Following the floodlight vandalism at Brandon Utd last October, we are pleased to update you with our Football Foundation application to secure funding to replace and upgrade the existing floodlights. We have been successful in our application and have been awarded £50,695.00.

This includes for electrical wiring to the clubhouse and team changing rooms. We will be appointing Harvey Electrical from Darlington who have supported the club during this time.

The work on replacing the old lights, wiring, controls should take place in the next few weeks, subject to the current corona situation in the country. As for the works to the clubhouse and changing rooms, this will be phased after the floodlight work is completed.

Brandon United would like to thank Langley Moor Developments and Renewable Energy Network for their community support with the funding application.  The club was also successful with their Sports England bid for a Pitch Maintenance grant for £1,500. This is be used to buy seed and fertilizers and other pitch applications.

From Billingham Town secretary Ray Morton:

Paul Beddow took over the role of chairman at Billingham Town in February 2018 with club debts and falling crowds.
He set about restructuring and over the next few months brought in myself who had experience from Thornaby, Jarrow and Norton .He appointed ex-Thornaby manager Paul Edwards and brought back former manager Barry Oliver to work together for season 2018/19 with the expectation of consolidating both the playing and off field activity.  Husband and wife team Neil and Sarah Martin held the communications and treasurer’s roles and several volunteers returned including another husband and wife team Ian Stewart as groundsman and Paula as catering manager.
Paul embarked on a recruitment exercise for local firms and managed to get substantial funds including main sponsors  Utility Alliance, Drive Vauxhall, both Hartlepool companies. Many more companies came on board and Northfield school children started to produce the match programmes .The team started the session well in division two and a lengthy unbeaten run saw them top of the table at Xmas with the enigmatic goal scorer Craig Hutchinson banging in the goals.  He was to win the golden boot award at the end of the season .
The playing side went well all season and we gained promotion on the last day of the season with a 2-1 win at Heaton Stannington to the delight of everyone Paul never expected this trophy after taking over .
Promotion to division one saw the team end up 10th a respectable position but issues with floodlights beset the end of season coupled with the corona virus.  However with support from the committee,  grants have been obtained, local councillors and public support has grown. crowds were up and Paul continued with fund raising and practical tasks at the ground and clubhouse .He retired from Durham police last year as Chief superintendent and everyone at the club wishes him well in the future he has left this club in a fit and proper condition and we are so grateful for his help as chairman.  Former police Chief Supt John Tough has taken over as interim chairman and will be getting a handover from Paul in coming weeks.
John added:
“ Firstly I would like to thank Paul for the hard work, time and unerring commitment he has demonstrated in achieving substantial progress and financial stability for this Club. His achievements cannot be underestimated and the board and supporters owe him an immense gratitude. I fully intend to embrace the legacy left by Paul of which he can be immensely proud and work to enhance the future progress of this great Club. I am grateful for the support I have received over the last two years from the board and supporters and I thank you for your previous kind comments.
I will endeavour to work hard on behalf of the Club, supporters, players and playing staff to ensure we are in an even stronger position to move forward by ensuring we have the correct infrastructure and strategies in place on and off the field. I am not a pessimist and we should believe in ourselves and use that self-belief to thrive. I believe the future is bright, yes there will be some challenges but nothing we can’t overcome together as a progressive board, magnificent supporters and players. I consider it a privilege and an honour to chair this Club and hopefully you will all support me as we move forward together .”

The Ebac Northern League held its annual general meeting online today.

Clubs were updated on the impact of the pandemic on the National League System (NLS).

It was announced that former Heaton Stannington secretary Ken Rodger has been awarded the Arthur Clark Memorial Trophy (see separate story).

Next year’s AGM will be held at Crook Town.


Clubs were updated on the situation regarding the Covid-19 virus and the resumption of non-league football following a virtual meeting organised by the FA involving Steps 5 & 6 leagues earlier this month:

Various scenarios have been drafted as to how and when the 20/21 season might start but they rely on Government giving the green light and the FA Executive is working closely with Government to identify the protocols that will allow the NLS to start.

With the FA facing a shortfall in income over the next four years, prize money for FA cup competitions, including the FA Cup and the Vase, will be reduced.

Games in the 20/21 season cannot start until matches can be played with spectators present.

Covid-19 Scenario Planning

Scenarios planned mean consideration is given to any start date up until January 2021, as full a season and as much inclusion in FA competitions as possible, taking into account clubs use of bar and food outlets, the impact on volunteers and players and officials’ other commitments post lockdown.

Potential fixture scheduling would see:

August start, usual season; September, still a full season if consideration is given to suspension of league and county cup competitions; October, a full season may still be possible with an extension into May; November, there may be still enough dates but would appear unsuitable due to lack of fall back dates and a tight schedule.  Post November would involve a reduction in the number of games through sides playing either home or away, or splitting divisions either by geography or a draw.

Any later play would involve a revised tournament, such as a geographical competition from a mixture of steps or doubling the amount of divisions and halving fixtures and travel.

Other options being considered would involve playing behind closed doors with ‘streaming’ of matches or playing with restricted crowds but consideration needs to be given to sporting integrity and any potential local lock down or second spike considerations.

Covid-19: Club Guidance

Government guidance will be to give ‘direction’ to clubs on how to modify their club accordingly, as all clubs are different.  Football activity guidance on how to return to training and competitive football, player welfare such as travel, welfare, equipment and medical/ physiotherapy advice driven by the FA medical team.

Facilities: training facilities and changing rooms, clubhouses/bars and spectator gatherings. Each club must undertake a risk assessment and or action plan on how it has modified and considered the implications of Covid-19 on their club.  The club must publish this on their website, to give reassurance to other clubs they have made their club safe and notify the League they have published their guidance to ensure members have complied.

Grassroots guidance released via covers current Government guidance and will support initial thoughts while NLS club guidance will go beyond specific Government sport guidance and will get cross departmental approval from the medical, legal departments and the DCMS with an aim to get clubs preparing for a potential new season by the end of June.

The FA is aware of how Covid-19 has impacted on finances and has undertaken a large piece of work to understand the effect of a ‘no games’ scenario and is looking at ways with Government support and Sport England to support clubs.

The most delicate time for a club will when they return from ‘hibernation’ having lost money from the remaining games, no summer income and still have costs to modify their grounds.

Former Heaton Stannington secretary Ken Rodger has been awarded the Arthur Clark Memorial Trophy after 60 years’ service to grassroots football.

The Ebac Northern League’s trophy is presented annually to the person who best represents the values of the league.

League chairman Glenn Youngman said:  “Ken has been a real stalwart of the league for many years and one of the most recognisable people at games around the region.

“As soon as someone suggested that he receives this year’s trophy, there was unanimous support by colleagues on the League Management Committee.

“We’re all delighted that Ken is on the mend after being diagnosed with cancer earlier this year.  Hopefully this presentation will boost his spirits even further.”

Ken, who is 82, had to stand down as Heaton Stannington’s secretary when he was diagnosed  He said:  “It’s  a tremendous honour to be awarded the trophy and I’m very grateful to the league.”  He was also presented with a tankard.  Ken  is also a former secretary at Ryton & Crawrook Albion.

Ken played junior and senior football before becoming a referee and then moving into coaching and administration.

His Northern League experience saw him appointed as secretary for Ryton F.C. in 2005, when they were first promoted to the league, and he was with the club until 2013, and during this period he was chosen as the Northern League Unsung Hero by member clubs.

He had 2013 -14 season off but realised that watching games and not having any input was not for him and got involved again when Derek Thompson, ‘The Stan’s’ Manager, asked him if he would take on the  secretary’s role at newly-promoted Heaton Stannington at the start 2014/15 season.

Hebburn Town has announced that they have partnered with national energy consultancy company The Green Energy Advice Bureau as the new sponsors of the Hebburn Sports Ground facility.

The two year 5 figure deal begins in 1st July 2020 and will see the ground name changed to “THE GREEN ENERGY SPORTS GROUND”.

Director of football Stephen Rutherford said of the deal

“We are delighted to work with The Green Energy Advice Bureau and for them to become an integral partner with the club for the next couple of years.

“At a time when everyone is feeling the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic financially as well as emotionally, the company have stepped up to invest and have shown commitment, trust and lots of enthusiasm towards helping the clubs strategic plans over the coming years.

“These types of partnerships are excellent for a club of Hebburn Town’s stature and potential.

“I’d like to thank everyone involved in helping make this happen and look forward to a bright future with the team at The Green Energy Advice Bureau behind the football club

“I’d personally like to Thank our outgoing ground sponsors The Energy Check for their support over the past two seasons”

The Green Energy Advice Bureau director Paul Cobb commented:

“We are delighted to be partnering with Hebburn Town for the next two years. It is a hugely exciting time to team up with such a brilliant club destined for great things. Not to mention, we look forward to engaging with the loyal fanbase to help reduce their energy bills and carbon footprint too”

The Green Energy Advice Bureau, which specialises in fully managed end-to-end bespoke energy consultancy, currently employs over 100 staff, with offices in both South Shields and Sunderland.

The consultancy helps their customers both find competitive costings on their business energy bills and makes them more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

By Brian Bennett

It started out as being a ‘small gesture’ to help lift the spirits of one of their fans – but rapidly escalated and hit the dizzy heights after going global never mind viral on social media platforms. Ashington FC chairman Brian Shotton made a short trip in Wansbeck to spring a surprise on supporter and club volunteer David Bainbridge – presenting him with his own personalised black & white shirt, a training jumper and a Colliers hoody.

The package also included a first in the history of the club as David was awarded a lifelong season ticket. His nephew Ross Thompson – another volunteer at the Woodhorn Lane based outfit as a photographer – captured the moment on video and David’s reaction was heartwarming and priceless, reducing many viewers to tears. Brian Shotton said: “David comes along on a match day with his nephew Ross (Thompson) and sells football and domino cards. It is a fundraiser for the football club and supporters club with the proceeds going to senior and junior teams and also towards other work in the community.

He’s really good at it and perfect for the job. I know Ross quite well and David was clearly feeling a bit down about not getting out as much and missing people at the football club due to the pandemic so I thought it would be nice to take a bit of the football club up to him. At this level of the football pyramid with us attracting 200-250 fans it’s a very inclusive group of people and we try our very best to look after everyone who attends. We have some really good people at the club; it’s a good town and if I hear that someone who has come along, have had a good day and have been made to feel welcome or feel part of the place then I’m happy because that is our aim.” He continued: “The most important thing in all of this is David – the main exercise in this was to make this guy – who was missing something that was important in his life – happy.

The video had me in tears to be honest and the last few days have been overwhelming – but in a good way – for the club. Most importantly though we are delighted David has got the appreciation and love he deserves. We have had so many kind comments, e-mails and donations and have sold Ashington shirts both home and abroad. David is an absolute diamond that I’m proud to say is part of our club.” Ian Reid, chairman of the Ashington FC supporters club said: “I have calculated that over the years, David has generated between £3,500 and £4,000 for the club by selling the football and domino cards – which is phenomenal. He clearly enjoys it along with the banter he receives and he is equally devastated if he can’t attend a match. He is an integral part of the club and has become a lifelong mascot. What the club have done is thoroughly deserved.” Ross Thompson said David and his family have been ‘blown away’ with the attention the story has brought: “Ashington FC is deep in my uncle’s heart,” said Ross, “David loves the club, the players and the fans and being able to help on match days by selling cards and singing from the stand makes him as proud as anything! I cannot explain what this gesture and presentation from the club means to him. It came as a complete surprise – and it’s not the first time the club have made him feel special. A couple of years ago the supporters club gave him a trophy for being the best domino card seller. He was made up about it.

The fans and players have also gone out of their way and he has been made to feel part of the club. It’s unreal. I have shown David as many of the comments as I can and he thanks everyone.” It’s a unique story which has gripped the nation during what are currently difficult times. Comments on social media have come from across the globe including Italy, Brazil and Cologne. Others suggested that Ashington FC be nominated as ‘club of the year’; described the presentation as ‘non league football at its brilliant best’; ‘pure class’ and ‘take a bow it’s a fantastic gesture.’ Ashington-born footballer Mark Cullen – now with Port Vale – tweeted ‘different class from my hometown club – just shows what non league football right down the pyramid does for people’ whilst former Colliers chairman Ian Lavery the MP for Wansbeck remarked: ‘what a great gesture from Ashington FC and the fantastically dedicated chairman Brian Shotton – you’re what our communities all about. So proud of you all.’

Caption: A smile which is worth a thousand words!: pictured is David (forefront) with his personalised football shirt. Looking on is Nicola Shotton, Brian Shotton and Ian Reid.