What a game! What a result! What an achievement!
For Morpeth Town FC to get to Wembley to contest an FA Vase cup final got the whole town buzzing, but to then go on and win the trophy against all the odds was truly the stuff of dreams.
For those of us fortunate enough to be at the national stadium and the ‘home’ of football for the match against Hereford it was an afternoon we’ll remember for the rest our lives, one of those moments we will always be proud to say, “I was there”.
In our regular Herald column my fellow Town Team members from Morpeth Town Council, the Greater Morpeth Development Trust, Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade and Sanderson Arcade, are delighted to take the opportunity to congratulate club Chairman Ken Beattie, his magnificent players and back-room staff on a truly amazing achievement.
The fullest praise must also go to everyone who went to the match and was an absolute credit to the town, and to local people, shopkeepers and businesses who got behind the team to give it the support it needed to complete an historic victory.
As soon as we knew the semi-final result our Town Team members were talking about what we could do to help the club raise the level of recognition of just what it had achieved.
Our reward is to see so many people of all ages joining us to have a day out to remember in Morpeth.Jacky Beesley
In conjunction with the club, we organised stalls in the Market Place so the club could sell Wembley merchandise and memorabilia.
We commissioned a banner to fly across the Town Hall, designed and printed a ‘Howay the Lads’ poster with a picture courtesy of the Herald, and ordered black and amber bunting for businesses to hang in their windows and take part in a best dressed window competition — and didn’t they respond splendidly.
Well done to all who joined in the fun and filled the streets with Morpeth Town’s colours. There were some truly imaginative and creative displays. Our judges have inspected the windows and have made their decision, which will be kept secret until the winner is announced on Morpeth Fair Day on June 12.
Right from the moment the referee blew his whistle at the end of the semi-final at Craik Park, Morpeth Town Team offered to organise an open-top bus so the players could deservedly parade through the streets on Fair Day — with the cup of course — to the acclaim of thousands who will be there to cheer them on. Win or lose, we knew it was no less than the club deserved.
After the bus reaches the Market Place on its lap of honour, players and officials will go on to the Fair Day stage to be introduced to the crowds and lift the cup on high, before going into the Town Hall for a civic reception hosted by Morpeth’s new Mayor Andrew Tebbutt.
Like the match itself, it promises to be an occasion to be savoured. In the long history of Fair Day it should be a spectacle like no other seen before.
“Morpeth Town Team has got fully behind helping the club celebrate getting to Wembley,” said Town Team Chairman David Lodge.
“Part of our remit is to make the most of whatever opportunities come along to promote Morpeth as a great place to live, shop and visit, and they don’t come any greater than our local football club getting to Wembley.
“The club’s success has well and truly put Morpeth on the map over the past few weeks and will no doubt help give local trade a much needed boost.”
What of Fair Day 2016 itself? Once again chamber members have been working their socks off to assemble a full day of fun, laughter and entertainment, which will bring crowds flocking into Morpeth town centre.
Any proceeds go towards helping fund the promotion of Morpeth activities, such as the fantastic Christmas lights and the splendidly colourful floral displays, which for ten successive years have brought Morpeth unprecedented success in regional and national ‘In Bloom’ competitions.
Newly-elected Chairman of Morpeth Chamber of Trade Jacky Beesley says Fair Day is an opportunity for shops and businesses to give something back to the town from which they make their living.
“A huge amount of work goes on behind the scenes to organise the event, starting quite literally the day after one Fair Day ends and going on for 12 whole months,” said Ms Beesley.
“Our reward is to see so many people of all ages joining us to have a day out to remember in Morpeth.”
This year the Fair Day team has worked hard to add some fresh elements to the programme of music, songs and dancing, stalls, funfair rides and displays, and new for 2016 will be a food court stretching into Newgate Street.
Stalls will sell street food including Indian dishes, hog roasts, slow roasted beef and Yorkshire puddings, German Bratwurst sausages and noodles, vegetarian and vegan salads, sprouts and wraps, and gourmet burgers to name but a few.
Of course, the Newgate Street cafes will also be open.
Across at the Riverside Lodge the chamber will be running continuous music, introducing new local bands.
The popular parade will be back with its vintage vehicles and Harley Davidson motorcycles.
Activities kick off around 9am, with the opening ceremony at 10am, and continue until late afternoon.
And, of course, don’t forget the Morpeth Town team bus will bring up the rear of the parade — it will be an occasion not to be missed from noon onwards.