In the other semi-final, Didcot Town were paired with the winners of Jarrow Roofing Boldon CA and Frome Town, whose quarter-final was postponed at the weekend and will take place this Saturday. The first legs of the semi-finals are on Saturday, March 19, with the second legs the following Saturday.
With the final of this year’s FA Vase in partnership with Carlsberg taking place at White Hart Lane on May 15, representatives from the surviving five teams and the FA were at the ground this afternoon to watch the draw.
It was hosted by the BBC’s Ray Stubbs, while the balls were drawn from the velvet bag by former Spur Justin Edinburgh and Mike Mainwaring, Sponsorship Manager for Carlsberg.
Reaction to the draw was certainly mixed. Manager of AFC Sudbury, Gary Harvey, and Bedlington Terriers’ chairman, John Feary, both admitted they had hoped to avoid each other.
But Paul Noble, assistant manager at Didcot Town, and manager of Frome Town, Andy Black, were delighted to have missed being paired with either of the two favourites.
AFC Sudbury, unbeaten in the Eastern Counties Premier Division this season, beat Stourbridge 4-1 after extra time in the quarter-finals on Saturday, but Harvey was hoping for better fortune in today’s draw.
“It’s certainly not the one we wanted,” he said. “We would have loved to have played Bedlington in the final — north versus south — but we just have to get on with it now. We’re also disappointed that the first leg is at home, but we are very good away side so maybe that just suits us.
“We shouldn’t be afraid of anyone but you have to give everyone the respect they deserve at this stage of the competition. Without a doubt, they will be two cracking games of football, we’re not a side that knows how to go and defend.
“Of course it would be great to be back here for the final, our supporters would love to come here and cheer us on, there are a lot of Spurs fans among them so it would be great if we could make it through.”
Bedlington’s John Feary echoed those sentiments. “We were thinking that Sudbury was the one to avoid, but it’s all about what happens over the two games now and we’ll be reasonably confident,” he says. “We played them before about seven or eight years ago, they’re a great club with a great crowd and we’re looking forward to seeing them again.
“We’re both big clubs and we’ve both gone close to winning the Vase before, so it would have been ideal to meet in the final, but it wasn’t to be. If we can get a good result in the first leg and get them back home, it will be a hell of an atmosphere at Bedlington, we’ve got a smashing crowd, it will be great occasion.”
Paul Noble, Didcot’s assistant boss, was more than satisfied with the draw. “We actually wanted Frome or Jarrow, so we’re delighted with it,” he reveals. “We keep hearing about Sudbury and how they’ve lost the last two finals and this could be their year, and we spoke to an FA representative before the draw who thinks Bedlington are very good side, so those two can fight it out between themselves and hopefully we’ll meet one of them here in the final! It’s an awesome venue and we’d love to be here on May 15.”
Frome’s manager Andy Black said: “If us or Jarrow get through, we’ve both got a good chance to get to the final having missed Sudbury and Bedlington. But it’s still a tough call against Didcot.
“I think we can give anyone a good game, although we’re a young side and nerves might be a problem. But we’ve still got to get past Jarrow, we’re not looking any further than that yet.
“We’ve had a look around White Hart Lane today and it’s fantastic. People say they want to play at places like Old Trafford, but you can’t get much better than this stadium, it’s first class,” added Black.
Meanwhile Justin Edinburgh, who won the FA Cup in 1991 and the League Cup in 1999 and is now player/manager at Billericay Town, believes that the Lane is the perfect venue to host the final of this year’s FA Vase.
“Until you get involved at this level, you don’t realise how prestigious this competition is,” said Edinburgh. “Although all these clubs enter the FA Cup, it’s the Vase that they have genuine hopes of winning.
“And there is no bigger incentive for the semi-finalists than to play at a stadium like White Hart Lane and at a club which has such a wonderful tradition when it comes to cup competitions. Whoever reaches the final, it should be a fantastic occasion.”
The draw for the semi-finals of this year’s FA Vase was made on Monday at White Hart Lane, with AFC Sudbury and Bedlington Terriers — the two strongest sides still in the competition — drawn together.