My Matchday - 137 St James Park

Alnwick Town 0v5 Seaham Red Star
Arngrove Northern League Division Two
28th April 2007
Once said to be the best place in Britain to live,Alnwick is a picturesque market town in the heart of Northumberland,pronounced “Anick’ (not Alan Wick) the towns main aspect is the famous Alnwick Castle,the second largest inhabited castle in England,the home of the Percy family and the Earls and Dukes Of Northumberland since the fourteen century.The castle also doubles as the residence for a little specky wizard kid and his spellbinding pals in a series of films adapted from the books of JK Rowling,as well as appearing in the cunningly splendid comedy ‘Blackadder I’ and lest not forget the film ‘Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves’ where Kevin Costner played ‘An American Robin in Nottingham’
Alnwick lies 30 miles south of the border which makes Alnwick Town the most Northerly club to play in the FA Cup and Vase, the team have played at St James Park since 1900 on land leased to them by The Duke Of Northumberland,a famous football ground name if ever there was one,shared with a more famous club,as former league side Exeter City also play at a St.James Park.
Alnwick United Services were founded in 1879,with their first league action played in the North Northumberland League where they were champions in 1898/99,in 1923 they moved on to the East Northumberland League and during these early years the club were never settled on their name,changing it frequently between United and Town until retaining their present name from 1936 when they joined the Northern Alliance.
Their first title came in 1936/37,but it wasn’t until the 1960s and early 70s that the club enjoyed huge success winning the league eight times in ten seasons,together with many honours in various cup competitions.
The newly formed Northern League Division Two was set up in 1982 with Alnwick Town being one of the founder members,they had a brief spell in Division One when they won promotion in 1988/89 as runners up to Consett,after a promising eighth finish they suffered relegation the following year and they’ve struggled to make an impact ever since.
The club play in the classic black and white stripes just like the team that play at the real St.James Park (no not Exeter) on a pitch that has a great playing surface but with a slope that runs towards the corner flag at the clubhouse side of the ground.The clubhouse has a distinctive gable roof with a small standing section beside it,there’s a built up standing area at the entrance at the top of the ground behind the goal,which also has a players and officials car park.There’s a small covered seated area in between the dugouts which is basically eight rows of wooden planks divided into three rows of seats,behind the far goal in front of the neighbouring rugby ground is a ramshackle wooden framed covered area,which has one long bench made from nailing long planks of wood on top of one another,I noticed that no one sat on this bench and any arse over 14 stone would probably cause this seat to snap!
The game matched a Seaham side on a high after winning promotion,against a team low on confidence needing a point to hand the unwanted honour of the wooden spoon to Prudhoe.The class between the two sides was apparent with Red Star taking the lead when lofty striker Andy Jennings nodded in at the near post from a corner (see bottom picture)the home side battled to get back into the game before half time but they were let down by the final ball and it looked more likely that the visitors would build on their lead in the second half.
Seaham made a couple of changes at half time with one of those substitutes Warren Byrne scoring a brilliant individual goal on the hour mark,dribbiling through the Alnwick defence Ricky Villa style to make it 2-0,a spectator next to me then turned around and predicted “It’ll be 6-0” well he wasn’t far off,a goal a minute later from midfielder John Toft who smartly lobbed the keeper from the edge of the box before adding a spot-kick to make it four,a smashing second half performance from Red Star was complete when the long legs of Jennings stretched out to scissor kick the fifth and Seahams 99th league goal of the season.
Alnwick Town finished bottom of the league and if they are to be relegated they’ve applied for demotion into the Northern Alliance,but the word is they’ll be safe to play again in the Northern League next season,with no relegation due to the Unibond restructuring (as it was mentioned in the Prudhoe post)as for the current side it was obvious all there effort and good approach play was let down by their finishing,maybe a piece of wizard magic from local young resident Master Potter could do the trick.

Match report

June 2007 -Alnwick Town took the decision to step down from the Northern League at their own request, as club officials felt they were unable to hold on to their Northern League status.
Due to a lack of funds and manpower at St James Park, the club couldn’t meet the required ground criteria and with the possibility of the club moving to a new sports complex being built within the town in the next 2-3 years, the clubs committee felt it was best to take a step back before moving forward again.
The club will play in the Northern Alliance from 2007/08 season and hopefully we’ll see them return to the Northern League in their new venue.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this.