My Matchday - Revisiting Durham City

Durham City 2v0 Harrogate Town
FA Trophy 1st Round
13th December 2008
I’ve being wanting to do a revisit to Durham City this season, now they’ve broken away from the motherly apron strings of the Northern League and showed some real ambition by stepping up into the Unibond League. The current side has a few ex Heed players, namely Harra, Lawsey, Magic and Speedy, so with another football Saturday decimated by the weather, meaning no new ground prospects, this was the ideal opportunity to pay a visit, for what looked an attractive FA Trophy 1st Round clash with Harrogate Town.
The Citizens were last seasons Northern League champions and after a bit of uncertainty of will they or won’t they and questions over the ground’s criteria, they finally joined the ‘Great Unibond Juggernaut’ (an expression used by the Northern League hierarchy) where they’ve made an encouraging start, unbeaten in their first eleven league games in Northern Premier League Division One North.
Durham City were once a Football League club, admitted to Division 3 North in 1921, three years after their formation, after originally playing a season in the Victory League and a further two in the North Eastern League. In 1928 they failed to gain re-election, returning to the North Eastern League until the club went out of business in 1938 due to financial troubles. During this era the club played at three different grounds, their first season was played on Garden House Park then four seasons at Kepier Heughs, until moving to Haliday Park (which was named after the former mayor) until the club disbanded.
They reformed in 1950, moving to Ferens Park, named after the clubs benefactor and club president; Alderman H.C. Ferens. After two seasons in the Wearside League they joined the Northern League, then in 1957 the ground staged it’s record attendance, 7,000 for an FA Cup tie with Tranmere Rovers, which resulted in a 3-0 victory to the visitors.
City won the Northern League Division One for the first time in 1993-94, then applied to join the Northern Premier League, but were unable to gain promotion due to the incompletion of their new ground, so the club had to ground share with Chester-le-Street Town for a season, until work was finished in 1995.
The stadium is on the Belmont Industrial Estate, just a mile off the A1 on the A690, on the outskirts of Durham, a city which is famous for it’s cathedral and Norman castle and is one of the most picturesque views on the east coast train line when approaching Durham station.
When I originally visited this ground it was called New Ferens Park, then later renamed Archibald Stadium, but now there’s a new sponsored brand name; the Arnott Stadium. The ground has one main stand with a seating capacity of 300 blue flip seats, where access is found up a flight of stairs as you emerge through the turnstile, the refreshment bar is at the side of the stand, with a hospitality bar and a tannoy booth situated at the back. The stands extended roof allowing cover for a further 600 spectators, with further hard standing on the other three sides, there’s also a shelter to accommodate disabled supports on the nearside. The clubhouse is outside next to the main entrance, which neighbours a children’s nursery and the big blue building behind the far goal is Soccarena, an indoor football complex.
Durham’s opponents were Harrogate Town, two league levels higher, currently sitting in a play-off spot in the Conference North. On paper this looked a tough one, but football isn’t played on paper it’s played on grass, but in Durham City’s case, on plastic, as the Arnott Stadium has a 3G all weather pitch, which proved to be a great leveller as City ran out comfortable winners by two unanswered goals.
Durham looked more lively than their opponents from North Yorkshire, with the City front two of Richardson and Johnston keeping the Town defence on their toes all afternoon, as they applied a high defensive line, happy playing the offside trap at every opportunity. The opening goal arrived in first half stoppage time, a corner from the left was met by ex-Gateshead (and my ex-work colleague) Mickey Laws, with a fine header, finding the net via the angle of post and bar.
In the second half the light persistent showers turned into a heavy downpour, Harrogate improved slightly, however the match was settled on 70 minutes, from another corner kick the referee spotted a handball in the box, resulting in Adam Johnston making no mistake from the spot.
A great performance from Durham City, they’ve assembled a very good side, and have now knocked out two Conference North sides in the FA Trophy, as they remain the only North-East club left in the competition. They also look a good bet for promotion, which I’d really love to see them achieve, proving the doubters wrong and getting their just rewards for showing some ambition.
(Revisiting Ground no.79, first visit 2/8/01-Durham City 0v5 Newcastle United, Pre-season friendly)

Matchday stats
DCFC 2 (Laws 45+1, Johnston 70pen) HTFC 0
Admission £8
Programme £1.50


Anonymous said...

just to let u know the penalty was for handball not a push

Shaun said...

That's what I initially thought, as I was sure I heard Durham players appealing, but people sat around me said it was for a push.
I'll edit the post..Cheers!