Ex-player Paul Gibbs relives the 1994 FA Vase win at Wembley

Diss Town FA Vase 1994 supporters
Diss Town FA Vase 1994 supporters

Paul Gibbs played a key role in that final and in the club’s cup run.

It was an early round victory over a physical Ford United side that planted the seed in Gibbs’ and the team’s mind that they could go all the way.

Victories over a Torpoint Athletic, King’s Lynn, Tiverton Town and Atherton Laburnum Rovers also came and suddenly Diss were going to Wembley. Gibbs remembers Diss as a town getting behind the team. “It energised us seeing how the town reacted and all the shops decked out - everyone was so supportive.

“As a group of lads, we were all so excited but Punty (manager Bill Punton) would make sure we kept our feet on the ground.

“Punty was very strict and tough, but he was a manager who you wanted to play for.”

Gibbs remembers a particularly tough night before the final when Punton told the team who was playing and who wasn’t.

“There were some lads you really felt for, who really deserved to be there. To see some lads crying was really tough.

“He (Punton) pulled me, Paul Warne and Kelly Barth to one side and said: “You three are going to win this cup for me”.”

He remembers a pretty tight match all the way through and then his big moment came - a penalty in stoppage time to take the game to extra time.

“I remember looking up and thinking: My God, we’re on 90 minutes - this must be the last kick of the game.”

Shooting towards the end where the Diss fans sat, he remembers looking up past the corner of the goal and seeing his sister. Taking it as a sign, he lashed the ball past the keeper towards where she sat, sending his team and fans delirious.

“I ran over to the corner flag and whipped off my shirt and to see all those fans dressed in orange going crazy was absolutely fantastic and it is something I can instantly go back to.”

Gibbs also delivered the corner which led to Peter Mendham’s winner.

Diss still had about 10 minutes to hold on, and Gibbs remembers some heroic blocks and tackles by the defence before the referee blew for full time. They then made the famous walk up the Wembley steps to lift the FA Vase - a “phenomenal” experience, according to Gibbs.

“It just seems crazy that it was 20 years ago - it seems like yesterday,” he said.

Gibbs went on to have a professional career at Colchester United in 1995 and he also played for Torquay, Plymouth, Brentford and Barnsley.

“In my playing years, the Diss final stil stands out as the best day of my football career. It wasn’t expected, it was just this fantastic thing that happened.”