The Football Association has announced the teams that will be promoted and moved into the Ebac Northern League for the 2019/20 season.

They confirmed that Team Northumbria and Blyth AFC are regarded as the two relegated teams from the first division as they resigned from the league after last year’s AGM.

As champions, Dunston UTS are automatically promoted to the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League.

The FA has promoted three teams from the second division:  Billingham Town, Thornaby and Northallerton Town.

Two teams are promoted from feeder leagues to the second division:  Newcastle University and Sunderland West End.  Carlisle City FC have been moved laterally from the North West Counties League to our second division.

The changes mean that both divisions of the league will run with 20 teams, subject to any appeals to the FA.

Esh Winning FC has announced that WindowsPlusRoofs will be ground sponsors for the 2019/20 season in a deal that will see the ground re-named The WindowsPlusRoofs Arena for the coming season.
The club said that sponsorship is such a huge part of our income and the support of companies such as WindowsPlusRoofs is critical to us.
Club secretary Matthew Burdess said: “Both Kitchens Plus Bathrooms and Windows Plus Roofs have shown us great support over the past season and we are delighted to have secured this sponsorship deal ahead of the 2019/20 season. The deal will also see Windows Plus Roofs becoming our home shirt sponsor and Kitchens Plus Bathrooms becoming our away shirt sponsor.”

A new group stage format for the Mitre Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup will be introduced next season.

The new format means that there will be eight groups of five teams each, with the top two from each group progressing to the last 16.

Each club will play two home matches and two away matches.

The group stage will replace the first two rounds of the current knock-out format

Each team will be seeded according to where they finished in the league table this season, so, for example, the teams that finished second to ninth would be the top seeds for each of the eight groups.

The last 16 round and subsequent rounds will be straight knock-out ties played over one leg.

League chairman Glenn Youngman said:

“We believe the new format will raise interest in the competition and help bolster the number of matches for more of our clubs.

“With the reorganisation of our league, the number of games for clubs has significantly reduced.  That has meant less revenue and fewer midweek fixtures, with some clubs finishing their fixtures by early April.

“Further work will be carried out in the coming weeks on the exact detail for the rules of the competition – for example how ties at the group stage would be decided for who progresses.

“We hope clubs and fans will enjoy the new format which we will try for a season and review in a year’s time.”

The exact numbers for each group will be determined once the FA makes decisions about promotion and relegation in and out of the league.

….and the cup’s off to Shildon

Shildon 1 South Shields 0 – Durham County FA Challenge Cup final

It took just one perfect cross by Shildon right back Marc Ellison and a thumping header by Billy Greulich-Smith to round the Railwaymen’s season off perfectly.

Their spirited display means that the Durham FA’s Challenge Cup once again goes to a team from the Ebac Northern League.  It was a win built on dogged determination, concentration and hard graft.

Unsurprisingly, South Shields played the neater, more technically adept football.  However, what was surprising was how few clear-cut chances they created.  Shildon keeper Shaun Newbrook was tested a couple of times, but he’s had busier matches this season.

No doubt he would have been much busier had their opponents not had to focus on their play-off game against Warrington today, meaning that last night’s team was severely depleted compared to what they would have normally fielded.

The game was relatively even matched in the opening 10 minutes.  The first real shot of the game came from South Shields No.4 Arron Thompson but he sliced his effort wide right.  The South Tyneside team passed the ball around effectively enough without threatening the Shildon defence until the 26th minute when Max Coburn hit a free kick that was heading for the top right corner of the Shildon goal until Newbrook punched the ball away.

There was a glimmer of a chance for Shildon in the 30th minute when Greulich-Smith met a cross with a header but put it tamely wide.

Going the other way, just about every South Shields attack came down their left hand side, with left back Oliver Scott the one who pushed Shildon back more than anyone else.  With under 10 minutes of the first half left Joachim Ursene Mouanda had a half-cross, half-shot tipped over by Newbrook and Gary Brown put a header wide.  Cowburn then had a shot parried away by Newbrook.

Shildon then had their best period of play in the half with Ellison sending over three dangerous crosses within the space of two minutes, but his team-mates couldn’t quite get on the end of them.

The second half saw each side trading efforts – a shot by Thompson blocked by his opposite number Aaron Duell and then a David Palmer shot for Shildon headed out by Brown.  And then 11 minutes after the re-start the deadlock was broken by Ellison’s perfect cross and Greulich-Smith’s equally impressive header.

The goal gave Shildon some fresh impetus and they looked more confident going forward.  Meanwhile South Shields continued to knock the ball round the pitch but couldn’t find a way through or round the Shildon defence.

With 15 minutes to go, the Shildon players looked as though the rigours of the match were starting to catch up with them but they stuck to their task, working hard to close down South Shields attacks by getting plenty of men behind the ball.  Twice in the closing stages of the game, Shields fans thought they’d scored but one chance went into the side netting and the second swept across the goal line before being put out for a goal kick.  There were more than four nervous minutes of time added on before referee Andrew Miller blew for full time and the Shildon celebrations could begin.

Mike Snowdon

Sunday sees the 10th anniversary of Whitley Bay FC winning the first of their three consecutive FA Vase Finals at Wembley Stadium, a unique achievement which may never be matched.

This Sunday around 40 former Bay players from the three Wembley squads will be playing in a North v South of the Tyne 30 minutes each way game with the two teams managed by former Bay manager  Ian Chandler (south) and his assistant Steve Cuggy (north).  The winners will receive the Mark Taylor ‘Ten Years On’ trophy. Originally planned as a fund-raiser for motor neurone disease research, it was decided to change and support the Livermore family following the tragic death of Robbie earlier this year.  As one of the club’s Vase winners from 2002, Robbie would undoubtedly have been very much involved in the occasion.

Kick off at Hillheads is at 1.00pm with proceeds from the day going to the Livermore family.

It should be a great occasion and reunion. Just two of the Vase winning players are still at Whitley Bay – Callum Anderson and Craig McFarlane. Many have now retired, most recently Paul Chow, who will be putting on his boots for one more time.

Mark Taylor played in the 2009 Final but it was his last game as soon after that great day out he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. Despite his illness, he has been heavily involved in the organisation of the event and here he explains more about the special reunion.

“As the ten year reunion of the 2009 victory at Wembley approached myself and a few players I am in regular contact with such as Paul Robinson, Phil Bell, David Coulson and Darren Timmons thought it would be a good idea to approach the club to do a reunion match. The initial thought was to play the current Whitley Bay team but a lot of the lads and management are very much past it now. I suggested that we could combine the three vase squads and have a North v South of the Tyne match. This idea quickly took off and Gary Ormston and David Pounder were tasked with letting the players and management know, most of wh0 fortunately could attend to the May 5th date set. It would have been nice for everyone to attend and play but unfortunately that was not possible but 90% of players will be playing like Sparky (Lee Kerr), Paul Chow, Paul Robinson and Chris Moore.

“The initial thoughts were to raise funds for MND but the tragic death of Robbie Livermore while we were organising things shifted the fund raising to raising money for his family. The club got behind the event straight away, producing a programme with memories over the three years, as well as support for Robbie’s family. Everyone is really looking forward to reuniting with old teammates and fans. It would be great to see as many fans as possible there to watch the game and reminisce about the most successful period in the history of the club and non league football nationally.”

Striker Paul Chow has just retired but will be putting on his boots again for this special occasion. He told the club website “I’m really looked forward to next weekend’s 10 year FA Vase reunion. It’ll be great to catch up with all the lads again and share a dressing room with so many top Northern League players. Although I’m excited to pull on my boots at Hillheads, playing in Robbie’s memory will make it very special. Hopefully a healthy crowd will help towards the collection for his family. Reminiscing about the Vase glory days is one of my favourite pastimes. A few of my memories from the first FA Vase victory…. Standing in the centre circle 90 minutes before ko and just trying to take it all in. Looking at the size of the stands and imagining it full. It was quite daunting. Thankfully those feelings subsided at ko. The time it takes for the roar to reach you from the fans seems to take an eternity. It was probably only milliseconds but it seems a hell of a lot longer. I’ve scored hundreds of goals during my career and that first goal at Wembley is my favourite. Everyone asks about the 21 seconds goal and I will always get reminded of that one as it put my name in the record books. But that first goal meant so much. Having reached the semi final 12 months earlier and been so close to playing at Wembley. At the time thinking we would never get that close again. To get there the following season to score and win the trophy was unbelievable.”

A special souvenir programme is being produced and will be on sale at the game price £1.50.  Anyone unable to attend can buy a copy for £2.50 which includes postage. For details contact wbfcinfo@gmail.com

Penrith 1 Carlisle United 3 – Cumberland Cup final

After the toss of a coin, Penrith were deemed the home club, even though they were playing at Brunton Park, the home of their opponents Carlisle United.

Penrith managed to score three of the four goals, and still ended up the losing side.  All a bit strange.

It started well for the Ebac Northern League side who were the first to get going, with Carlisle taking 10 minutes or so to find their way into the game.  Penrith suffered an early setback when No. 9 Stuart Gray was stretchered off after receiving treatment for five minutes.

But for all their efforts, too many of Penrith’s attacks ended with a player taking one touch too many or a failure to deliver a killer, final ball into the box.  They went behind in the 21st minute when Carlisle left back Liam Brockbank sent in a dangerous cross into the heart of the Penrith box.  Stuart Johnson tried to guide the ball back to Stuart Dixon only to mis-judge his kick, sending it past the stranded keeper and into the net.

Penrith came closest to scoring in the first half when left winger Matthew Clarke worked some space for himself 20 yards out from the Carlisle goal before his shot was touched out for a corner by keeper Louis Gray.  At the other end, Dixon was called into action to tip a Taylor Charters free kick over the bar.  It was to be the first of three top saves in the game by the No. 1.

With only a couple of minutes left in the first half, Penrith looked as though they were going to go into the break trailing by just the one goal, especially after defender Kyle May intercepted the ball just before it reached Carlisle No. 9 Keighran Kerr, but they were undone in the second minute of time added on with another own goal.  Brockbank sent another low, hard cross into the Penrith box only for Robbie Hebson to deflect it into the net to send them into the dressing room 0-2 down.

Dixon made his second goal-saving block in the opening minutes of the second half when he managed to get an arm to a Kerr shot after the Carlisle No. 9 had been set away one-on-one with the keeper.

Penrith finally got their reward for all their efforts in the 54th minute when Shaun Gardner made it 1-2 with a quality, curling shot round Gray.  They were gifted an opportunity to draw level in the 73rd minute when a neat passing move involving substitute Connor Shields and Adam Main saw the ball get to Clarke.  He managed to beat a Carlisle defender who brought him down just as he was about to shoot.  Gardner stepped up to take the penalty and he hit the spot kick low to his left but Gray guessed the right way and was able to save it.

In the closing 15 minutes of the game Penrith kept on pressing for an equaliser:  May had a header ricochet off one of his team mates standing a couple of yards out from the Carlisle goal and Shields just missed out on connecting with a cross by Hebson.  With nine minutes left, Dixon made his third save of the night – once again facing Kerr who had raced clear and once again getting an arm to the ball.

Dixon was at the centre of the last action of the game deep into time added on.  After going up for a corner at the other end, he got back in time to head the ball clear outside his own box, but it ended up at Carlisle’s Charlie Birch’s feet and he sent the ball looping back over the keeper as he raced back to his goal in vain.  The last kick of the game had sealed a 1-3 win in front of 618 people.

A decent, competitive game as the Cumberland FA’s showcase final brings the end of the season ever closer.

Mike Snowdon