October 13, 2017
Tony Blair was Prime Minister, Sir Bobby Robson was in the home dugout at St James Park and Busted topped the charts with “Crashed the Wedding”.
I promise I had to research that last fact.
Anyway, the year was 2003 and that was the last time a Northern League club reached the First Round of the FA Cup.
Many have come close, not one has succeeded in matching Shildon’s run almost fourteen years ago.
Now the Railwaymen are back within ninety minutes of replicating the achievements of their 2003 side.
They travel to National League side Guiseley in confidence, having only lost one game this season.
It won’t be easy, as Daniel Moore’s side ply their trade four levels below their opponents.
But they have made a mockery of predictions during this FA Cup run and there is no reason why they couldn’t do that again.
If they can cause a shock, they would be in with a chance of landing a huge tie against the likes of former Premier League clubs Portsmouth, Charlton Athletic and Blackburn Rovers.
There is also a monumental FA Cup clash at Mariners Park tomorrow as South Shields host a North-East derby against National League club Hartlepool United.
The Mariners have taken a liking to the FA Cup this season, beating higher-opposition like York City and Darlington.
A victory over Hartlepool would be the biggest shock of all and this is undoubtedly their toughest test year.
Craig Harrison’s Pools struggled to adapt to life in non-league after relegation from the Football League.
Slowly, but surely they have found their feet and have been in good form recently.
That said, the FA Cup has a way of producing the unexpected and what price the in-form Mariners finding themselves in Monday’s First Round draw.
There are a number of big games in the Northern League this weekend too as in-form Whitley Bay host West Auckland Town and Ashington start life without Steve Harmison with a trip to North Shields.
In Division Two I would highly-recommend a trip to Whickham as they host top-of-the-table Tow Law Town at the Glebe.