As Morpeth Town prepare to run out onto the pitch at Wembley for today’s final of the FA Vase, we take a look at the players who have all played a part in the team’s success in 2015/16.
Karl Dryden joined the club from Ashington at the start of the 2014/15 season. He is an excellent shot-stopper with great command of his area. Dryden has made 43 appearances for the Highwaymen this season, including eight appearances in the FA Vase. His standout moments include his man-of-the-match performances against South Shields and North Shields earlier in the competition.
Niall Harrison joined Morpeth mid-way through the 2014/15 season, having previously appeared for Blyth that same year. Another great shot-stopper who has made 16 appearances for the club this season, including the memorable 5-4 win over West Didsbury & Chorlton in the first round proper. Harrison’s distribution is unmatched at this level.
Stephen Forster is an electric full-back who has made the transition from winger to defender during the 2015/16 season and has been one of the club’s most consistent performers this term. The former Carlisle United, Birmingham City, West Allotment Celtic, Hebburn Town and Jarrow Roofing man has made 44 appearances for Town this season, netting once and assisting twice. In the Vase he has played in eight games.
Shaun Henderson is an attacking minded full-back who is confident on the ball and in the air. This term he has made 29 appearances for the Highwaymen, creating one goal. His one appearance in the FA Vase this season was in the first qualifying round victory over Padiham 4-1. He was a product of the Newcastle United Academy and has previously played for Ashington.
James Novak is a left-back who joined the club mid-way through the 2014/15 season. He is equally adept at defending as he is going forward and is a set piece specialist, creating ten and scoring five goals in 2015/16. James previously had spells at Ashington, Bedlington Terriers and Whitley Bay. This term he has notched 42 appearances and has appeared in every single FA Vase game to this point.
Damen Mullen is a versatile player who is equally adept at either full back position, as well as in the centre of the pitch. Damo was dual signed with Blyth Spartans last season and early in 2015/16 Damen was again dual-signed, with Morpeth having a backlog of fixtures to end the season.
Chris Swailes is a two-time FA Vase winner who has unrivalled experience in the world of football. His previous clubs include Peterborough United, Birmingham City, Doncaster Rovers, Ipswich Town, Bury, Oldham Athletic, Rotherham United, Gateshead and Blyth Spartans. He won the competition with Bridlington Town and later Dunston UTS. Swaz has been somewhat a Vase specialist this term, playing in seven games, netting twice and assisting in another.
Michael Hall is a ball playing centre-half who is powerful in the air and skilful on the floor. ‘Hally’ is a constant threat at set-pieces with his size and strength and is a vocal leader at the back. This season he has made 44 appearances in all competitions and in the FA Vase he has made eight appearances, contributing an assist. He is formerly of West Allotment Celtic and Seaton Delaval Amateurs.
David Hiftle is one of Morpeth Town’s longest serving players and he has made 34 appearances in the 2015/16 season, including four appearances in the FA Vase. Dicky is a previous captain of the Highwaymen and comfortable playing at his favoured centre-back position as well as full-back. He has plenty of Northern League experience.
Chris Reid has proved to be an influential member of the squad, both on and off the field. Having amassed over 200 appearances for four-time Vase winners Whitley Bay, he made the move to Craik Park in December. In 18 appearances, Reidy has netted three goals and assisted once more. Unfortunately, Reid is cup-tied in the FA Vase.
Chris Jewels is the club captain of Morpeth Town, having previously played for Hebburn Town, West Allotment Celtic and Washington. He missed the first half of the season due to injury but has come back into the squad late in the season. A commanding presence at the centre-half position, Jewelsy has featured in 10 games this season, but has yet to appear in the FA Vase.
Keith Graydon is the captain and also a previous FA Vase winner with Spennymoor Town in 2013. After starting his career at Sunderland, he has played for York City, Scarborough, Blyth Spartans and Gateshead amongst others. Technically gifted with an excellent range of passing, Keith has made 50 appearances this term, scoring six and assisting seven goals. In the Vase, Rasher has played eight games, scored one and assisted three times.
Ben Sayer joined the club in the winter of the 2014/15 season and has become a fan favourite at Morpeth Town. He is a hard-working midfielder with a superb range of passing, but is also not afraid to take on the opposition. Sayer has achieved 16 assists this term to go along with 10 goals in his 49 appearances. Ben began his career at Newcastle United before having spells at Team Northumbria, Blyth Spartans and Spennymoor Town.
Jordan Fry is the engine room of the Morpeth Town side, never stops running and is almost unbeatable in the air. Has shown his versatility this term by deputising at centre-half on occasion and is the definition of a team player. Jordy has appeared in 36 games this season, netting six times and assisting twice more, with one goal and one assist in the FA Vase.
Shaun Bell is another hard-working midfielder who doesn’t give the opposition a rest. A tough tackler, but confident on the ball, Belly has been at the club a number of years and against Berkhamsted in the fifth round of the Vase, he changed the game after coming off the bench to turn around a one goal deficit. Bell has made 23 appearances this term, netting once.
Mateusz Halambiec is another experienced midfielder who joined the club from professional Polish side Chrobry Glogów in December, having previously played for Morpeth eight years ago. On his second debut, he netted twice in the enthralling 3-3 draw against South Shields in the third round, before the Highwaymen won 10-9 on penalties. Unfortunately, he will miss the final through injury.
Paul Robinson is a vastly experienced central midfielder who signed for the club earlier this year, a dual signing from Blyth Spartans. Robinson can create opportunities from nothing – his previous clubs include Tranmere Rovers, York City, Newcastle Blue Star, Darlington and Whitley Bay. During his time at Bay, Robbo won three FA Vase finals, scoring in a 6-1 win over Wroxham during the 2010 final.
Luke Carr is an enigmatic forward who has been a revelation this season after joining the club late in the 2014/15 season from Durham City. Capable of playing on either wing, or through the middle, Luke has contributed 15 goals, assisting on 16 other goals. In the FA Vase, he has made seven appearances, scoring twice and creating another.
Sean Taylor is the Morpeth Town vice-captain. After leaving the Sunderland Academy, Tayls made a number of appearances for Blackpool in the Football League before joining Ashington, and later on Morpeth. A forward with pace, trickery and excellent finishing ability, Sean has topped the goalscoring charts this season with 25 goals in 54 games. He has also created 14 more goals. He has appeared in all nine Vase games to date, netting four times including in both legs of the semi-final.
Lee McAndrew is another former FA Vase winner, picking up the trophy during his time at Dunston UTS, where he made 175 appearances. Macca is a tricky winger who likes to run at opponents down the line, but is also able to play in the centre of the park. In 2015/16, McAndrew has made 46 appearances, scoring five times and creating five more goals, and he has netted once in the FA Vase.
Michael Chilton is a veteran centre forward who has an eye for goal. Regularly amongst the top five in the league goalscoring charts, Chilts would have been again if not for a mid-season injury. This term he has made 37 appearances in all competitions, finding the back of the net on 24 occasions. His FA Vase record is seven goals in nine games, including a brace against West Didsbury and Chorlton.
Steven Anderson is another player who has spent a number of seasons at the club. His previous clubs include Whitley Bay, Walker Central, West Denton and Newcastle East End. His tireless work ethic makes him a nightmare for opposing defenders. In 47 games this term, Anders has contribute five goals and created four others.
Dale Pearson is a young centre forward who joined the club in November from Dunston UTS. His previous clubs include West Allotment Celtic, Crook Town and Consett. He scored the crucial second goal in the quarter-final tie against Bristol Manor Farm and has made five appearances in the competition to date. In all competitions Dale has played in 28 games, netting six goals and creating one other.
Dan Taggart is another young centre forward capable of causing any defence problems. His strength and positioning are second to none, with the ability to bully defenders. Tags has made two appearances in the FA Vase so far this season, scoring against Padiham. In all competitions, Dan has made 22 appearances, scoring three and assisting twice.