Emley at Wembley

July 5, 1988

By 1986 Gerry Quinn had a talented set of players who were pushing for promotion from the Northern Counties East league towards the Northern Premier League.  But Emley were also aiming to progress in the FA Vase which held out the reward of a trip to Wembley Stadium in the final.

The Vase is always a tough competition to progress in for Yorkshire clubs as they tend to get drawn against teams from the North-East which has a very strong football tradition and is traditionally strong in the Vase competition, which evolved from the old Amateur Cup.  Emley didn’t have much luck with the draw in the 1986-87 season.  A trip to West Auckland Town resulted in a 3-0 victory, and it was followed by a visit to Seaton Terrace ( a 1-1 draw followed by a 2-1 win in the replay) and Wickham (a 2-0 win).

Now in the last 16 Emley faced Rossendale United at home, and after beating them 2-1, Dawlish Town, all the way from Devon.  They were beaten 3-2 and Emley reached the semi-final.  The first leg at St Helens Town went Emley’s way with a 1-0 win, but the second leg turned into a nightmare.  Part of the fencing collapsed behind one goal when a crowd of over 3000 became too much and eight minutes from time St Helens equalised.  Ray Dennis saved a penalty on 90 minutes but St Helens took the lead in extra-time.  Then to complete the agony Emley had a penalty saved with two minutes remaining.

In the 1987-88 season Quinn was determined to make amends.  Emley were helped this this by an exemption to the second round, but the draw wasn’t kind, the Club was drawn away in every round.  This time Emley largely avoided the North-East, beating Arnold-Kingswell 6-2, Guiseley 2-1, Bridgnorth Town 6-0 (in a replay) and Gresley Rovers 1-0 before facing Durham City in the quarter finals.  A 4-2 win there resulted in a long trip to Hampshire to face the equally small village side, Bashley.  A 1-1 draw meant all was to play for in the second leg.  On a memorable and typically windy Emley day, John Francis hammered the ball home to take Emley to Wembley.

That day will live in the memory of all the Emley fans of the time.  The old Empire Stadium only had 15000 people in it and it was decrepit and ready for replacement, but the atmosphere and sense of history will live with us forever.  The result didn’t go our way and Colne Dynamoes lifted the trophy.  Emley tried again the following two seasons but couldn’t emulate their success before being moved to the FA Trophy following promotion to the Northern Premier League.  Emley were ready to move onwards and upwards.

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