The FA Vase is an English knockout cup competition established in 1974 with the intent to provide an FA Cup and Trophy equivalent for semi-professional football clubs that play their league football at step 5 or 6 of the non-league pyramid (that’s step 9 and ten including the football league).
With the final held at Wembley and so to televised by BT Sport as of 2016, the opportunity for financial gain and increased exposure are endless for the winners.
The current winners are Newport Pagnell Town who have just booked their place in the final for the second year running. They are set to face Berkshire outfit Ascot United in this year’s final on Sunday 21st May.
Albie Hall scores!!!
Swans win 3-2 on penalties.
Wembley again anyone? pic.twitter.com/BsBcBujOCL
— Newport Pagnell Town FC (@nptfc) April 1, 2023
The FA Vase has been the provider of some historic and shocking moments throughout the years. Hinckley AFC hold the record for the biggest win in the competitions history, beating St Martins 18-0 in 2021. The record attendance in the competition was recorded at the 2007 final between Turo and AFC Totton which was seen by over 36,000 people at the then recently completed ‘new Wembley’.
Only two previous winners of the FA Vase have gone on to reach the highest level of the non-league pyramid (National League).
Forest Green Rovers won the competition in 1982 and now play in League One. Forest Green also became the first side to play in the final of both the FA Vase and the FA Trophy.
Tamworth FC won the Vase after winning their Final in a replay against Sudbury Town after their match at Wembley ended 1-1. Tamworth went on to gain promotion into the highest league of non-league football in the 2001/02 season. The club are also famous for their signing of former England international Paul Merson in 2006. After their early 2000’s heyday the club now finds itself playing their football in the Southern League Premier Division Central (step 3).
Only five teams have won the Vase more than once:
Whitey Bay have won the competition four times and are so to the only team to win the final three-times back-to-back. They did so in the years 2009, 2010, and 2011. They won their first Vase in 2001 at Villa Park and within ten years they would cement themselves as the competition’s most successful team, winning every time they reached the final. Whitley now playing their football in the Northern League Division One.
Billericay Town established their name in the competition’s history books after winning the Vase three time in the 1970’s (1976,1977, and 1979). The Essex based side reached the National League South in 2018 under Sunglass wearing, Gangster owner Glenn Tamplin who took reigns of the club just one year prior. However, after a few years under Tamplin’s ownership, a period where the club signed the likes of Jemaine Pennent, Paul Koncheskhy, and Jamie O’Hara, the club lost their ownership and slipped down to the Isthmian League Premier Division where they continue to play their football.
Tiverton Town reached their first final in 1993 however were not successful until their second and third finals, winning them back to back in 1998 and 1999. Tiverton hit national headlines in 2012 after they appointed ‘the youngest football team chairman’, 27 year old Matthew Conridge. The Devon club now play in the Southern League Premier Division South, and finished 13th in the 2021/22 season.
Halesowen Town based in the west midlands currently play their football in the Northern Premier League Division One Midlands. They are two-time holders of the FA Vase winning back-to-back finals in the years 1985 and 1986 beating Fleetwood and Southall respectively.
Brigg Town are the only team to have won the competition more than once that haven’t done so with back-to-back victories. They won their first Vase in 1999 beating Lincolnshire outfit Clitheroe FC 3-0 at ‘old Wembley’. They’d have to wait until 2003 to lift their second Vase, this time emerging 2-1 winners against AFC Sudbury at West Ham’s Upton Park.
Those who are less lucky
Sudbury Town/AFC Sudbury
Sudbury Town, know known as AFC Sudbury after merging with Sudbury Wanderers in 1999, have lost the most finals: 4. Losing as Sudbury Town in 1989 in a replay against Tamworth and then later three back-to-back final loses in 2003, 2004, and 2005 made them the competitions least successful club. Despite losing three finals they remain unbeaten at Wembley, all four final loses taking place at alternative venues.