The Final of this season's FA Vase will be held at White Hart Lane and, this weekend, 32 non-league clubs will be battling it out in round four of the competition, hoping to take another step closer to a trip to our famous stadium.
Among them is local side Enfield, formerly one of the most famous names in non-league football but who have slipped down the pyramid to such an extent that this season is their first ever foray into the FA Vase. They currently play their football in Ryman Division Two, but are enjoying an impressive season and are a point clear at the top.
In charge of the side is Dave McDonald, who took over as player/manager during last summer and who spent five years on our books between 1988 and 1993. He played twice for the first team in May, 1993 — away to both Liverpool and Arsenal— and the 3-1 win against the Gunners that month was the last time we won at Highbury.
He then had spells at Peterborough United and Barnet before moving into non-league football, ending up down the road with Enfield. Now he has his eyes set on a double success this season — promotion and a return to the Lane in the FA Vase Final. On Sunday, his side takes on Brislington at home in the fourth round of the knockout competition.
“Realistically, I would be disappointed if we didn’t win the league,” explains McDonald, who was born in Dublin and came over to England when he was 16. “Enfield used to be a major club in non-league football and I don’t see why we can’t get back to those days. Obviously it’s a massive task, but we have to be positive.”
Enfield have so far been drawn at home in every round and have enjoyed wins over Halstead (2-1), Concord Rangers (5-0) and Enfield Town (1-0). Brislington are eighth in the Screwfix Direct Western League Premier Division.
“This is definitely a competition that we are capable of winning,” says McDonald. “We’ve got a good chance, there are some strong sides in there though, the likes of Winchester who are the holders and AFC Sudbury who have been to the final a couple of times recently. But maybe if we can avoid those teams until the later rounds and get a bit of luck here and there, why not?
“If we could get to the final and play at White Hart Lane, it would be unbelievable not just for me but for everyone connected with the club.”
We’ll be keeping a close eye on the closing stages of this season’s FA Vase, particular on Enfield’s progress and will follow the competition all the way through to the final at White Hart Lane on Sunday, May 15.