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Saturday, 30 May 2015

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Shaun relishes chance to play at Wembley

AFTER breaking his leg in 2011, midfielder Shaun Vipond thought long and hard about calling time on his injury ravaged career.

Shaun Vipond will be at Wembley for West Auckland on May 10.

The latest injury was just one of many setbacks which have hampered his footballing progress, cutting short his time as a professional with Carlisle United.

But he is determined to keep fighting, and his perseverance has been rewarded as he has a trip to the home of English football to look forward to.

For the 25-year-old, who started out as a junior at Hexham, has helped steer his new club, the famous winners of the first World Cup in 1909, West Auckland, to Wembley to contest this year’s FA Vase final.

Vipond, who has suffered bad injuries at Carlisle, Swedish club Ostersunds and most recently Blyth Spartans, was now counting down the days until the Wembley showdown with Hampshire side Sholing on Saturday, May 10.

He said: “I’ve had injuries wherever I have been and there’s been days when I have thought of packing it in.

“A leg break, and six months out, isn’t nice for anybody and you wonder if it’s worth it as you have to take time off work as well. It wasn’t a nice time at all.

“But I have worked hard with a lot of people, and days like Saturday in the semi-finals and the thought of going to Wembley makes it all worthwhile!”

He added: “If you could pick any stadium in the world to play at, then you would chose Wembley and it is going to be a dream come true to go there and, hopefully, play.”

To secure their place in the final, Auckland, who are challenging for the Northern League title, edged a nervy two-legged semi-final with Leicester’s St Andrew’s

After a goalless home leg, they needed to come from behind to earn the required victory which will see them battle it out with Sholing for the title of being the country’s best semi-professional side.

The drama and the tension of the final four fixtures has heightened the achievement of booking their place in the capital, and has whetted Vipond’s appetite ahead of the final.

He said: “I was absolutely over the moon to win the semi-final because it was nerve wracking, especially as we didn’t get the result we wanted in the home leg.

“But 0-0 wasn’t a terrible result even when we went 1-0 down in the return leg, although the nerves were kicking in even when we got the goals we needed!

“The club is staying in London for two nights so we’re all going to go down and enjoy the experience, and it is going to be a great weekend.

“We don’t know much about Sholing at the moment but the manager is going to scout them out to see what they have got.

“But he has put together a great team at West Auckland this year and it is no fluke we have got to the final, so we will go there full of confidence.

“It is just great to be going to play at Wembley but to win something there would just top it all off!”

Throughout the FA Vase journey – a total of eight games – Vipond has been well supported by family and friends.

An electrician for Garwen Enterprises, working for Egger, his colleagues have travelled long distances to spur him on, and already a large number have booked up to shout him on at Wembley.

He said: “My gaffer Gary Sanderson has been brilliant with letting me work my hours around football, and without his support I wouldn’t be able to continue playing as much as I do. And there sounds like there is a lot of people from Hexham going, loads of the lads at Egger are, and it is great to think of the support local people have given.

“My dad David will be travelling down too and he has been my biggest fan so it was great seeing his face when he was jumping around when we won in the semis.

“He has always wanted to go to Wembley as a Newcastle United fan, but he will be over the moon to watch his son play there!”