My Matchday - 148 Station Road

Norton & Stockton Ancients 4v0 Darlington RA
Arngrove Northern League 2nd Division
13th October 2007

Norton is a village within the borough of Stockton-on-Tees, lying due east of the town. The football marriage of the two is the amalgamation of Norton Cricket Club Trust, formed in 1959 playing in the Teesside League who took over the remaining assets of their illustrious neighbours and 3 times FA Amateur Cup winners Stockton Football and Athletic Club.
The Stockton Club had earlier folded in 1975 and later reformed at nearby Thornaby, their remaining wares were transferred to the Cricket Club Trust including the Victoria Ground goalposts which are still used today, in 1980 the club became Norton & Stockton Ancients, the Ancients was the nickname of the old Stockton club and the name was adopted as a tribute to their proud history.
A successful period in the Teesside League meant admission into the Northern League in 1982 and in that first season the club won the Northern League Cup, beating Whitby Town 2-1 in the final, but the Ancients have yet to taste promotion remaining in the ANL Second Division with a highest finish of 5th in 1998-99. The club was awarded the prestigious FA community club award for their development of 20 junior sides from under 7-17s, there’s also a women’s team as well as a successful over 40s side.
The Norton Sports Complex on Station Road is a multi-sports site, on arriving at the ground there’s the cricket pitch with the football ground further on, there’s several floodlit all weather pitches, so the ground is tricky to spot as you can’t just head towards the pylons, but thankfully the ground is well signposted, with ample car park space outside the entrance which is easy to spot with a set of very striking gates.
The paying entrance is in the left corner, behind the goal which has the grounds main facilities which includes refreshments, toilets and storage Portakabins which store those valuable aforementioned goal posts which are put up prior to the game, there’s also a club hospitality cabin which I took advantage of at half time with a cuppa tea, sausage roll and some exceedingly tasty quiche, which everyone commented on being very nice and was the main talking point over the fact that England were 3-0 up over Estonia. The cabins are painted black with trimmings of the main club colour of amber, there’s also a pitched roof with shelter up to the perimeter fence and the players changing rooms are set back next to the main entrance gates.
The main seated area is on the far side which has two separate stands close together, the smaller but taller of the two has a wooden frame with long benches put together with planks and supported by scaffold, while the longer narrow stand is also a wooden enclose and has two rows of similar seats at front and back, they both have a congregated iron roofs and are made more attractive with the supporting posts in the club colours and the front panel has advertisement boards, the rest of the ground is open standing made up of pathways and lawns.
Norton’s opponents today (and hopefully next week’s destination) are Darlington Railway Athletic, who’ve won all four away league games this season and scored 13 goals, while the hosts had an emphatic 8-0 win over Brandon United last Saturday, so I expected a competitive game with plenty of goals, I was happy to see four goals but surprised they were all in the same net as the Ancients comfortably beat RA, with two goals in each half.
The Ancients took the lead in the 14th minute courtesy of an own goal by Athletic defender Walton as his effort to cut out a low cross ended up with the ball nestling in the onion bag, five minutes later the lead was doubled thanks to a fine run by Marcus Laing whose shot took a slight deflecting on it’s way in, any chance of RA getting back into the contest in the 2nd half was laid to rest straight from the kick off as Ray Woodhouse went in bravely to get in front of a left wing cross to make it three. On the hour mark a major substitution was made when the referee pulled up with a hamstring injury, thankfully a reluctant replacement lineo was found meaning the game could continue with the tall skinny young linesman taking centre stage with the whistle, he had a trouble free half hour with no abuse or grief from players and managers, which very seldom happens. The game opened up with plenty of chances from both sides with some great saves from both goalies keeping the score down, until the home side capped a great win with Laing getting his second which was a carbon copy of his first, a run, a shot, and a deflection past the keeper.
The Ancients will be looking to built on some good performances in the last week and climb the table in their quest to finally play in the top division of the Northern League, the club motto is “suit stat viribus” which translates as “each to his own strengths” therefore the club can build on the strength of a committed junior development and a dedication to become one of the best clubs on Teesside.

Ground no.148 Station Road – Matchday web album.(17 pictures)

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