Arngrove Northern League 1st Division
30th December 2006
My last match of 2006 turned out to be an unplanned but welcome visit to Welfare Park,home of the Bedlington Terriers.
Due to heavy rain the ANL programme was a wash out,and of the seven surviving fixtures their was two grounds I hadn’t been to,the other being Alnwick Town,so I went for the closer option.
Welfare Park is tucked within a housing estate,I struggled to find it and arrived at the ground at 3.05,with the turnstile operator cheekily informing me that "the match had kicked off at 3 O’Clock and the score was still nowts each".
The Terriers have had a long and eventfull history,formed in 1949 the present club played in the Northern Combinations League as Bedlington Mechanics,in the early fifties they changed their name to Colliery Town and then Bedlington Colliery Welfare when they won their first title,before joining the Northern Alliance League in 1955/56.
The clubs history has had many ups and downs,including disbandment and reformation,another name change as Bedlington United,playing in minor leagues and the Tyneside Amateur League, league titles and cup honours in the Northern Alliance,including the “double” in 1966/67,before becoming founder members of the newly formed Northern League 2nd Division in 1984/85,finishing as runners-up and promotion to the 1st Division in their first season.
In 1993 the club found itself at rock bottom and with the prospect of going out of business,they sat bottom of the 2nd Division,with their fixtures suspended for a month,but a rescue package was put together from Bedlington club veteran Billy Ward with the financial help from local businessmen Dave and Keith Perry,gave birth to the “Terriers”
The club went from strength to strength,winning promotion the following season,and progressed with wins in the League Cup and winning the Northumberland Senior Cup beating Morpeth Town 2-0 at St. James Park,the hard work that had seen the club nearly disappearing was rewarded,winning the first of 5 consecutive league titles from 1997/98,sadly the club saviour Mr Ward wasn’t alive to witness the clubs resurrection.
The Terriers current ground at Dr Pit Welfare Ground is Bedlington’s third home,they originally played at West Sleekburn ‘A’ Pit,and after the reformation in 1965 they took up residence at Milnes Park,where they stayed for three seasons before the club move to their current home.
The ground is made up of a main stand with a small seated area called the Jack Carter Stand,the home team dugout is in front of this,the opposite end you have the away team dugout,which gives the away team officials the inconvenience of having to walk across the clarty pitch,the rest of this side of the ground is made up of three sheltered standing areas with five thin floodlight pylons.
Behind each goal is an open standing area,like I mentioned earlier,the ground is hidden away amongst a housing estate,where the residents behind one goal have an exclusive and free view of all Terriers matches,either from the bedroom window or if you fancy a bit of fresh air,a gap in your garden fence,where I saw two young lasses take advantage of this facility.
The players tunnel is in the corner of the ground,next to the clubhouse,beside this there is a built up office,where club officials view the game from,or maybe you could describe it as a poor mans executive box,I know if SKY ever visited Bedlington,it would be ideal for “Old hairy hands” Richard Keys to view to game from along with his studio guest.
Being my first visit to Welfare Park,my only recollections are seeing them on TV,either on the local sports news when they had success in getting to Wembley for the FA Vase or on Match of The Day when they had that fabulous 4-1 win over Colchester in the FA Cup in 1998.But it doesn’t matter what time of the year you view Welfare Park the pitch always looks a mud bath,today was obviously no exception,but I did see a good game of football with league leaders Nissan stretching there lead at the top to eight points,thanks to two second half goals from inform striker Gavin Cogden.
The Home view- http://www.bedlingtonterriersfc.co.uk/
The Away view-http://www.nissanfc.co.uk/fixture/21
I enjoyed my last minute trip to the home of the Terriers,and pleased to see the club survive,after another summer of discontent which almost saw the club extinct,it again needed history to repeat itself in the shape of a local businessman to come to the rescue,on top of all that there was a serious arson attack on the clubhouse,which has just recently been reopened and will provide much needed revenue to the club.
It will be a struggle to starve of relegation this season,but with a dog of a pitch,which can be a great leveller against better sides,and a barking mad loyal support,things aren’t as rough as it seems,and the club maybe will have to take a step back and paw their way back again,as they did in the past. “Woof Woof Terriers”
(sorry about the quality of the pictures,but with the trip being a last minute decision,I forgot my camera and had to use my phone)