The Journey to Wembley starts at the pit face

This season the FA Cup started for many teams before a Premier League ball had been kicked.  Andy Hudson gives us his view on Jarrow Roofing’s long long road to Wembley, starting with an away trip to Glasshoughton Welfare FC.

The journey

photo (51)11am – Boldon Colliery. Huddled in a car park behind The Shack social club are a collection of players and committee members. A 33-seater bus rolls along the road. “I expected something a bit bigger than that like,” starts a voice behind me. A car roars behind and comes to a sudden stop in space. “Right, who hasn’t got their European Championships England international cap?” shouts player/assistant manager Dean Nicholson? “FINE!” Among the dissenting voices as players realise there’s no way they could have the latest item of the week, something each player must bring in order to avoid a fiver fine, is Dean brother Stuart: “That’s where it went to…that’s mine that!”

The highlight of the trip down is getting the Roofing’s Fantasy Football League sorted, players on their mobiles sorting their team before the 12.45pm deadline. “Lads, you’re all wasting your time man…I’ve got the league wrapped up already,” laughs Dean.

Although Roofing have been to the second qualifying round of the FA Cup, as well as an FA Vase semi-final, it’s the ex-Hebburn contingent of co-manager Paul Bennett and the players who crossed South Tyneside with him in June when he moved to Jarrow Roofing who have the real pedigree in this competition. Two seasons ago Benno’s team held Gateshead for an hour before losing 3-0 at the final qualifying stage – one of the best Cup runs in recent history from a Northern League team, especially considering Hebburn were a second division club at the time, as Roofing currently are.

After a stopover at Wetherby Services – “Bloody huge!” according to Steve Forster – the bus pulls up outside the ground, met by left-back Ian Davison and his dad Brian who have already made the trip down by car. Continue reading