Arngrove Northern League 2nd Division
22nd December 2007
Birtley is a small area to the south of Gateshead on the county border between Tyne & Wear and County Durham, to be more precise if ‘The Angel of the North’ took a slight glance to her right she would be looking into Birtley.
Birtley Town are newcomers to the Northern League after a successful phase in the Wearside League, after initially joining the league in 1992, the past four seasons has produced two titles and two runners-up spots, the second of those tiles last season gave the green light for promotion after making the necessary ground improvements, including new changing rooms and installing floodlights.
The Birtley name is a past associate of the Northern League, alas for only one season, after being founder members in that historic opening season of 1889-90, they resigned and continued playing in various leagues including the Wearside League and the Northern Alliance until reforming as Birtley Town in 1945.The present set up was formed in 1992 with the club merging with Birtley St. Josephs school in 2002 to develop the playing side from under-7’s through to under-18’s, including a girls team and reserve side, this achievement gave the club the FA Charter Standard Community Award.
The ground itself has the necessary standards required for the step up to Northern League 2nd Division, the ground is set way back from the entrance gate, which doesn’t have a welcome sign or any clue to let you know you’ve arrived at a football ground, a man with a Birtley scarf next to a table with a box of programmes is sufficient evidence that I’m at the right place. The main spectators point is at the far side, across two neighbouring football pitches with the main Eastern railway line facing into the ground, this includes a basic 100 seated stand and a standing shelter separated by the dugouts, with both stands decked in ‘The Hoops’ club colours of green and white. The other three sides are left open, but a patch of land has been marked out on the near side which will be the new clubhouse, thanks to my ‘man in the know’ El Queso Grande the club will be transferring a building from a local senior school, to be reconstructed at the ground.
Birtley’s opponents were my friends from Marske United (my fave club on Teesside) who came away with a well earned 3-0 victory, mainly thanks to some poor first half finishing and some very dodgy goalkeeping from the Birtley number 1. The opening period was sluggish and a bit of a non event, it was as if the players had already started on the Christmas pudding or feeling the affects of a pre-Xmas Friday night out, but Marske finished the half much stronger which they took into the second period. A goal from McPhillipson on the hour started the rout, pouncing on to a loose ball on the edge of the box and shooting home on the half volley, this was followed by two goalkeeping gaffes from corner kicks, firstly for Ben Thompson who’s flicked header went through the goalies hands and limped into the net, followed by a routine catch dropping kindly into the path of defender Michael Waller who gladly accepted his early chrimbo present from the keeper.
Even though it was a bad defeat for Birtley Town, largely due to postponements elsewhere; they stay top of the division, the clubs main priority this season isn’t promotion, but to establish themselves within the Northern League and build towards the future, which looks highly probable as this time Birtley are here for the long haul, unlike the towns original team almost 120 years ago.
LINKS - Marske Utd Match -http://www.marskeunitedfc.co.uk/ReportBirtleyDec07.htm
Ground no.154- Birtley Town Council Sports Complex (13 pictures)