25 Years On: When Diss triumphed at Wembley
- Credit: Archant
It was a day that lives long in the memory of people in Diss — and 25 years since tiny Diss Town triumphed at Wembley is still extra special.
Both for those that took part, those that witnessed it or those that celebrated it back in South Norfolk, the date of May 7, 1994, when the Eastern Counties League side won the FA Vase trophy beneath the twin towers will never be forgotten.
Diss was left a ghost town as a 13,450 crowd in London watched the Tangerines come from behind to beat Taunton Town 2-1 after extra time.
"Twenty five years? I can't believe it. It's only seems like yesterday because it was such a memorable day," recalls team manager Bill Punton, the former Norwich City player, who still lives in Norfolk.
"All the streets in Diss were just empty. There were just ducks walking across the road because everyone had gone to the match!"
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Dale Edwards, who was serving behind the bar in The Sun pub that day rather than at Wembley, said: "I served one old lady a cup of coffee all day. Pretty sure I was the only bloke in Diss!"
Mr Punton, who was named non league manager of the year for the team's exploits, adds: "It's certainly one of the most memorable days I ever had in football. Leading the team out at Wembley was such an honour. And the guest that day was Jimmy Armfield who I used to play against when he was at Blackpool and I was playing for Norwich."
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The team had trailed for much of the game, but equalised deep into injury time thanks to a penalty from Paul Gibbs. Peter Mendham then stepped up to score the winner in extra time. Though not everyone saw it flying into the net.
Tangerines fan Martin Buckenham recalls: "I was reading the programme when Mendham scored!"
The following day the 'Tangie Army' turned Diss orange for an open top parade through the town with thousands lining the streets to see the players and the trophy.
Mr Punton said: "On the Sunday on the way back when we came from Bury St Edmunds all the way through to Diss every little village we went past there were people outside waving and all the church bells were ringing.
"It meant so much to people. There were 10,000 people lining the streets when we arrived back into Diss. We had four girls and four horses dressed up in the Diss colours that were at the front of the parade with the band and an open top double decker bus.
"The whole thing was fantastic and it is still amazing to look back on after 25 years."