FOOTBALL fans in the North East are toasting a fabulous weekend of success as two of the region's teams won key games in hard-fought cup competitions.
Carlisle United lifted the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy after beating Brentford at a packed Wembley Stadium yesterday.
And on Saturday Whitley Bay FC ensured they will be heading back to the home of English football for the third year in a row – after beating Poole in the FA Vase semi-final.
The Seahorses will now enter the record books by becoming the first team to reach the final three successive times.
Almost 3,000 elated fans poured from the ground in North Tyneside after the second-leg match on Saturday with saw them win 3-1 and 5-2 on aggregate after winning the first leg 2-1 in Dorset.
The Northern League side will now face Leicestershire side Coalville Town on May 8 when they will attempt to lift the trophy for the third year running and the fourth time in their history.
Fan Brian Morton, 63, of West Monkseaton, said: “I’m absolutely over the moon. I think it’s great to be going back to Wembley.”
Another fan Brian Hardy, 66, who lives near Cramlington, said: “We’re very excited to be going back to Wembley again and hope that we can get the hat-trick. I think everyone was a bit apprehensive at the beginning of the game, and when Poole scored. But once they kept the ball on the ground you could see they had got their act together.”
Chairman Paul McIlduff said “I’m absolutely ecstatic, I can’t believe it.
“To have reached three Wembley cup finals is absolutely fantastic. If you’d have said to me three years ago that we’d do this I’d never have believed you.”
Having already made it to Wembley themselves League One Carlisle United yesterday won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy with a 1-0 victory.
The Cumbrians’ longest serving player, Peter Murphy, scored the only goal to mark a double celebration after becoming a father on Friday.
His two-day-old son, and proud new mum Lisa, were among a crowd of 40,000 to see the 30-year-old defender thump in the first-half winner.
It also allowed him to make up for giving away a needless penalty in last year’s final defeat against Southampton. Murphy said: “The ball just came to me nice. I tried my luck and it went in.
“It was nice to redeem a little bit of the demons from last year.”
Carlisle assistant manager Graham Kavanagh said it was an “absolutely fantastic afternoon”.