The Buildbase FA Vase is by far my favourite competition on the football calendar. This is because every team that enters it stands a chance of going all the way to the Final at Wembley Stadium on Non-League Finals Day.


Photo by Tony Incenzo

Yes, you need a bit of luck with the cup draws and so on but that Wembley dream is very much on the horizon for all participants. So every team taking part approaches each tie as their biggest game of the season and plays their full strength side – unlike the Premier League clubs who rest a host of players in the FA Cup, for example.

Therefore with eager anticipation, I had a look at the Buildbase FA Vase fixtures and picked out my tie to watch at Swallownest FC of the Northern Counties East League Division One. This entailed a 270 mile round trip for me to Swallownest which is a village near Rotherham and Sheffield with a population of 15,000.

Where was it played?

The ground is part of the Swallownest Miners Sports and Social Club and I liked the humour involved in calling this the ‘Swall Siro Stadium’. It is a long way from the world famous San Siro Stadium in Milan but Swallownest certainly have a homely venue that suits their needs.

The main seated stand sits alongside the pitch. There is another stand behind the goal at the clubhouse end with a covered standing area alongside. Everyone I met on the day was very friendly and took great pride in being part of their local football club.

swallownest stand

Photo by Tony Incenzo

What’s in the programme?

It sold at £2 and consisted of 20 pages. The front cover summed up the occasion by emphatically declaring: “5 games from Wembley!” There was plenty of good reading material inside with a potted history of both clubs and the FA Vase competition plus two player interviews.

And the match itself?

An all-Northern Counties East League clash with Bottesford Town riding high in the Premier Division - one tier above Swallownest. However, the home side pulled off quite a cup upset to win 3-1 with strikes by Jack Henry (15 minutes), Jason Short (21 minutes) and Jack Appleyard (68 minutes).

The Bottesford scorer was Mason Ellender (50 minutes). I was amused to receive a tweet after the game from the aforementioned Jack Henry who coyly asked: “What did you reckon to first goal by number 2 today Tony?” In response, I replied: “A superb long distance strike by you Jack. Definitely the best goal of the game.”

swallownest action

Photo by Tony Incenzo

Facts and figures

Score: Swallownest 3 Bottesford Town 1

Where: ‘Swall Siro Stadium’, Rotherham Road, Swallownest, South Yorkshire S26 4UR

Competition: Buildbase FA Vase First Round Qualifying

Attendance: 134

You can follow Tony on Twitter at @TonyIncenzo

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