IT'S been two weeks, although it feels a lot longer than that, since Barrow AFC’s last game and the occasion was marked by their FA Trophy-winning heroes from 1990 being paraded on the pitch before their clash with Notts County.

Twenty years on from their proudest hour, the Twin Towers had gone and it was the gleaming Wembley Arch that their successors were aiming to play under when they faced Salisbury City in the semi-finals in March 2010.

Runs in the cup competitions had been a welcome distraction from what up to that point had been a tough campaign in the Conference under joint managers Darren Sheridan and Dave Bayliss.

The Bluebirds had faced Premier League opposition in the third round of the FA Cup for the second season in a row, with 8,000 followers making the trip to Sunderland to witness their tie at the Stadium of Light.

AFC’s story in that competition ended with a 3-0 defeat in the North East but the Trophy had opened up another route to the National Stadium which they were now just 180 minutes away from.

To get to the last four, Barrow had got past Kettering Town, Maidenhead United, Gateshead and York City and, little did they know it, their semi-final tie against Salisbury would kick off a run of form that would rescue their campaign on two fronts.

They made the trip down to Wiltshire for the first leg off the back of a 4-0 hammering at runaway leaders Stevenage but that didn’t stop them from travelling back to Cumbria with a 1-0 lead thanks to Gregg Blundell’s 75th-minute winner.

The Bluebirds continued to build momentum by the time the Whites made the return journey to Holker Street as Nick Chadwick’s goal completed the turnaround in a 2-1 home win against Wrexham.

With confidence now up, striker Jason Walker was focused on finishing the job for his hometown club in front of a bumper crowd.

Walker, the only local in AFC’s squad, said: “As a kid, if you played on any kind of decent pitch, you named it Wembley. To get there would be unbelievable, it’s every player’s dream.”

Inside Holker Street, 3,070 people roared the teams on and they saw the aggregate lead doubled after 51 minutes when Walker went down in the area after having his shirt tugged by Stuart Anderson and calmly tucked away the resulting penalty.

It was an eighth successful spot kick in a row for Walker that season but home fans knew better than to think it would be a smooth road to Wembley from that point and nerves were indeed left shredded in the time that remained.

Just five minutes had passed before Salisbury were given a route back into the tie as Bluebirds ‘keeper Tim Deasy flapped at a long throw from Chris Bush and Darrell Clarke - who became the Whites’ player-manager later in the year - nodded in from close range.

The visitors should have levelled the tie when the usually reliable Matt Tubbs missed an absolute sitter on the hour mark before Aaron Martin skewed horribly wide from another Bush long throw as the hosts struggled to hold on.

Hearts were practically leaping out of mouths by the time a shot deflected off AFC captain Paul Jones and on to a post before relief, with a strong hint of jubilation, was released by Walker in the 90th minute.

Substitute Carlos Logan took the ball down the right before cutting the ball back from the byline for Walker to turn in to the net.

For the second time in their history, Barrow were going to Wembley and this triumph gave them the impetus to ultimately pull away from relegation trouble.

Old adversaries Stevenage would await them in the final... and Walker would have a small part to play in that as well.