Ex-Boro and Sunderland man Arca to make Wembley bow – at 36
Former Middlesbrough and Sunderland midfielder Julio Arca will fulfil a lifelong ambition when South Shields face Cleethorpes in the FA Vase final at Wembley on Sunday, 21 May.
Arca, 36, played 317 league games but never made it to the national stadium during his professional career.
However, he scored to help South Shields to a 6-1 aggregate Vase semi-final victory over Coleshill Town.
“It’s a personal dream,” the Argentine playmaker told BBC Newcastle.
“We did it and everyone deserves it at the club – the manager, the players and the people behind us who worked really hard to have a quality ground.”
Shields almost did not make it past the fourth round, but for a floodlight failure which forced the abandonment of the tie against holders Morpeth at a time when they were 4-2 down with nine minutes remaining.
They convincingly won the rescheduled fixture 4-0 and followed up 5-2 and 6-1 victories against Team Solent and Newport Pagnell with another high-scoring success against Coleshill on home turf.
Arca’s spectacular strike added to goals from Gavin Cogdon, Carl Finnigan and David Foley to ensure comfortable progress to the final.
Keeping up traditions
Shields’ cross-Tyne rivals North Shields won the FA Vase at Wembley in 2015, beating Glossop North End 2-1 in extra-time.
South Shields can emulate that feat, and continue the Northern League’s remarkable record in the Vase, with member clubs winning seven of the past eight finals.
“I think that was the dream day, everything went our way,” Arca added.
“We’re in the final, but it’s only half of the job done. We achieved something fantastic for the club.”