Two years ago today North Ferriby United made history. They travelled to Wembley to face Wrexham in the FA Trophy final as massive underdogs and the rest as they say is history. We thought we couldn’t miss the opportunity to look back on a day that will never be forgotten by anyone associated with The Villagers.
In many ways it was remarkable that Ferriby made it to Wembley. The FA Trophy run that season had been the ultimate rollercoaster. Ferriby looked like crashing out of the competition in the first round proper to bitter rivals Boston. They were 1-0 down and it could have been 2 but for the heroics of Adam Nicklin who saved a Boston penalty. Ryan Kendall equalised in the dying moments and Ferriby went on to win the replay 2-0. Hyde and Farnborough were then dispatched with relative ease before a real battle of a quarter final with Ebbsfleet. The big spending visitors were arguably the favourites but Ferriby ground out the victory thanks to the ever reliable Liam King scoring his first of several FA Trophy penalties that season.
The Semi Final was even more nerve wracking. The first leg was a 2-2 draw at Bath and the two sides couldn’t be split in the second leg as they drew 1-1 so it went to the dreaded penalty shootout. Nicklin saved the first two bath penalties and when Jason St Juste converted Ferriby’s fourth their place in the FA Trophy Final was confirmed. Ferriby were off to Wembley!
Ferriby’s opponents in the final would be Wrexham of the Conference Premier. Understandably then Ferriby were massive underdogs but there was still a feeling of huge excitement around the club. Days like this don’t come very often for a team like Ferriby and everyone was eager to make the most of it. As the Green and White army travelled down to the Capital that day none of them could have expected just what an epic, nail-biting yet euphoric afternoon was in store for them.
The game started with rain pouring down from grey skies and that summed up the mood of the Ferriby fans early on in the game. Wrexham’s star striker Louis Moult scored in the 11th minute as he tucked the ball into the corner past Nicklin who in truth was only half fit for the final which would make his heroics later on even more special. Ferriby barely got their foot on the ball for the first hour and when Jay Harris doubled Wrexham’s lead in the 59th minute the magic of cup final day was starting to wear a bit thin on the Ferriby Faithful.
Soon after the second goal the clouds broke up and Wembley was bathed in bright sunshine. As if by coincidence Ferriby then found a lifeline in the game. Nathan Jarman played a ball over the top for Danny Clarke to chase. He got there before the Wrexham goalkeeper Andy Coughlin who brought him down, penalty given. Liam King stepped up in front of the 3 and a half thousand Ferriby fans. The nerves were tangible but he stepped up and smashed his penalty into the top corner to give Ferriby a chance.
With just 4 minutes to go it looked like Ferriby’s gallant effort may have been in vain. Step forward super sub Ryan Kendall. Introduced with just ten minutes to go Kendall was given the task of finding the equaliser and he did just that. Jason St Juste made a lung bursting run down the left touchline to keep the ball in, he then beat Manny Smith before cutting the ball back to Kendall who found the back of the net to send the Ferriby supporters into pandemonium. Ferriby were well and truly back in the game.
Unbelievably Ferriby took the lead in Extra time as Kendall rose highest to head a long ball into the box past the keeper and in. This was ridiculous no one could believe the turnaround but Louis Moult was on hand to save the day for Wrexham in the dying seconds with a thunderous strike to take the game to penalties.
The shootout in the final epitomised the entire cup run. It had ups, downs and plenty of nervy moments. Kendall saw his penalty come down off the bar and just sneak over the line before Tom Denton and Jason St Juste both missed the chance to win the Trophy as their spot kicks were saved. It went all the way to sudden death and Ferriby’s hero of the cup run Adam Nicklin had one last moment of magic in him. Steve Tomassen had to score for Wrexham but his penalty was a poor one and managed to save it low down to his left. Despite being on one leg for most of the game Nicklin led the celebrations as he sprinted to the other end of the ground to celebrate with the Ferriby supporters who were going mental!
It had been an absolute classic of a cup final and both sides were a credit to non-league but it was the underdogs Ferriby who slayed the Welsh dragons to claim FA Trophy glory. The sight of Liam King lifting the trophy will live long in the memory of everyone associated with North Ferriby United. Successes and failures are part of football and every fan experiences highs and lows following their team but it will be tough to ever top that day at Wembley for any Ferriby fan. They had been on the ultimate rollercoaster of emotions that day and came out smiling.