Frome Town competed in the FA Vase in the nineties and noughties without making much impact save for one special season.
Perhaps, appropriately, it was the centenary campaign of 2004-05 and after home victories in the early regional rounds over Hellen (2-0) and Devizes (3-1), the last 64 draw threw up a rare visit to the capital.
Kingsbury Town’s Silver Jubilee Park ground was just a stone’s throw from the immense structure of new Wembley which back then was still two years away from completion and despite being in the metropolis, I could see more trees and greenery from behind the goal than from our own Club House End.
A decent contingent had travelled from Somerset which was just as well for there were very few locals in the sparse crowd of 68 who witnessed Jon Hayter fire The Robins into an early lead.
The Londoners levelled just after half time which galvanised Frome into long spells of pressure which bore fruit when Brad Peters wrong footed the keeper with a free kick from the edge of the box. Final score…...
KINGSBURY TOWN…1 FROME TOWN…2
The Fourth Round draw was fully national, and it sent The Robins north to deepest Lancashire against a club with a fabulous cup fighting history, Skelmersdale United, whose pitch at their brand-new Westgate Interactive Stadium was giving cause for concern.
Frequently waterlogged and with a wet January week forecast, the tie was switched at short notice to the ground of nearby Burscough FC which Frome took an instant liking to as Mark Salter latched on to a long ball and nodded them into a second minute lead.
A serious injury to home defender Steve Rimmer meant a lengthy delay of some twenty minutes and after the ambulance had gone and play resumed, Salter struck again, volleying home from a Dean Griffiths pull back.
That was the cue for an explosion of joy amongst the travelling faithful behind the goal, but Skem were far from finished as they launched wave after wave of second half attacks which Frome fended off superbly as keeper Paul Thompson, signed the previous month from Cirencester, performed heroics in the dying minutes to seal a famous victory. Final score…
SKELMERSDALE UTD…0 FROME TOWN…2
A home draw was craved in Round Five and that’s exactly what they got in the form of Ryman League Division Two outfit Brook House who were based in Hayes.
This was the big time with admission raised to a fiver to cover increased costs, including that of a fourth official, but it was touch and go on the morning of the match if it would actually take place.
Heavy rain had saturated the Badgers Hill surface but much forking and applying of sand persuaded the referee to go ahead and the majority of a bumper crowd of 732 roared their approval as an unmarked Matt Peters fired them into an early lead.
The more it rained, the better it got for Frome as Griffiths took advantage of a defensive slip to double the lead before a Peters header made it 3-0 by half time and as the heavy conditions took their toll, the remainder of the contest became a feisty battle of attrition. Final score……
FROME TOWN…3 BROOK HOUSE…0
Cup fever now consumed the town, but the Quarter Final draw was not kind, sending them on an epic 600-mile round trip to the northeast to a club with an equally long name, Jarrow Roofing Boldon Community Association FC.
Detailed travel plans were made, some supporters even booked flights, but the combination of a heavy snowfall and copious rain prompted a decision to postpone the big game on the Friday morning and the build-up would have to start all over again.
This delay effectively put Frome and Jarrow into the last five of a national competition and the draw for the semis, staged at White Hart Lane, venue of the final as Wembley was being rebuilt, paired the eventual winners with Didcot Town.
The March rains relented, and Andy Black’s squad set off seven days later for their weekend of destiny. Along with an overnight stay, they had a session at Sunderland’s state of the art training centre before a tour of The Stadium of Light.
A crowd of 540, boosted by about a hundred from Frome, many of whom appreciated the exceptionally low beer prices, welcomed the teams onto the Boldon Community Association Sports Ground pitch and it was the Northern Leaguers who were first out of the blocks, winning an early penalty which Paul Thompson saved.
The reprieve didn’t last long as Jarrow went ahead a minute later before they dealt a real hammer blow by doubling their lead just before half time. Frome had chances of their own, but this just wasn’t their day, and a third goal effectively sealed the tie on the hour mark and the club’s best ever Vase run was over. Final score….
JARROW ROOFING…3 FROME TOWN…0
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