The annual end-of-season awards in the Ebac Northern League have been announced.

The Arthur Clark Award for voluntary work for club and league went to Jennifer and Derek Breakwell.  Sadly Derek, who was secretary at Whitley Bay and a member of the League Management Committee, passed away earlier this season.  Jennifer continues to work as a volunteer at the club.

The managers of the teams who topped the two divisions – Brian Atkinson and Ben Wheatley – were named Managers of the Year, while Aycliffe captain Aaron Brown and Birtley Town’s Aidan Rutledge were the Players of the Year for Division One and Division Two respectively.  Whickham’s Scott Robson and Horden’s Jack Maskell won the Young Player of the Year awards.

League chairman Glenn Youngman said:

“We were delighted to choose Jennifer and Derek Breakwell as the recipients of the Arthur Clark award.  It’s a bitter sweet award having sadly lost our colleague Derek, but it’s a fitting tribute to their unstinting work.

“The individual and team awards also show the depth of quality in the league, both on and off the pitch.  Tonight marks the end of a thrilling season which we hope fans and spectators have enjoyed.”

The full list of awards are:

Arthur Clark Memorial Award:

Derek and Jennifer Breakwell.

Managers of the Year:

Division One – Brian Atkinson of Newton Aycliffe.

Division Two – Ben Wheatley of Boro Rangers.

Players of the Year:

Division One – Aaron Brown of Newton Aycliffe.

Division Two – Aidan Rutledge of Birtley Town.

BBC Radio Newcastle Player of the Season

Aidan Rutledge of Birtley Town.

Young Players of the Year:

Division One – Scott Robson of Whickham.

Division Two – Jack Maskell of Horden CW.

Top goal scorers:

Division One – Liam Jarvie of Newton Aycliffe.

Division Two – Aidan Rutledge of Birtley Town.

Referee of the Year:

Kieran Graham.

Fair Play awards:

Division One – Ashington

Division Two – Esh Winning.

(The Fair Play award is based on on-field discipline with the winners accruing the fewest points for cautions, dismissals and misconduct.)

Respect awards:

Division One – joint winners:  Thornaby and Whitley Bay.

Division Two – Horden CW.

(The Respect award goes to the clubs with the fewest bookings and dismissals for dissent.)

Special commemorative salvers were also presented to Bishop Auckland and Ashington.  Bishop Auckland passed their 3,000th game in the league during the season and Ashington played their 2,000th game in the league in their final match of the season against Bishop Auckland.

Seven clubs won Administrative Awards for completing the season without incurring an administration penalty:  Ashington, Tow Law Town, West Allotment Celtic, Whitley Bay, Birtley Town, Chester-le-Street Town and Jarrow.

Framed certificates were also presented to Newton Aycliffe and Boro Rangers for winning their respective divisions.

£1,000 was also raised for Cancer Research UK at the event.

(Pictured is Jennifer Breakwell receiving the Arthur Clark Memorial Trophy from League President George Courtney.)

Tonight sees our annual presentation event where awards are given to individuals, teams and clubs.
The winners will be posted on Twitter @theofficialnl as they happen from around 9.30pm.
Among the awards will be Young Players, Players and Managers of the Year for both divisions.

The FA today released the allocations of clubs to leagues in the National League System (NLS).

Division One:

North Shields and Shildon have been relegated from the Northern Premier League East to the Ebac Northern League Division One (at Step 5 in the NLS).

Sunderland RCA has been reprieved because of resignations and a voluntary relegation in other leagues in the NLS and stays in the division because of their points per game rating from last season.

Boro Rangers and Birtley Town have been promoted from Division Two (Step 6 in the NLS), while Pickering Town has been laterally moved to the Toolstation Northern Counties East League.

For the 2023/24 season Division One will comprise: Birtley Town, Bishop Auckland, Boro Rangers, Carlisle City, Crook Town, Guisborough Town, Heaton Stannington, Newcastle Benfield, North Shields, Northallerton Town, Penrith, Redcar Athletic, Seaham Red Star, Shildon, Sunderland RCA, Tow Law Town, West Allotment Celtic, West Auckland Town, Whickham and Whitley Bay.

Division Two:

Thornaby has been relegated to Division Two.  Sunderland West End has also been reprieved as one of the best second bottom placed clubs ranked according to points per game.  Willington has been relegated.

FC Hartlepool, Newcastle Blue Star and Yarm & Eaglescliffe have been promoted to the division from feeder leagues.

For the 2023/24 season Division Two will comprise: Bedlington Terriers, Billingham Synthonia, Billingham Town, Blyth Town, Boldon CA, Brandon United, Chester-le-Street Town, Chester-le-Street United, Easington Colliery, Esh Winning, FC Hartlepool, Horden CW, Jarrow, Newcastle Blue Star, Newcastle University, Prudhoe YC Seniors, Redcar Town, Ryton & Crawcrook Albion, Sunderland West End, Thornaby, Washington and Yarm & Eaglescliffe.

Ebac Northern League cups

The League Management Committee has decided that both the Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup and the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup will be held in the 2023/24 season.  (The league cup is for teams from both divisions, while the EA cup is for second division teams.)

The draws for the preliminary and first rounds will be held at the annual general meeting on Saturday, June 17,

The Cleator Cup – the traditional season opener for the league – will be contested between the winners of last season’s divisions:  Newton Aycliffe will host Boro Rangers.  (The Cleator Cup is usually between the league champions and the winners of the league cup but the league cup was not held last season.)

The match will be played on Saturday, July 22.

League chairman Glenn Youngman said: “We’re delighted to welcome FC Hartlepool,  Newcastle Blue Star and Yarm & Eaglescliffe to the league in what promises to be a very competitive second division.

“Thanks also to Newton Aycliffe and Boro Rangers for agreeing to play the Cleator Cup to start our new season.”



Jarrow FC senior team invite applications for the vacant manager’s post.

“We are looking for a manager who shares our beliefs and ambitions and can build a successful team.”

Applications, including current CV setting out your experience and any qualifications, should be sent to Kevin Mullen at:  kevin.mullen@tclarke.co.uk by May 12.

Billingham Town 2 Birtley Town 2 (4-5 after penalty shoot-out) – Division Two promotion play-off final:

Despair and joy came with the last two kicks of the season.  A penalty saved, a penalty converted.   Another season in Division Two for Billingham Town.  Promotion for Birtley Town.

In a see-saw match, Birtley won it the hard way:  taking the lead, conceding an equaliser and then falling behind before equalising themselves with only four minute of the 90 to go.

And they despatched five out of five in the penalty shoot-out to win promotion.

It capped a remarkable season for the team in the hoops, but spare a thought for Billingham Town who showed a bagful of character to come back and get within minutes of promotion themselves, only to fall at the last hurdle with the second last kick of the season.

The game itself was a bit strange – some great chances along with the goals – but long periods when they two teams were able to contain each other’s attacking ambitions.  In the opening 15 minutes both came close to opening the scoring:  Billy Town defender Tom Price with a great sliding tackle to stop an Aidan Rutledge shot and then Billingham No. 10 Luke Spalding taking a through ball to get one-on-one with Birtley keeper Conor Grant who was able to spread himself to push the ball wide.  Spalding continued to be a threat throughout the game.

Birtley took the lead with the last kick of the half.  Liam Wotherspoon hit a weak shot that somehow squirmed past Billingham keeper James Winter at the near post before creeping over the line.

Billingham created a couple of openings after the re-start.  Mathew Wade seeing a shot taken at the second time of asking by Grant who then punched away a cross by Dave Gordon with Jack Pounder running in on goal.  Birtley replied in the 65th minute – Glen Hargrave hitting a shot against the post.  Two minutes later Billingham were level.  Spalding found Pounder with a cross and the No. 9 turned the Birtley defence before scoring in the top right corner, giving Grant no chance at a save.

Birtley countered by hitting the post for the second time, this time it was Rutledge who rattled the woodwork before Billy Town were able to clear the ball from close to their goal line.

The final swung Billingham’s way in the 75th minute.  Paul Braithwaite found Spalding, with his shot well saved by Grant but Braithwaite was able to hit a follow-up shot that careered off a defender guarding the line and into the net.

The visitors were reduced to 10 men when Sam Hedley was sin binned for dissent but there was still enough time for a Birtley equaliser.  Billingham Town had done a pretty good job of containing Rutledge but it took him only a second or two for him to lose his marker at a corner and find the net with a glancing header to send the match to the shoot-out.

It was all square after the fourth spot kick but Grant was able to get to Billy Town’s fifth and Callum Turnbull tucked away Birtley’s fifth to propel the club into the First Division and start the celebrations on and off the pitch.

Love them or hate them, the play-offs certainly draw the crowds, with 1,315 turning up at Bedford Terrace to see the final.

Mike Snowdon

Birtley Town were today promoted to the First Division after a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Billingham Town.

The scores were level at 2-2 at full time but Birtley went on to win the shoot-out 5-4 in front of a crowd of 1,315 at Bedford Terrace.

All three Division Two promotion play-off matches were decided on penalties.

League chairman Glenn Youngman said:  “It’s a wonderful result for Birtley Town, especially to win the tie in such a nail-biting fashion.

“But commiserations to Billingham Town who had a marvellous season but fell just short.”