Anyone who follows football locally in Berkshire will be well aware of what a great competition the FA Vase is. Thatcham Town were winners in 2018, Binfield reached the final in 2021 and most recently Ascot United took home the famous trophy last summer. We’ve also had clubs such as Bracknell Town make the latter stages of the competition and play in some real nerve jangling games.
Whilst Thatcham, Binfield and Ascot were excellent Step 5 sides before their promotion to Step 4, their current opportunities of reaching Wembley in the FA Trophy seem very unlikely. The FA Vase encompasses all Step 5 and 6 clubs but the FA Trophy takes in sides from four separate steps from the National League down to Step 4. It’s very tough for clubs at the level that Binfield or Thatcham play at to compete with former league clubs with professional setups like Chesterfield or even the likes of Maidenhead United.
“Wembley is the jewel in England football’s crown and should belong to everyone from the national team down to the grassroots”
With that in mind, is it worth adding a third national competition? An FA Shield for clubs at Step 3 and Step 4? This would surely benefit National League clubs who would see a smaller cup competition and fewer games as they “concentrate on the league” as well as clubs at Step 3 and 4 who would have the carrot of a Wembley Final to look forward to.
Wembley is the jewel in England football’s crown and should belong to everyone from the national team down to the grassroots. It’s important that the men’s and women’s national teams play there, show-piece cup finals, playoffs and of course grassroots cup competitions. England’s football pyramid is easily the best in the world, no other country comes close. Let’s nurture it by allowing more of its clubs a chance at playing at its greatest venue.
This article appeared first in the Football in Berkshire Friday newsletter. To get your regular dose of Berkshire football news and stories in your inbox, click here to subscribe.