Spennymoor Town FC Club History

Spennymoor Town Football Club has a long and distinguished history that has been documented below .We hope you will find it interesting and informative.

Spennymoor Town FC was born in the summer of 2005 following the demise of both UniBond Premier Division club Spennymoor United AFC and Northern League Second Division club Evenwood Town FC.

The club was originally formed in 1904, chiefly at the instigation of local councillor and businessman Thomas Grant, who negotiated use of the Brewery Field, used previously by Tudhoe Rugby Club. Spennymoor United were six times Northern League Champions, four times winners of the old North Eastern League, on 16 occasions Durham Challenge Cup holders. They 18 times reached the FA Cup first round, twice the second and in 1937 at West Brom in front of a 23,000 crowd, the third. Spennymoor have since faced Wigan Athletic, Tranmere Rovers, Chesterfield & Rotherham United in the same competition. Spennymoor United also reached the semi-finals of the F.A.Trophy in 1978 (the first North East and the only Northern League side to do so), Won the Northern League Cup five times, JR Cleator Cup, Northern Counties East Premier Division and the UniBond League Cup.

A portfolio of players have played for the club and moved onto the Football League over the years, most in particular Johnny Dixon who captained Aston Villa in their 1957 F.A.Cup Final victory over Manchester United, meanwhile John Collins – the father of comedian Frank Skinner – also played for the club just before the Second World War. Following the Northern League’s decision not to be part of the pyramid, Spennymoor joined the Northern Counties East League and won the Championship at their second attempt in 1993 for promotion to the UniBond First Division, before promotion was secured on the last day of the season to the UniBond Premier Division with a victory over Ashton United in front of a near 1,000 Brewery Field crowd.

The same season, Spennymoor became the first club from the First division to win the UniBond League Challenge Cup, beating Hyde United 3-1 in the Final at Harrogate Town. Bad news followed at the end of the century when the club lost its main sponsor and faced two disastrous seasons without financial support which told on the field as the club was relegated into the UniBond first division.

The club did, however, bounce back under the leadership of Jamie Pollock to gain promotion back into the Premier division in 2003 and the season after the Moors were in the play offs for entry into the newly formed Nationwide Conference North, but lost to Bradford Park Avenue 3-1.

The Moors social club was burned to the ground in an arson attack on Christmas Day 2003 and from then on the club had no income and, despite the appointment of a new chairman, things got worse. In 2005 the club could not fulfil their fixtures and Spennymoor United AFC were removed from the UniBond League and the club sadly went out of existence after 101 years of senior soccer.

Out of the gloom, people were working hard to get the club back on track and the supporters formed an independent group with the intention of putting a club together as a supporters trust. Evenwood Town, who were also having great difficulties, had ambitions to move to the Brewery Field and both groups submitted their plans to the local council. Following an historic meeting at the Penny Gill in Spennymoor the supporters agreed to stand down and let the Evenwood proposal proceed. The Northern League and FA approved the plan; that Evenwood Town would take the name of Spennymoor Town FC Ltd and  play at the Brewery Field in United’s colours of Black & White stripes in the ANL division 2.  Since then the FA have twice declined permission to rename the club Spennymoor United.

The first season saw the club finish 8th in the Northern League 2nd Division; meanwhile following the return of Jamie Pollock as Manager in 2006, Spennymoor blew apart the 2nd division clinching the title with record points and winning their last 17 games and being unbeaten for 6 months of the season. Pollock’s summer departure saw Spennymoor United legend Jason Ainsley promoted to team manager this coincided with the signing of a long term lease guaranteeing the club a home for the foreseeable future.

The season brought a 12th place in the league and the heart break of a last minute defeat at Gateshead in the semi-final of the Durham Challenge Cup. Season 2008-2009 was, as has come to be expected, another turbulent season following the departure of the club chairman. Spennymoor survived to defy the odds and finish the season having just lost out on the league title finishing with the third best points haul together with Whitley Bay and having had a fantastic run in the FA Vase which included a trip to Devon in the last 16 where Bideford ended the Moors Wembley dream.

The 2009-10 season saw the arrival of former Aston Villa player Bradley Groves as Club Chairman. Manager Jason Ainsley brought a number of new players to the club which saw the Moors top the table from October and win the Northern League Championship by a clear 13 points and become only the third club in the league’s history to hit the 100 point mark.

The success continued into the 2010 – 11 season with the Moors retaining the league title this time with a record breaking 103 points.  The club exited the FA Cup in the very early stages this season but did progress to the later stages of the FA Vase which included long journeys to Cadbury Heath and Poole Town.

The 2011 – 12 season proved to be a thriller with a third successive championship and more domestic silverware to add to the collection.  The season started well with a rare victory in a penalty shootout over Newcastle Benfield in the Cleator Cup and a game against Newcastle United reserves in front of a bumper crowd.  The club also had a decent run in the FA Cup progressing to the 3rd Qualifying round where we went out to Witton Albion but the run included one of the best performances of the season when we won against Ashton in the previous round 3-0.

The FA Vase was probable the biggest disappointment this year when we lost a rare Vase home tie against fellow Northern League side Ashington in the third round.  The Durham Challenge Cup on the other hand was another highlight when we defeated Gateshead Reserves 3-0 in the final at the Eppleton Centre in Hetton to take the trophy for the first time in 15 years.

The league title was only secured on the last game of the season at home to Vase finalists Dunston UTS. The Moors had not topped the table once during the season and to clinch it by winning the last 8 games in a row made it even sweeter.

The 2012-13 season proved to be the most successful in the clubs short history, as well as being runners up in the league to a runaway Darlington side; the Moors enjoyed success at Wembley Stadium in the FA Vase, won the League Cup, retained the Cleator Cup and were also runners up in the Durham Challenge Cup.

With the league being extended to 24 teams this year with the inclusion of Durham and Darlington, fitting in all of the games was always going to be difficult.  Along with the cup runs and the loss of winter games due to the bad weather, the season was eventually extended into the middle of May as the club played over 80 games if we include pre season friendlies.

One other record was broken during the season and that was the attendance at a league game.  The home tie against Darlington was witnessed by 2670 supporters and is the one and only time we have segregated a league game.

The FA Cup threw up an away tie with Trafford FC in the 2nd Qualifying round which saw the Moors 3-0 down after a disastrous first 20 minutes.  It was only then that the team found the right gear and started a fight back to make it a thrilling game however the home side held strong eventually running out 5-3 winners.

It was in the FA Vase however that the club were to make history.  Other than the 1st round away to Bridlington and a trip to Guernsey in the semi final, in all of the other rounds we actually got home ties playing Newcastle Benfield, Billingham Synthonia, Lordswood, Bemerton Heath Harlequins and Gornal Athletic respectively.  The first leg of the semi final was a daunting task both on the pitch and off it, logistically.  Having explored every avenue we eventually chartered our own flight to carry 39 players and staff and 39 supporters.  Following a very dodgy landing on the Island we found the home team drying out the pitch the following day with a helicopter.  Our 39 supporters were drowned out in the 4300 crowd but it was a superb performance on the pitch that saw the Moors run out 3-1 winners.  The game was also beamed back to the clubhouse and numerous pubs in Spennymoor where many more fans savoured the victory.

The second leg was a tense affair with the game being scheduled for 5:30 to allow the game to be shown back in Guernsey.  Shildon had already suffered a defeat to Tunbridge Wells in the other semi final so we knew it wasn’t to be an all North East Final.  It was Stephenson who finally broke the deadlock with the only goal of the game in front of a 1700 strong crowd who went into raptures at the goal and the final whistle.  We were finally going to Wembley for the very first time.

The Town Council really got behind the club for the Wembley trip and donated the use of a vacant high street shop for the duration of the build up.  Selling Wembley merchandise and bus tickets it was a bustling enterprise and whenever we took delivery of the black & white shirts there were queues the length of the high street.  Eventually we filled 24 busses of supporters for the trip with many more travelling independently.  Some 5000 supporters out sang the 12000 from Tunbridge Wells.  They also looked magnificent decked out in the black & white.   The noise when Graydon smashed in the second goal to win the game was deafening.  With Daniel Moore breaking his ankle weeks before the game, he and Chris Mason the captain on the day lifted the trophy in the Royal Box together.

The bank holiday Monday after the Final saw the Moors back in League action on the morning but after a quick wash and brush up it was back on with the suits for an open top bus tour of the town followed by a civic reception.

Nobody could have predicted the turn out by the townsfolk that day.  Everywhere there were banners, flags and scarves and the whole of the town virtually came to a standstill when the bus reached the town hall.  Totally unprecedented scenes greeted the players and officials that day and it was nothing short of magnificent to see the town get behind the team in such a way.

The league form was starting to suffer at this point and while it was still mathematically possible to catch Darlington in reality it was a bridge too far.  The club took the opportunity to play a few of the U17 Academy players to give some of the first team a break and they slotted in to the team very well which bodes well for the future.

 

The 2013 – 14 started where we left off with the club retaining the Cleator Cup against Whitley Bay, with the league champions Darlington declining the invitation to compete.

Following the very late end of the previous season, preparations for the new season had to be rushed through which affected form to some extent and the team suffered an early defeat away to West Auckland.  With the emergence of Celtic Nation, Marske’s early form along with Shildon putting up a strong team it was clear from the start that the push for promotion was not going to be easy.

The FA Cup threw up a home tie against Lancaster from the Evo-Stik Division one and Moors suffered a rare home defeat going down to a single goal to a well organised Lancaster.

The defence of the FA Vase started with a falter with a nil all draw away to Winsford, though the return tie saw a seven nil victory at the Brewery Field.  Bridlington and Causeway were the next two teams to fall to the Moors but in the 5th round we suffered another home defeat to Newcastle Benfield to end this year’s run.

The defeat however spurred the team on to a 23 game unbeaten run to finally overhaul the points total set by Celtic Nation when the club clinched the league title for the fourth time in five years topping the 100 points mark again.

One of the key moments of the season was the away game at Celtic Nation where a 1000 plus crowd witnessed the Moors come back from 3 – 1 down with 10 minutes to go to finish up 3 – 3 with Kallum Griffiths smashing a 25 yard shot into the bottom corner with barely a minute left on the clock.

The support for the club increased again rising to an average of 425 for the home games making the Moors the highest supported club in the league and the second highest support in the whole of Step 5.

Spennymoor Town also made their third consecutive appearance in the Durham Challenge Cup final and like last year lost the tie to a late goal this time to Shildon who won the trophy for the first time since 1972.

The club are now looking forward to starting life in the Evo-Stik Division One in the 2014 – 15 season with the first phase of the clubs ambition to achieve 3 promotions in 5 years complete.

At the start of the 2014 - 15 season, the first in the Evo-Stik league, the club chairman Brad Groves set out the targets for the year.  These were to have a good run in the FA Cup and FA Trophy and to reach the playoffs.

In the FA Cup following wins over Tadcaster, Bishop Auckland and Dunston, Moors were drawn at home against Telford of the Conference.  Moors were two goals up going into extra time when the Referee somehow found eight minutes of added time to everyone’s disbelief, which allowed Telford time to draw level in front of an 863 strong crowd.  Telford were too strong in the midweek replay though we did feature in the first round draw.

In the FA Trophy the Moors made it through to the first round and were the lowest placed club in the competition at that stage.  A lack lustre performance saw the club lose away to Hyde in December.

The first game in the league saw us drawn away to Padiham in Lancashire where a positive start gained the first points of the campaign.  The second game however was the first real test when we played Darlington 1883 at home the following Tuesday.  The crowd of 1882 saw Darlington take the points and left Moors in no doubt what the league was all about.

The season saw some excellent victories both home and away and the club were well in contention towards the end of the season, but then a run of bad results saw the title hopes slip away leaving the club in the fifth and final playoff place.

The playoff game against Darlington has been hailed by many of the 1987 crowd as the game of the season in a fiercely competitive game which swung backwards and forwards.

Spennymoor were 2 – 1 up with 5 minutes to go and if Kallum Griffiths shot from 40 yards had hit the net rather than the bar then Darlington would have been struggling to recover.  As it turned out, two Darlington substitutes made the difference with two very late goals to seal the victory.

All in all it was a very successful season for Spennymoor with all of the targets met.  The Reserve side also had a successful first season in the Wearside League finishing fifth.

Moors started the 2015/16 season with a tough away game against league newcomers Glossop and would go on to face them in two FA Trophy games just a few weeks later.  The Trophy run saw the Moors face Evesham and then Stourbridge two very long treks which eventually saw the club losing out to the Evo-Stik Premier side.

The FA Cup also saw highs and lows with victory over high flying Blyth before being dumped out of the cup by Burscough at home in the second qualifying round.

The early part of the league season saw mixed fortunes with some solid victories but a number or draws meant the club were always hovering on the edge of the playoffs with Warrington and Northwich Victoria heading the division by a number of points.

Following a heavy defeat on Boxing day at home to Farsley a change of the management team followed by a few new signings saw the Moors go on a fantastic 21 game unbeaten league run which lasted until the middle of April when we came up against Northwich.  The run and a 9-point deduction for Northwich for fielding an ineligible player was enough to secure second place in the league and ensured home advantage for both the semi and subsequent final of the playoffs.

The semi final was played in almost white out conditions with a late April snow storm hitting the Brewery Field.  However the Moors came through with a 3-1 victory over Burscough and to face Northwich Victoria on 30th April following their victory over Glossop NE.

Having lost to Northwich only 2 weeks previously the game shaped up to be a nervy affair but with Gavin Cogdon scoring in what turned out to be his last game in a Moors shirt the promotion to the premier division was sealed.

 

We have to remember in all of this that Evenwood Town also had a long history before the move so I have reproduced the detail here with thanks to the Northern Goalfields author so as not to ignore their past.

Evenwood joined the Northern League at the fourth time of asking in 1931, by which time the village club in the shadow of more illustrious neighbours had accumulated one of the lengthiest itineraries in football.

From formation in 1890, the itchy footed clubs pre-Northern League days saw numerous changes:  Barnard Castle and District League 1893-94, ‘ordinary’ matches 1894-95.  Auckland and District 1895-96, Wear Valley 1896-99, friendlies 1989-1903, Auckland and District again 1903-04, Wear Valley again 1904-06, Gaunless Valley 1906-07, friendlies 1907-08, Auckland and District a third time 1908-23, friendlies 1923-24, Wear Valley yet again 1924-25, friendlies 1925-27, South Durham 1927-28 and a fourth Auckland and District spell, 1928-31.

Even before their Northern League debut, Evenwood had attracted attention as an Auckland and District side by beating Bishop Auckland 2-1 on an amazing run to the Amateur Cup third round, which ended in a 3-0 defeat by Ilford.

Evenwood began life without the “Town”, playing as Evenwood Crusaders from 1911-14 before adding the Town in 1924.  Before the move to the Welfare Ground in 1924, the team changed at the Bay Horse Hotel and played on the Gala Field, adjacent to Randolph Colliery.  The Welfare ground is owned by Strathmore Estates, the Queen Mothers ancestral family. Club officials in less humble moments were given to talking of their links to royalty.

In the 1930’s, with Randolph Colliery working short time, many local men found work on the rebuilding and extending of Catterick Camp.  Soldiers came to play for the club, a link maintained until 1960.

Goals from George Emmerson (pen), Tommy Scott and Bill Singleton gave Town their first Northern League honours, a 3-2 League Cup final win over Trimdon Grange at Bishop Auckland in 1936.  Thirteen years later their first championship arrived, pipping Bishops by a point with a squad including captain Stan Peacock, George Wilson, Stan Blakeburn, Bobby Webb, Johnny Wharton,Ken Humble, Wilson and Joe Carr, Alan Hogg, Cliff Lancaster, Joe Richardson, Jackie Kilcran, George Watson, Manny Cook and Bobby Hansom.

The wooden dressing rooms and pavilion were burned down in September 1953, replaced a year later by a building costing £4500.  Three years later, a run to the FA Cup first round brought a home draw with Darlington, but the tie was switched to Feethams, where a share of the £866 gate money softened the blow of a 7-2 defeat.

Evenwoods finest hours came from 1969-71 however, with two successive league titles and a 1970 Durham Challenge Cup final win over Stockton, thanks to a Ray Young goal.  Mainstays of that great side included Bob Tookey, Tony Monkhouse, Eddie Ross, Brian Newton, Colin Hallimond, John Noddings, John Weir, John Hussey and Stuart Leeming.

Long serving officials have included Gordon Coe, Arthur Harrison, George Heaviside and Dave Reynolds.

In July 1991, Evenwood faced a major crisis.  They had no manager, only two players, big debts, a badly vandalised ground and only secretary Jim Coates and treasurer Dave Hanson remained behind the scenes as in 2000 they still did.  In a bid to keep the 101 year club alive, a public meeting was held and produced a small committee, including long serving former Northern League secretary Gordon Nicholson and their herculean efforts ensured that the season kicked off on cue.

Nicholson took the chair for a spell, stepping down to beaver behind the scenes.  Any Evenwood visitor would have spotted him – the one who would have sold you a raffle ticket, would be out in the rain taking down the nets – but it wasn’t a one man band.  Another unlikely hero appeared in team manager Dr Graeme Foster, a PhD from Quebec – the one in west Durham.  His only football management experience had been in the Durham City and District League but, working unpaid for seven years, Foster steadily improved the playing side and occasionally mounted promotion bids,   though none succeeded.

With sponsorship from mining company RJ Budge, floodlights were obtained when North Shields AFC folded, and further ground improvements valued at £30,000 were carried out.  Three years after facing extinction, the club had cleared all debts, improved facilities to first division standards, and the team were to spend six successive seasons in the top half of the of the second division table.

In 1997, the home FA Cup tie with Durham was televised by BSkyB, but despite appeals, no money was received, even though the club had come to the rescue when TV engineers had forgot some of their equipment.  In 1998, thieves stole almost new ground maintenance equipment worth £2,000 and funds weren’t available for replacements.  Grass cutting was done almost exclusively by treasurer Dave Hanson with 18 inch cutters, and pitch rolling with a tractor which was loaned by committee man John Simon.

Honours

Durham Challenge Cup winners 1969-70; Durham Amateur Cup winners 1928-29

Northern League champions 1948-49, 1969-70, 1970-71

Northern League Cup winners 1935-36