0).

Says Hucknall boss Andy Graves: “I have watched Desborough and they are a strong, experienced and well-organised group of players.

“It will be a tough ask of our young squad, but if we play to our strengths, we should not fear playing them.”

The Yellows tuned up for Saturday’s tie with a comfortable passage into the Second Round of the Notts FA Senior County Cup (where they have been drawn at home to CML rivals Southwell City on Saturday 2nd November).

Another sacrifice Town have had to pay for their demise is the loss of their status as one of the elite 16 clubs exempt from the competition until Round Three.

But despite atrocious weather, they eased to a 2-0 victory at Welbeck, who are bottom of the CML’s North Division after nine defeats in ten matches.

Given that Welbeck’s goal-difference is minus-57, the faithful Yellows following who braved the wind and rain might have expected a bigger win.

But on a very small pitch, Welbeck were happy to drop ten men behind the ball as soon as they lost possession, meaning Town had to be careful and patient.

Maybe if Joe Lomax’s lovely shot on the turn had gone in, rather than hit a post, after only five minutes, the floodgates might have opened.

But Welbeck packed their box to stifle Town’s wave of attacks and the deadlock was not broken until the stroke of half-time. A delightful ball into the corner by Jeremy Moran was crossed first time by Eugene Francis and sidefooted home by Tristan Spencer.

The second half was again one of possession for Town and dogged defending by Welbeck. The clinching goal came from a well-worked corner by John Whetton and Sam Sims, with defender Josh Henry stabbing home the resulting cross.

One star midfielder, Mark Smith, missed the tie because of injury. But Leon Aikman was introduced from the substitutes’ bench late on after a three-week absence, and both are expected to be fit for the Desborough match.