1987 was an important year for Warringtonian sport: The Wire reached the final of the John Player Special Trophy in Bolton, only to lose out to Wigan. However, there was another local derby in a national competition featuring the town.

Warrington Town FC travelled to Wembley for their FA Vase final on April 25 to face familiar opponents – North West Counties League rivals St Helens Town AFC.

While the Yellows came out as unlucky 3-2 losers, that doesn’t tell the whole story of the club in the 80s. Just a year before, the team narrowly lost to Vase holders Halesowen Town in the semi-final.

“For us to bounce back from that was a massive achievement”, says Pete Copeland, who played centre-half for the club during that time.

Copeland recalls feeling ‘daunted’ by the Wembley pitch on their stadium tour the day before the game, which was followed by a chance encounter with football royalty: “We travelled down the night before and we stopped at a hotel in Buckinghamshire.

“There was another team in the same hotel at the same time – which was Manchester United. They were playing QPR the next day and they stopped at the same hotel. On the morning of the final, we had a light training session with Alex Ferguson and Manchester United.”

Warrington Guardian:

That session may have settled the nerves of some of the squad, which Copeland says was a ‘mixture of experience’, all capably marshalled by manager Dave Taylor.

And Taylor is the one to thank for the club’s recent success and FA Cup run, says Copeland: “We did very well in getting promotion and winning league cup finals, so we were quite successful. Dave Taylor had a lot to do with it – at the end of the day, the buck stopped with him. He assembled that squad of players and it was a very successful one.

“If you look at Warrington the team, reaching the Vase and that era of the club, today they have improved again and gone on to the next level. I think Dave takes a lot of credit in starting that journey.

“We actually [broke] that ‘Warrington is a rugby league town and always will be’ mantra for the club to actually go on as it is today.”

Copeland, now 57, would leave the town the year after the Vase final. Moving to Somerset, he enjoyed a fruitful playing career until the age of 55. Along the way, he would play for Yeovil Town in the Conference, before spells at Barnstable, Bridgewater, and Chard Town.

However, there will also be a part of him left in Cheshire. His brother lives in Lymm, and Pete visits him ‘from time to time’ because he ‘misses them terribly’.

There is also a footballing connection that hasn’t gone away: “I have good memories of Warrington, the team, the players, and the structure of the club. When I did leave the area it was a massive decision and with a sad heart. What meant more was leaving the football behind.”

Happily, the two sides of Pete’s past life came together earlier this year. On a Skype call with family, Pete was asked to find his old Warrington Town FC shirt – which, to his brother’s surprise, still fit.