Esh Winning 0v0 Stokesley SC
Arngrove Northern League Division 2
19th April 2008
The race to complete the current Northern League grounds reaches it’s final lap and the winning line is finally crossed at the aptly named Esh Winning, a former colliery village in County Durham, five miles to the west of Durham city, situated in the Deerness Valley. The name of the village comes from the older nearby village of Esh, which is a Saxon word for Ash, and Winning which was a Victorian term used when coal was found.
The first football club in the village were Esh Winning Rangers, formed in 1889 playing regional friendlies and minor league football before joining the Northern League in 1912-13, where they had a successful start winning the title and the Durham Benevolent Bowl in their debut season.
The club played at the Stags Head Recreation Ground, where a record crowd of over 5,000 saw a thrilling 4-5 defeat to eventual winners Bishop Auckland in the Amateur Cup Quarter Final in 1921, unfortunately the club were forced to fold four games into the 1934-35 season, unable to pay the Parish Council for the ground rent with their record and remaining fixtures taking up by West Auckland Town.
Esh Winning Albion came then went during the 1950’s until the present reincarnation of football in Esh and the current home of the club, a mile away in the neighbouring village of Waterhouses. Formed in 1967 as Esh Winning Pineapple, they purchasing the welfare grounds from the coal board as the local colliery faced imminent closure and began playing in the Durham Sunday League. It was during this era the club won many honours with West Terrace recording it’s best crowd; 1,500, for an FA Sunday Cup tie v Liverpool Fantail in 1978.
The club are nicknamed the Stags and began playing Saturday football in the Northern Alliance in 1981-82, the following season they dropped the fruity part of their name and joined the newly formed Northern League Division Two, £43,000 was spent on ground improvements and facilities, with the installation of new floodlights appearing later in 1999.
The ground has a picturesque setting, just like you'd imagine a ground set in a small village in the middle of nowhere would look like, found off the main road along a narrow lane, thankfully there’s a welcome sign at the lane junction because if there wasn’t, you’d never find the ground. West Terrace is very quaint with panoramic views of it’s hilly surroundings, my only previous knowledge of the village was the old Northern bus;725, which departed from Worswick Street in Newcastle and ran past our estate, with Esh Winning as it’s final destination, I remember thinking as a kid “where the hells that? It must be canny far away”
West Terrace’s has a current capacity 3,500, the main stand is on one side of the half way line with the clubhouse to the other, the stand has five rows of black bench seats with a peaked green roof, the changing rooms are below the stand, with two separate entrances for both sets of teams. The clubhouse has the tardis affect, small in appearance but quite roomy inside, with the refreshment bar at the side of the building. There is also a small cover on this side of the ground, the rest of the ground is open hard standing except the far goal has a small tin shed directly behind the goal and behind it a steep grass bank which has two park benches in each corner, which is a great spot to watch the game from.
The Stags have yet to win any honours since their Northern League return, but they have booked their place in this seasons Ernest Armstrong Cup Final, so the long wait for ANL honours could be over, before then there’s the small matter of tying up their league programme and the last game of the season against Stokesley SC.
I was disappointment to see no goals but not as disappointment as the Esh players and supporters must feel, they should have won easily but missed too many good chances, having one of those “ If we played all night….“ kinda days. The closest Esh came to breaking the deadlock was from their number 11 Chris Smith who saw two of his efforts smack the crossbar, Stokesley defended well and held on to gain a point, but Esh will feel it was two points lost, hopefully they’ll have their shooting boots on for the forthcoming cup final.
My completion of the current Northern League 43 was greeted without any fanfare or congratulate handshakes, on Non League Zone I go by the pseudonym of ‘Dims Spy’ those of you clever enough will work what the ‘Dims’ bit is, as far as the spy part is concerned, I appear at a new ground, take my pictures, make a few notes and leave going largely unnoticed, another successful mission accomplished, I await my next assignment.
I had the pleasure of watching most of the game with Stokesley club man Bert Hilton, he was telling me about the bungee-jumps he does for charity, with his next amazing feat being a jump off the Middlesbrough’s Transporter Bridge on the eve of his 73rd birthday. I would just like to wish Bert all the best and congratulate him on his charity work, good luck with the jump.
Ground no.169 West Terrace - Matchday Web album(14 pictures)
Update May 2008
Esh Winning went on to lift the Ernest Armstrong Cup, easily beating in form Sunderland RCA 3-0 in the final and so lifting their first piece of Northern League silverware.