MEMORIES of Northwich Victoria’s past glories will enter sharp focus again when they travel to the North East this weekend, writes Mark Carruthers.

Steve Wilkes’ men face Northern League side Newcastle Benfield in the last 32 of the FA Vase and their opponents are likely to have a former Vics favourite leading their attack.

Paul Brayson established himself as a fans hero during a three-year stay in Cheshire and played a leading role in some of the greatest days in the club’s recent history.

“If I am honest I would have loved this to have been the final and to have met them at Wembley,” he said.

The Geordie striker scored 32 goals in 51 appearances when Vics romped to the Conference North title in 2006, securing a return to non-league football’s top-flight under the management of Steve Burr.

It was during that campaign that Brayson, now 41, made FA Cup history by becoming the first player to be named as the competition’s player of the round twice in the same season.

Vics battled their way past the likes of Barrow, Woking and Morecambe – where Brayson scored a memorable hat-trick in a stunning 3-1 win - to set up a third-round tie at struggling Premier League side Sunderland.

The lifelong Newcastle United supporter couldn’t grab the goal he would have loved at the Stadium of Light, as his side fell to a 3-0 defeat against the Black Cats.

However he did help the Vics secure a mid-table finish in the Conference National the following season before departing for York.

He returned at the start of the following campaign, scoring a stunning winner for the Minstermen with a spectacular volley in added time.

Brayson said: “It’s going to be strange because I had three great years with Northwich.

“The club was flying in the Conference and the FA Cup and we had a strong side with a very good manager.

“There are split loyalties, but I know what job I have to do and that is ensuring that it’s Newcastle Benfield in the draw for the fifth round on Monday.

“That’s my main focus and the way it has to be.”

Indeed Brayson is still scoring goals for his current club, and remains one of the most feared forwards in the Northern League.

He has 11 to his name in Division One so far this season, with a further four coming in cup competitions.

That includes one each of the Vase ties Tom Wade’s side have played so far, seeing off 1874 Northwich and Runcorn Town – both of them Vics’ rivals in the North West Counties League’s top-flight.

It seems almost inevitable another goal will follow his former club on Saturday afternoon, but Brayson admitted that he won’t rub it in if he does find the net.

“I am not one for big celebrations when I score,” explained the former Newcastle United reserve player.

“The Vics fans were great to me and I respect them because of that.

“For that reason I won’t celebrate if I score on Saturday.

Benfield have reached the fifth round of the Vase twice in their history, most recently in 2014.

You suspect that Vics will have to keep their former star quiet if they are to deny their opponents doing so for a third time.