Nineteen years on from Town's Wembley glory

Nineteen years ago this week, Whitby Town enjoyed arguably the greatest moment in its history, winning the FA Vase at Wembley.

Whitby Towns Wembley goalscorers, Andy Toman, David Logan and Graeme Williams hold the FA Vase aloft
Whitby Towns Wembley goalscorers, Andy Toman, David Logan and Graeme Williams hold the FA Vase aloft

Having already secured the Northern League title under the guidance of manager Harry Dunn, the Blues completed an unprecedented double courtesy of a 3-0 triumph over North Ferriby United on May 10, 1997.

“It’s the biggest day in our club’s history by a long, long way,” said Graham Manser, Town chairman then and now.

“It was a wonderful experience and the sort of thing that I doubt we’ll see repeated in my lifetime.”

More than 6,000 Town fans made the trip down to the old Wembley stadium and witnessed goals from Dave Logan, Graeme Williams and Andy Toman earn their side victory.

“Taking 6,000 supporters was amazing, and there would have been more of them if it wasn’t for the Endeavour returning to Whitby a week late,” Manser added.

“It was an incredible atmosphere at Wembley, something I’ll never forget, and the experience with the crowds when we came back into the Town on our open-top bus was also unbelievable.”

Occupying a berth in the centre of the Blues midfield that day was Mitch Cook, a player who enjoyed a long professional career that saw him turn out for Middlesbrough, Blackpool and Darlington.

Having arrived at the Turnbull Ground at the start of the 1996/97 season, Cook won the man of the match award at Wembley and describes winning the Vase as a “great swansong for my career.

“I can remember meeting the bus in Pickering with Dave Logan on the Friday night before the final and not returning home until 10pm on the Monday after,” he said.

“That weekend was unbelievable. The game, the trip back, the open-top bus, our trip out on the lifeboat, everything was brilliant. The club deserve a lot of credit for that.”

A good start was always going to be vital for Whitby at Wembley and the Seasiders sailed out of the blocks.

They had the first opportunity when Dave Goodchild’s through-ball picked out Graeme Robinson, but the attacker’s shot was swiftly blocked by a sea of green defenders.

Ferriby were a threat though, as Mark Tennyson headed just over and Dave Campbell had to be on his toes to deny Darren France.

The Blues moved into the ascendancy just before the half-hour, when Cook’s cross was lashed against the woodwork by skipper Neil Hodgson and Logan was on hand to follow up.

Whitby doubled their lead with the second half 15 minutes old. Cook was denied by the keeper, but Williams angled his drive into the back of the net.

Town wrapped things up when Andy Toman’s shot from a Paul Pitman cross flew in to start the Blues’ celebrations.

As well as his fond memories of winning the Vase, Cook says that he greatly enjoyed his time at the club and being part of a strong team that deserved all of the success that it achieved.

“If you look back at that side it was clear that we could have played a good few divisions higher,” he added.

“We were strong at the back, had creative midfielders, a highly prolific goalscorer and a work-horse next to him.

“Harry (Dunn) was a great bloke as well, he was just a manager that people wanted to play for.

“The club got what it deserved during that period.

“We won the league, the FA Vase and another cup that season, all because of the hard work put in by everyone at Whitby Town.”

Whitby Town team v North Ferriby United: Campbell, G Williams, Logan, Goodchild (Borthwick 78), Pearson, Cook, Goodrick, Hodgson, Robinson, Toman (Pyle 84), Pitman (Hall 86).