Growing up in Catford, Bromley FC was just about my nearest non-League football club, and I would often spend some idle Saturday afternoon’s or Tuesday evenings’s at Hayes Lane with mates.
In those days they knocked around the Isthmian Leagues but for the last few years have been playing at National League level and today were joined by 17,000 fans (photo) at Wembley to watch them play Brackley Town in the FA Trophy Final.
It was all going swimmingly for Bromley leading their National League North rivals 1-0 with injury time minutes ticking when on loan Addick Brandon Hanlan missed a great chance. I was following online and thought we’ve seen this before and sure enough that polite human Roger Johnson deflected into his own net, which was probably the fans fault, in the 94th minute to salvage an equalizer for Brackley and take the game into extra time.
There were no further goals in extra time but The Ravens had a penalty to win it but it was blazed over the bar, and then they missed another. Brackley scored theirs and won it 5-4 on pens in front of a very respectable 31,000 people.
All very Charlton-esque then, except that it really isn’t.
It is 11 years since the new Wembley opened and do you know over 40 non-league teams have played at the new national stadium since and, wait for it, only 14 of the current 92 league clubs have yet to play on the hallowed turf at all.
Tottenham playing their home games there this season eradicated any top flight teams from that ‘never played there list’ one of the highest ranking teams of the 14, Fulham, will take that number to 13 when they play Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final next weekend.
Fulham by the way out of all those League teams that have played at old and new Wembley (only two clubs haven’t – Accrington Stanley and Crawley) have waited the longest to return. Last time the Cottagers played at Wembley was the 1975 FA Cup Final against West Ham. I remember it well..
So, 13 teams still never to have played at the new Wembley. Can you name the other 12?
Accrington Stanley and Crawley of course plus Wolves, Nottingham Forest, Ipswich, Blackburn, Bury, Colchester, Port Vale, Oldham, Notts County and Barnet. And next season we take the Bees off that list so it becomes 12 of the 92 as both Ebbsfleet and Macclesfield have both contested FA Trophy finals since they moved to the new Wembley.