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Blyth Spartans

Blyth Spartans
200px
Full name Blyth Spartans Association Football Club
Nickname(s) The Spartans, Green Army
Founded 1899
Ground Croft Park
Blyth, Northumberland
England
Ground Capacity 4,435 (556 seated)
Chairman Tony Platten
Manager Tom Wade
League Northern Premier League
Premier Division
2012–13 Northern Premier League
Premier Division, 16th
Home colours
Away colours

Blyth Spartans Association Football Club is an English football based in Blyth, Northumberland. The club participates in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, the seventh tier of English football. They are currently managed by Tom Wade.

They were founded by Mr. Fred Stoker in September 1899, who was the club's first secretary before forming a practice as a distinguished physician in London's Harley Street. He thought it appropriate to name the team after the Greek Spartan army in the hope that the players would give their all as they went into "battle" on the field of play. The club is most notable for its 1977/78 FA Cup campaign, in which they went all the way to the 5th round only to be beaten by Wrexham in a replay at St. James Park.

History

In the beginning, the club played only friendly matches before joining the Northumberland League in 1901. The first recorded honour being a league success in 1901 followed by further victories in 1905–06 and 1906–07. The club then joined the Northern Alliance, remaining there for six seasons winning the league in 1908–09 and 1912–13.

In 1913 the club moved upward joining the ranks of the semi professionals in the North Eastern League and remained there until it folded in 1958. The fierce competition meant that honours were few and far between, the league was however won in 1936–37 season and the league cup won in 1950 and again in 1955. After the demise of the North Eastern League the club tried their luck in the Midland League and Northern Counties League, both ending when the leagues folded. The early 1960s saw the revival of the North Eastern League with the club doing quite well. However the league suffered many problems and eventually folded for good.

The club was now at a loss for a suitable semi-professional league and in 1964 decided to turn amateur and join the ranks of the Northern League. During the 29 years the club were members their record was second to none, winning the Championship on 10 occasions and being runners up 5 times. However, a new regime at the club were keen to progress up the league pyramid and a successful push ended with promotion to the Northern Premier League in the 1993–94 season.

Rise up the pyramid

The clubs first ever season in the Northern Premier League was memorable, winning the First Division Championship and the Unifilla First Division League Cup. Since gaining promotion the club held its own in the Premier division, finishing 6th and 7th in its first two seasons as well as lifting the President's Cup defeating former Conference side Runcorn in the final.

Following that the executive looked firstly to John Charlton followed by Paul Baker as team managers but these successive managers were without the required success demanded by the fans.

Harry Dunn's success and the Conference North

Harry Dunn was appointed in October 2004 for a second time. In 2005–06 Harry Dunn and his assistant Graham Fenton continued creating a further notch in the Spartans history by winning the Northern Premier League Premier Division as well as the Northern Premier League Chairman's Cup and the Peter Swailes Memorial Shield, and with it promotion to the Conference North.

In their first season in the Conference North Blyth cemented themselves in the top half of the table whilst even enjoying a brief stint in 1st place. The season ended with Blyth narrowly missing out on a playoff position on the final day finishing 7th.[1]

After an initial successful first season, Blyth found themselves at the opposite end of the table the season after. But some wins towards the end of the season including a 2–0 win against Champions Kettering Town saw Blyth preserve their Conference North status. The third season was a similar story with Blyth again struggling for much of the season but grabbing important wins towards the end of the season to avoid the drop. A relatively comfortable 15th place finish did not give much clue as to the frantic battle against relegation which had preceded it.

After two successful campaigns to preserve Conference North status the end of the 2008–09 season saw the end of Harry Dunn's second spell at Croft Park. No time was wasted in appointing his successor and on 9 May former Hartlepool United, Darlington & Sheffield United Reserves Manager Mick Tait took up the post for his second spell in charge at Croft Park.[2]


Relegation and Decline

It was announced in May 2011 that then Whitley Bay assistant manager Steve Cuggy would take over as manager. He along with his assistant Gavin Fell saw a complete overhaul of the squad that summer, letting popular players leave the club such as Robbie Dale. After initial excitement following a good pre-season, the performances on the pitch were extremely poor, however Blyth just got into the FA Cup 1st round after beating Droylsden 2-1 at home in the 4th qualifying round replay. Following defeat to Halifax town in December it was announced that Steve Cuggy had left the club. Later than month, former Newcastle United player Tommy Cassidy took charge but didn't have much of an impact on the squad and performances continued to become a concern. And on 24 March 2012, Blyth Spartans had their first ever relegation confirmed after a 1-0 home defeat to Gloucester City.

The following pre-season saw Blyth end up losing quality players and not be replaced. The season started with mixed results, but after very early exits from the FA Cup & the FA Trophy, Cassidy was sacked. In October caretaker manager Paddy Atkinson was given the job, however this did not make much of an improvement including an 8-1 away defeat to Worksop Town. On 8 March the news broke that Paddy Atkinson had resigned as manager.

Tom Wade era

On 12 March 2013 it was announced that Caretaker manager Tom Wade would be appointed on a deal until the end of the season. After some improved results, Wade was given a contract extension for the 2013/14 season in early April. That summer Wade brought promising youngsters Rob Nolan and Dean Holmes in from North Shields, as well as other promising youngsters. In early August Aaron Wearmouth signed from Bishop Auckland for a fee of £1500.

FA Cup exploits

Blyth Spartans have reached the first round proper of the FA Cup on 32 times; the second round 15 times; the third round 4 times, the fourth round once and the fifth round once.

Blyth reached the fifth round of the FA Cup in 1977–78. Having beaten Chesterfield and Stoke City (who had recently been relegated from the top flight) in the third and fourth rounds respectively, the club were drawn to play away at Wrexham where they drew 1–1. The replay took place at Newcastle United's St James' Park where, watched by a crowd of 42,167, Blyth eventually went out, losing 2–1.[1]

In 1980 Blyth played Hull City in the 2nd Round which saw two replays, the final of which was played at Leeds United's Elland Road.

Blyth's next memorable cup run came in their first season as a Northern Premier League Premier Division club in 1995–96 when they travelled to high flying Division Three side Bury and won 2–0. In the second round Blyth again were on their travels this time to Division Two side Stockport County where they lost 2–0.

In 1997–98 under the managership of John Burridge Blyth travelled to Second Division side Blackpool. A memorable game saw Blackpool run out 4–3 winners with a last minute winner.

It was 11 years before Blyth reached the 1st round again, but finally in 2008 Blyth hit the cup trail again. Qualifying Round wins against Whitby Town, Buxton and Sheffield FC saw Blyth reach the 1st Round for the first time since 1997. A home tie against League Two promotion chasers Shrewsbury Town saw Croft Park host league opposition for the first time since 1981. The result matched the occasion as Blyth ran out comfortable 3–1 winners.[3]

The Second Round saw Blyth travel to League Two strugglers AFC Bournemouth who included Darren Anderton amongst their players. A hard fought 0–0 draw on the South Coast saw Blyth take Bournemouth back to Croft Park where Ged Dalton put Blyth through to the Third Round with a last minute winner. Both games were shown live on Setanta Sports.[4][5]

In the Third Round, Blyth played Premiership opposition competitively for the first time in their history when they welcomed Blackburn Rovers to Croft Park. In a game again covered live by Setanta Sports Blyth fell to a 1–0 defeat with the only goal coming via a direct free kick from Chilean player of the year Carlos Villanueva in the 59th minute.[6][7][8]

Notable FA Cup games:

  • 1971–72 Round 1: Crewe Alexandra 0–1 Blyth Spartans
  • 1971–72 Round 2: Blyth Spartans 1–0 Stockport County
  • 1971–72 Round 3: Blyth Spartans 2–2 Reading
  • 1977–78 Round 2: Blyth Spartans 1–0 Chesterfield
  • 1977–78 Round 4: Stoke City 2–3 Blyth Spartans
  • 1977–78 Round 5: Wrexham 1–1 Blyth Spartans
  • 1977–78 Round 5 (replay): Blyth Spartans 1–2 Wrexham
  • 1995–96 Round 1: Bury 0–2 Blyth Spartans
  • 1997–98 Round 1: Blackpool 4–3 Blyth Spartans
  • 2008–09 Round 1: Blyth Spartans 3–1 Shrewsbury Town
  • 2008–09 Round 2: AFC Bournemouth 0–0 Blyth Spartans
  • 2008–09 Round 2 (replay): Blyth Spartans 1–0 AFC Bournemouth
  • 2008–09 Round 3: Blyth Spartans 0–1 Blackburn Rovers

Stadium

Blyth play their home games at Croft Park, which was opened by Mrs Clarke of Bellister Castle, Haltwhistle on 1 September 1909. The first match was a friendly against Newcastle United which ended in a 4–2 defeat.[1]

In 2003 Croft Park underwent an extensive redevelopment which saw much of the ash terracing levelled and replaced with concrete terracing. New dugouts and a wheelchair enclosure were also added. Further developments have been made to meet full Conference North criteria. These developments include extending the Port of Blyth main stand roof to cover the bottom tier which has had seats installed, building a roof over the Plessey Road terrace, providing cover for 1100, and building three new turnstiles at the Princess Louise Road end.

Following the 2008–09 FA Cup run, some of the money raised was spent on covering the Kingsway Terrace. For the first time Croft Park is now covered on all four sides. The pitch has also been moved by a metre to improve the view from the terraces. And the old goal posts have been taken down and replaced with new modern equipment.[9]

To celebrate Croft Park's centenary Blyth played a Newcastle United side, the team who provided its first opposition. Just like the first game the result finished 4–2 to Newcastle United.[10]

Current squad

As of 5 August 2013.[11]

Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
England GK Conor Grant
Canada GK Michał Misiewicz
England DF Phil Airey
England DF Nathan Buddle
Republic of Ireland DF Joe Kendrick
England DF Marc Lancaster
England DF Dan Parker
India DF Arjun Purewal
England DF Ian Watson
England DF Shaun Utterson
England MF Ryan Cummings
No. Position Player
England MF Robert Dale
England MF Neal Hooks
England MF Lewis Horner
England MF Craig Hubbard
England MF Damon Mullen
England MF Matthew Wade
England FW Sonny Andrews (on loan from Spennymoor Town)
England FW Ash Davis
England FW Daniel Maguire
England FW Arran Wearmouth

Notable former players

  • England Adam Bartlett – over 100 appearances for Blyth Spartans
  • England Graham Fenton – over 100 appearances for Blyth Spartans
  • Republic of Ireland Mick O'Brien – Ireland international
  • New Zealand Adrian Webster – New Zealand international
  • Senegal Ali Dia – Played 53 Minutes for Southampton in a Premier League game as a con footballer
  • Republic of Ireland Robert Birdsall – Ireland Under-21 International

Managers – past & present

2013/2014 Season - Tom Wade

2012/2013 Season - 1st - Tommy Cassidy 2nd - Paddy Atkinson 3rd - Tom Wade

2011/2012 Season - 1st - Steve Cuggy 2nd - Tommy Cassidy

2010/2011 Season - Mick Tait

2009/2010 Season - Mick Tait

2008/2009 Season - Harry Dunn

2007/2008 Season - Harry Dunn

2006/2007 Season - Harry Dunn

2006/2007 Season - Harry Dunn

2005/2006 Season - Harry Dunn

2004/2005 Season - 1st - Paul Baker 2nd - Harry Dunn

2003/2004 Season - Paul Baker

2002/2003 Season - 1st - John Charlton 2nd - Paul Baker

1999/2000 Season - 1st - John Gamble 2nd - Mick Tait

1998/1999 Season - 1st - Alan Shoulder 2nd - John Gamble

1997/1998 Season - John Burridge

1996/1997 Season - 1st - Peter Harrison 2nd - John Burridge

1995/1996 Season - 1st - Harry Dunn 2nd - Tony Lowery/David McCreery Joint Managers in temporary charge 3rd - Peter Harrison

1994/1995 Season - Harry Dunn

1993/1994 Season - Peter Feenan

1992/1993 Season - Ronnie Walton

1991/1992 Season - Ronnie Walton

1990/1991 Season - Ronnie Walton

1989/1990 Season - Tommy Dixon

1988/1989 Season - 1st - Dave Clarke 2nd - Tommy Dixon

1987/1988 Season - Jim Pearson

1986/1987 Season - Jim Pearson

1985/1986 Season - 1st - Peter Feenan 2nd - Jim Pearson

1984/1985 Season - Peter Feenan

1983/1984 Season - 1st - John Connolly 2nd - Mick Dagless

1982/1983 Season - 1st - Bob Elwell 2nd - John Connolly

1981/1982 Season - Bob Elwell

1980/1981 Season - Jackie Marks

1979/1980 Season - Jackie Marks

1978/1979 Season - 1st - Brian Slane 2nd - Jackie Marks

1977/1978 Season - Brian Slane

1976/1977 Season - 1st - Alan O'Neill 2nd - Brian Slane

1975/1976 Season - Alan O'Neill

1974/1975 Season - Alan O'Neill

1973/1974 Season - Billy Bell

1972/1973 Season - Billy Bell

1971/1972 Season - Allan Jones

1970/1971 Season - Allan Jones

1969/1970 Season - Jackie Marks

1968/1969 Season - Jackie Marks

1967/1968 Season - 1st - Tony Knox 2nd - Jackie Marks

1966/1967 Season - Jim Turney

1965/1966 Season - Jim Turney

1964/1965 Season - Jim Turney

1963/1964 Season - Jim Turney

1962/1963 Season - Jim Turney

1961/1962 Season - Jim Turney

1960/1961 Season - Jim Turney

1959/1960 Season - Jim Turney

1958/1959 Season - Jim Turney

1957/1958 Season - 1st - Duggie Wright 2nd - Jim Turney

1956/1957 Season - Duggie Wright - Secretary/Manager

1955/1956 Season - Duggie Wright - Player Manager

1954/1955 Season - Duggie Wright - Player Manager

1953/1954 Season - Charlie Ferguson

1952/1953 Season - Charlie Ferguson

1951/1952 Season - Charlie Ferguson

1950/1951 Season - Charlie Ferguson

Following information incomplete:

Joe Wilson – Player Manager in 1947

Ernie Hoffman – Secretary/Manager in 1937

Honours

  • East Northumberland League Champions 1903–04, 1905–06, 1906–07
  • Northern Alliance League Champions 1908–09, 1912–13
  • North Eastern League Champions 1935–36
  • North Eastern League Cup Winners 1950–55
  • Northern League Champions 1972–73, 1974–75, 1975–76, 1979–80, 1980–81, 1981–82, 1982–83, 1983–84, 1986–87, 1987–88
  • Northern League Cup Winners 1972–73, 1977–78, 1978–79, 1984–85, 1991–92
  • Northumberland Senior Cup Winners 1914, 1915, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1952, 1955, 1959, 1963, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1981, 1982, 1985, 1992, 1994
  • Cairns Cup Winners 1905–06, 1906–07
  • Tynemouth Infirmary Cup Winners 1908–09, 1909–10, 1932–33
  • Tyne Charity Shield Winners 1913–14
  • Tyne Charity Shield Joint Holders 1925–26
  • Northumberland Aged Miners Homes Cup Winners 1909–10, 1911–12, 1919–20, 1936–37, 1938–39
  • Northumberland Aged Miners Homes Cup Joint Holders 1920–21
  • Debenhams Cup Winners 1978
  • J.R. Cleator Memorial Cup Winners 1982, 1983, 1984, 1988, 1992
  • Beamish Trophy Winners 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997
  • Northern Premier League Premier Division Champions 2005–06
  • Northern Premier League Division One Champions 1994–95
  • Northern Premier League First Division Cup Winners 1994–95
  • Northern Premier League President's Cup Winners 1996–97
  • Northern Premier League Chairmans Cup Winners 2005–06
  • Peter Swales Memorial Shield Winners 2005–06
  • South Tyneside Football Benevolent Fund Gazette Cup Winners 1995–96[12]

References

External links

  • Official Club website
  • Supporters' website
  • Blyth Spartans at the Football Club History Database
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