FA Vase countdown
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The wonderfully-named Jarrow Roofing Boldon Community Association FC will be hoping to put their disappointing league form to one side this weekend as they entertain Didcot Town in the semi-final of the FA Vase.
Trailing 1-0 from last Saturday’s first leg at Didcot’s Loop Meadow Stadium, Jarrow have a decent chance of reaching the Final — to be held at White Hart Lane on Saturday, May 14 — and if they do, it will be a remarkable achievement for the North-East side.
The birth of the club can be traced back to two plain-spoken men who huddled together over a jar of ale 17 years ago and spoke of founding a football club on a spare plot of land in Jarrow.
Brian Marshall was the chairman of the local Community Association. His close friend Richie McLoughlin, a Sunday league footballer just out of the Army, was fired by the dream of founding a football club that one day ‘might be able to play a bit ‘.
Marshall provided the land. McLoughlin the sweat and tears. Thus Jarrow Roofing Boldon (CA) was formed.
For 17 years McLoughlin, who runs a roofing business of the same name, has begged and borrowed, scrimped and saved, to passionately build the club he loves.
He calls it his hobby, and for close to two decades has run his roofing contractor business in the week and quite literally built a football club at weekends.
The result is a 4,000-seater stadium that waits expectantly for the visit of Didcot in Saturday’s second leg of the semi-final.
"I used to borrow building equipment over holidays to get things done," said McLoughlin.
"Diggers, steam rollers, drills — everything I could lay my hands on. And pretty much everything I earned went back into the build."
From the Sunday Business House League through the tougher South Tyne & Wearside Leagues, McLoughlin, who somehow has found time to manage and run the club too, has guided his charges. In 1996 they joined the second division of the Northern League and then more recently moved up to Division One.
It’s an extraordinary rite of passage which could culminate in a White Hart Lane Final in May, and they have saved their best form for the FA Vase, in particular their 3-0 demolition of much-fancied Frome Town in the quarter-finals.
"One game at a time," is his response.
"Didcot can play a bit, but to tell the truth, I’m more interested in my own team.
"The Frome manager shook his head after the game on Saturday and called me ‘The Fox’" he chuckled.
"They’d sent a scout to watch us two or three times in the build-up to the game — and each time I played a different system. They didn’t know what to expect when they came here. I played one or two cards and they weren’t able to counter them."
A 3-0 win though was beyond even McLaughlin’s wildest dreams. "It was the greatest day in the club’s history, and there haven’t been many better in my life," said McLaughlin.
"I can’t express what it meant to me. The boys played their hearts out.
"Our league form’s not been the best, and we are seen as outsiders," he agreed. "But the mistake we made early in the season now has the look of it of a significant investment.
"We took a decision to play a lot of youngsters in the team early on and our inexperience cost us a number of games. But they’ve learned from their mistakes and we have improved dramatically."
In the second semi-final, tournament favourites AFC Sudbury take a narrow 2-1 advantage to Bedlington Terriers in another north versus south clash.
Sudbury, losing finalists in the previous two FA Vase campaigns, are top and unbeaten in the Eastern Counties Premier Division but face a tough trip to Bedlington who, like Jarrow, play in the Albany Northern League.
ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â· The Final of the FA Vase, previously scheduled for Sunday, May 15, will now take place at White Hart Lane on Saturday, May 14, kick off at 2pm, as our home game against Blackburn Rovers was switched to the Sunday along with all other final day fixtures by the Premier League.
With thanks to www.nonleaguedaily.com