Non-league journalist Mark Carruthers reflects on North Shields’ exit from this season’s Buildbase FA Vase in yesterday’s defeat on the South coast.
With midnight about to pass as I sit writing this piece on the North Shields team coach with almost two hours left in a mammoth journey, it’s hard to know how to sum up the FA Vase quarter-final defeat at Littlehampton Town.
The Robins, by their own admission, underperformed during the 90 minutes and their cause was hardly helped by a debatable red card shown to Anth Myers early in the second-half.
As if to compound their pain, Jack Walker’s unfortunate own-goal was all that separated the two sides when the full-time whistle was blown to signal the start of a pitch invasion that was played out in front of a colourful backdrop of a smoke bombs and flares.
Yet there is still scope for a positive to come out of what has been a negative moment for Marc Nash, Anthony Woodhouse and the North Shields players.
Perhaps it is the impact of tiredness and lethargy somehow making me search for a more optimistic assessment on what many will consider as a downcast day for the club.
But having been around the squad during the preparations, it became obvious there is an overwhelming strong team spirit and togetherness that has carried them throughout the season.
As an outsider, it certainly seems strong enough to move on from the all-too-evident disappointment of seeing their Wembley dreams ended on the south coast on Saturday.
If there is to be a positive, and it is one that is very much in their grasp, it is that there can still give a silver lining to their season, despite their defeat against the Golds.
As it stands, North Shields lie nine points behind Division One leaders Consett and hold five games in hand over the Steelmen.
The challenge, and it is one mentioned by Marc Nash, is to use the pain of defeat as a motivation to go and claim the Northern League title for the first time since 1969.
It won’t be easy, and plenty of other clubs will have a say, but that is the challenge for the Robins and once the pain subsides, it will be one they are more than capable of answering.