Twitter - @jamesAgrayson
After AFC Emley were knocked out of the FA Vase on Saturday, it means that the Northern Counties East League will have no representative in the final, ten years since the last one.
Brigg Town’s victorious 2003 appearance in the final is the last time. Does this mean that the quality of the NCEL is poor compared with their corresponding leagues? Probably not.
Whitley Bay and the Northern League have dominated the Vase in the last few years with Bay winning the cup three years on the bounce until last season when fellow north-easterners Dunston won it.
The NCEL did have a phase where its clubs were successful in the competition. From the late 80s to the mid-nineties, NCEL teams were reaching Wembley regularly. The original Emley made it, so did North Ferriby, while Guiseley twice appearing, winning it once. John Reid led a Colin Richardson owned Bridlington Town to Wembley glory in 1993.
I do have a simple answer to why NCEL sides struggle. When the early regionalised draws are made, NCEL clubs are usually paired with Northern League teams. Now because the money around in the NL, teams have players of Conference North quality and Paul Brayson and Craig James are two players that spring to mind. Because of the quality of players around, the NL is of Evo Stik Division One North standard. And that’s unfair on the NCEL.
Bridlington Town chairman Peter Smurthwaite wrote a letter to the Non-League Paper a few months ago outlining the same view. The FA need to act because teams in the NCEL and other leagues are not getting a fair crack of the whip. The NCEL is not full of cash rich teams and they cannot compete with the likes of Whitley Bay and Bedlington Terriers.
Have the FA considered moving the Northern League clubs into the FA Trophy?