Arngrove Northern League Division Two
21st April 2007
Thornaby is a civil parish deep in the heart of ‘Smoggieland’ within the borough of Stockton-on-Tees,the football club were originally called Stockton when they were formed in 1980 playing in the Wearside League until moving up into Northern League Division Two in 1985/86,yo-yoing in between the two leagues with three promotions and two relegations until changing their name to Thornaby-on-Tees in 1999.
The new name didn’t change the clubs fortunes as relegation followed in that first season and so the club dropped the ‘on-Tees’ bit and won promotion again in 2000/01 the following two seasons the club continued in the same vain,down and back up again (are they the sunderland of non-league soccer?) but last season it wasn’t their performance on the field which led to their demise it was their facilities,the Northern League decided that the ground was considered unsuitable and were demoted into Division Two.
When entering Thornaby the ground is well signposted,which is just as well because it would be difficult to find otherwise,the ground is in between a row of houses and through a back lane,you come to the ‘Welcome to…’ sign and then your faced with three different routes,so obviously it took me three goes to pick the right direction to the ground,I should have gone for option A,the dirt track on the left hand side,which takes you down a hill where your greeting by a club official waiting to take your money.I can only describe this as a drive-in-football-ground,you pull up,wind you window down,pay your money and park up facing towards the pitch.
There is another main car park which is behind the canteen,but your free to park facing the pitch which is above a raised terrace which is now out of bounds for safety reasons,likewise the ugly grey concrete stand behind the right hand goal,this also has been cordoned off and looks like it was once a seated stand,behind the same block is the canteen and the toilets. The main stand incorporating the changing rooms is made up of five rows of benches,this also is in need of some work,particulary the removing of graffiti on the back wall,finally the standing area behind the left hand goal which has a congregated triangular roof for shelter and two rows of seats that are visibly never used anymore,the clue being the entrails of bird droppings on the padded seats.
Teesdale Park is a ground in need of major surgery,there’s been no new changes to the grounds facilities in the last 20 years and it shows,the club are currently waiting news over the ground development and when it will start,this may probably be the last game played here in it’s current state,with the club promising a ground with the facilities that’ll be the envy of every club in the Northern League.
The club are looking to ground share next season so it may be a while until they return home,it was noted in the match programme that the club could maybe play some early games at home and then several away,it all depends on the developers time schedule and if they can find a club to ground share with.
The match was a Teeside derby with Thornabys opponents being local rivals Marske United,there was a sparse crowd in attendance but there was a police presence amongst the spectators,two policeman arrived on bicycles prior to kick off,but I don’t think they were attending the game in the name of the law,it looked like they were skiving off,they had a pie and a cup of tea and after watching a boring first half decided enough is enough and left.
I’ll most likely revisit Teesdale Park in a few years time,it’ll be interesting to see the ground after the development and to see the major changes made to a site which has great potential to be a top non-league ground,but I’ll make sure I visit on a cold winters day so I get the benefit of the luxury of watching the game from the warmth of the car or in football ground terms,my executive box on wheels.(see bottom picture)
LINKS -match report from Maske Utd - http://www.marskeunitedfc.co.uk/ReportThorApr07.htm