FA Cup: Paul Gascoigne's good luck message to Dunston UTS

Dunston UTS boss Chris Swailes pictured with chairman Malcolm James and player Dan Halliday, who is holding the FA Cup
Dunston UTS boss Chris Swailes (left), chairman Malcolm James (right) and player Dan Halliday with the FA Cup
FA Cup fourth qualifying round: Dunston UTS v Gateshead
Venue: Wellington Road Date: Saturday, 20 October Kick-off: 12:30 BST
Coverage: Live on the BBC Sport website, app, Red Button and iPlayer

He grew up close to where Dunston's 2,500-capacity ground is now situated and learned to play football in the surrounding streets before going on to star for Newcastle, Tottenham, Lazio and England.

On Saturday, Paul Gascoigne's hometown club can create history for themselves by reaching the FA Cup first round for the first time.

North East part-timers Dunston UTS are the lowest-ranked club left in the competition.

Playing in the ninth tier of English football, they have an average league gate of 250, an adult season ticket costs £80 and their main stand seats about 250.

Yet they will join the likes of Sunderland, Coventry City and Portsmouth in Monday's first-round draw if they shock neighbours Gateshead, who play four leagues above, in the fourth and final qualifying round.

Dunston-born Gascoigne, regarded as one of England's finest players, had a stand named after him at the Northern League Division One club before it was destroyed by fire. He returned in July 2017 to play - and score - in a charity game at Dunston UTS.

A picture of Paul Gascoigne while he still lived in Dunston
Paul Gascoigne was living in Dunston when he moved from Newcastle to Tottenham for £2.3m in 1988

"Dunston is very special to me. I have a lot of fond memories growing up there and it's where I first learned to kick a football," the former midfielder, capped 57 times by England between 1988 and 1998, told BBC Sport.

"I wish the club all the best on their big day in the FA Cup.

"They've done brilliant to get this far having started out in the extra preliminary round. I know from speaking to family and friends that there's a lot of excitement ahead of Gateshead's visit.

"It's great for the area to be hosting a derby in what's a special competition. Tell the boys to enjoy the game, win or lose."

From extra preliminary round to first round?

While National League Gateshead are starting their FA Cup campaign, this is Dunston's sixth match in the competition having entered at the earliest stage on 11 August.

Three of their five wins have come against teams from a higher league, including a 4-3 home triumph over sixth-tier Chester in the third qualifying round.

That match was watched by 873 - more than three times their average crowd. The visit of Gateshead, based three-and-a-half miles away, will attract Dunston's club record attendance, which currently stands at 1,550.

The main stand at Dunston UTS' Wellington Road ground
The 250-seater main stand at Dunston UTS, whose name incorporates that of sponsors Utility Technology Services

"When I became chairman 24 years ago we were playing in the Wearside League in front of around 60 people," said 71-year-old chairman Malcolm James.

"This is one of the biggest matches in our 43-year history. We could have raised admission prices but we've deliberately kept it at £6 and £3 because we want to attract new fans.

"It's not fair to rip off fans who come week in, week out, to watch the team."

The 48-year-old boss who was still playing last season

As well as Chester, Dunston's giant-killing run includes victories over seventh-tier North Ferriby United and eighth-tier Pontefract Collieries.

They have scored 17 goals in five ties, with Liam Brooks and Mark Fitzpatrick each netting six times.

In total, their exploits have earned £35,140 in FA prize money, which will go towards ground improvements.

Dunston UTS will secure a further £25,000 if they see off Gateshead, seventh in non-league's top flight, and stretch their unbeaten start to the season to 16 league and cup matches.

"Gateshead should win. They're a full-time side who train every day while we train once a week," said boss Chris Swailes, a former Gateshead defender whose playing career also includes Premier League appearances for George Burley's Ipswich Town in 1995.

Dunston UTS boss Chris Swailes
Chris Swailes has won the FA Vase three times as a player - with Bridlington Town (1993), Dunston UTS (2012) and Morpeth Town (2016)

"But nobody gave us a chance against Chester and then getting a draw against our neighbours, who are four leagues above...it's a great tie not just for Dunston but for Gateshead and for the area."

The 48-year-old is a fans' favourite having played in Dunston's 2012 FA Vase final win over West Auckland Town at Wembley. He was still playing last season and remains registered as a player.

But Swailes, who was brought up on Gateshead's Leam Lane estate, has no intention of playing again - even if Dunston reach the first round.

"I've had a lot of injuries in my career and it has taken its toll on my body," he said. "I will no longer play."

'A local lad who made good'

Dunston UTS, whose club motto is "never second", honoured Gascoigne by naming their main stand after the 51-year-old.

"Years ago we didn't have covered accommodation so we built a stand and we named it the Paul Gascoigne Stand because he was a local lad who made good," added James.

"We had to rebuild the stand after it was burned down. It's a different stand and we have sponsors names on it now."

Dunston UTS' Wellington Road ground
Dunston UTS' ground has a 2,500-capacity and is three-and-a-half miles away from the International Stadium, where Gateshead play

Swailes added: "I've met Paul a couple of times. We went to the same school - Heathfield Senior High in Gateshead - but Paul had left by the time I was there.

"Paul's a legend. He's the best player England have had for the past 30 years, in my opinion."

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