Stephen Turnbull: Blyth Spartans v Hartlepool

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Words from Mark Carruthers.

As a non-league writer, the FA Cup has never lost any of its magic in my eyes. The competition still has the ability to provide shock and amazement year-on-year.

It may have lost some of its attraction for the “big” clubs, but to non-league clubs it can give them an opportunity to hit the national headlines and make household names out of their player.

One of my favourite FA Cup moments came in December 2014 when Blyth Spartans made the relatively short trip to Hartlepool United in a second round tie.

The game was selected for live coverage by the BBC and, despite Spartans fine league form, they were still went into the tie as underdogs against League Two Pools.

The hosts took a 1-0 lead into half-time thanks to a Jonathan Franks goal on the half-hour and, in all honesty, their lead should have been more comprehensive.

Spartans needed something special, and on 56 minutes, midfielder Stephen Turnbull provided it with a sublime 20-yard free-kick that Alan Shearer called one of the best he had witnessed.

It was equally special for Turnbull because he had started his professional career at Victoria Park.

The goal provided the catalyst for a giant-killing that was rounded off late in the game by a fine individual goal from Spartans winger Jarrett Rivers.

But it was Turnbull’s free-kick that gave them the spark that was required and it is a goal that will be remembered by Spartans supporters for years to come.

Mark Carruthers is a Non-League Writer for @ChronicleLive, @TheJournalNews & @SunderlandEcho. Follow him here: twitter.com/MarkCarruthers_

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