Colne Dynamoes 1-0 Emley – FA Vase Final at Wembley

April 23, 1988

In the Spring of 1988 Emley had battled their way through to the FA Vase semi-finals.  They played the first leg at Bashley in the New Forest in Hampshire.  A Steve Codd goal gave Emley a 1-1 draw to bring back to Emley the following Saturday.  There in a howling wind, very familiar to regular visitors to the Welfare Ground, a John Francis goal was enough to take Emley to Wembley where they would face Colne Dynamoes.

Emley’s visit to the ‘old’ Wembley, the crumbling but magnificent Empire Stadium did not get the national headlines of the West Ham game 10 years later, due to it being in the lesser of the three national FA competitions – the FA Vase.  However, it was covered widely locally and was the culmination of the team building undertaken by Gerry Quinn as Emley strove to climb the pyramid.  That team was a combination of great long-term talent such as Ray Dennis, Nicky Bramald, Dave Cook and Steve Fielding merged with ‘new’ talent such as Francis, Codd, Paul Gartland and Tim Devine.

Having failed at the final hurdle the previous season Emley were determined to go all the way this time and not only enjoy the trip to Wembley, but also win the Vase.   But Colne were formidable opponents, being backed and managed by local millionaire Graham White who had plans to take the club to the Football League.

The final was attended by over 15,000 people, two thirds of them supporting Emley as people from Huddersfield, Wakefield and Barnsley turned out to support the Club at the National Stadium.  The match had all the ceremony of a Wembley final with the teams being presented to guest of honour Geoff Hurst, but the game itself was a bit of an anti-climax as the evenly matched teams cancelled each other out.

In a game of few chances Emley thought they had the decisive goal.  In the 26th minute Bramald surged down the right to cross for Devine, but his back heel just missed.  Soon after Emley attacked again and got a corner, Keith Mason (former Huddersfield Town ‘keeper) dropped Gartland’s in-swinging delivery and the ball dropped inside the near post before being cleared.  Emley’s players were convinced it was in, but the referee and linesmen were not.  Geoff Hurst must have had a wry smile at that one!

The game continued to be cat-and-mouse with Emley looking to have the more potent attack with Francis’s pace always a threat.  But defences were on top.  Colne threatened more in the second half and Dennis had to pull off a fine save from Anderson.  Gartland had a corner which glanced the bar and with two minutes remaining Francis created a chance for Burrows, but his shot went over.

Two very tired teams contested extra-time and in the seventh minute Colne got the decisive goal through Stuart Anderson.  The Vase went to Lancashire and Emley were unable to get to Wembley again in the next couple of seasons before being promoted to the FA Trophy.  Quinn’s great team went on to secure the Northern Counties East League title that season but ground grading issues meant they were not promoted.  They had to win the league again the following season to gain promotion to the Northern Premier League.  An achievement the present day Emley will hope to emulate.

Team: Dennis, Hirst (Burrows 77 mins), Fielding, Mellor, Codd, Green, Bramald, Francis, Devine, Carmody, Gartland (Cook 107 mins).

Headlines and some photographs courtesy of Huddersfield Examiner and the Huddersfield and District Chronicle

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