'I was massively concerned' - Consett striker Dale Pearson feared Wembley final clash with Hebburn Town would never happen
Consett striker Dale Pearson has admitted that he feared Monday’s FA Vase Final meeting with Ebac Northern League rivals Hebburn Town would never happen.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the Football Association’s decision to null and void the 2019/20 season led to a delay in both North East sides playing their semi-final ties.
The last-four ties finally took place five months after their usual April date as Consett saw off Western League club Bitton and Hebburn Town came throw a penalty shoot-out at Corinthian FC to set up only the second-ever all-Northern League final.
A number of dates were suggested for the Wembley meeting and the fixture was identified as a possible test event for the return of supporters to competitive football.
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However, once again the Covid-19 epidemic and tightened restrictions caused a delay in final confirmation of a date for the game.
The Football Association were adamant that the fixture would always take place and stayed true to their word – although Pearson revealed there have been moments of doubt throughout the last 12 months.
He told The Gazette: “I was massively concerned the final would not get played as it’s been almost a year now.
“At the end of the day, we have been hit by a pandemic and nobody could have expected that to happen.
“It’s essential that people’s health comes before anything else really – but for the FA to stick to their word and finally get the game played is fantastic for everyone involved.”
The absence of supporters will take some of the shine off what would have been a proud moment for the North East non-league game.
Pearson described their absence as “massively disappointing” – but urged his team-mates to do all they can to give their supporters something to celebrate on Monday afternoon.
“It’s obviously massively disappointing that we won’t have our loyal fans in the stadium supporting us,” explained the former Blyth Spartans and West Allotment Celtic striker.
“I suppose it could possibly have an effect on some players, but we have got a job to do.
“Hopefully, with all of the fans at home rooting for us, we can make that happen.”