Newcastle Benfield v Northwich Victoria Match Report . Fa Vase Match Programme and Highlights.

A large and expectant crowd, including over 100 noisy away fans, gathered at Sam Smith’s Park for this FA Vase fourth round tie. Those interested neutrals seeking excitement, entertainment and thrills would not be disappointed, though it was the travelling support who would leave the ground in a state of elation, compared to the dejection of the home faithful. Without seeking to take sides in the schism that has bedevilled football in Northwich, it is abundantly clear that it is the Vics rather than the breakaway club 1874, whom we played in round 2 of course, that have the passion and history in their corner.

 

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If there was a contrast between the two Northwich clubs off the pitch, there was also a clear contrast between the playing styles of the two teams in this contrast. Benfield, as ever, played a contained and fluent passing game, while Northwich sought to bang the ball high, hard and long towards centre forward Robert Doran. However, the opening goal came from a moment of measured accuracy. Twice in the opening minutes Northwich keeper Taberner had escaped after wildly slicing his clearances; unfortunately, there was no such luck for Andy Grainger after 13 minutes, when his spooned effort landed at the feet of Joel Brownhill, who returned the ball into the net with power and placement. Despite playing the better football, Benfield were undone twice more before the break. Two perfectly placed headers, firstly by Harvey Whyte after 27 minutes and then by Matthew Clarke after 35, seemed to have ended the game as a contest. This seemed to be reinforced when Jake Orrell’s brilliant long-range effort came back off the bar with Taberner beaten.

 

After the break, Benfield finally woke up and decided to have a proper go at the opposition, which was mainly as a result of a more attacking approach aided by the belated introduction of Dennis Knight from the bench. Taberner, after a quiet opening period, earned his corn with brilliant, flying saves from firstly Jake Orrell and then Dennis Knight. However, he was perhaps culpable for Benfield’s first goal when he dropped a routine catch after allowing himself to be distracted by the imposing physical presence of Scott McCarthy, which gave captain Mark Turnbull the opportunity to turn the loose ball home. Northwich, after appearing in control, began to wobble and when Dennis Knight rolled in a glorious finish past a static Taberner, they hit the panic button. Twice in the closing minutes clear penalties for a wrestling hold on Dale Pearson and Paul Brayson almost having the shirt torn from his back, were not given by the floundering officials. Admittedly, Andrew Grainger had also twice made astonishing saves from Northwich breaks, but it certainly seemed if the proverbial game of two halves could and should have gone to extra time. Instead, Benfield reluctantly bowed out, rueing a dire first half performance that left them too much to do

Paul Brayson presented Northwich Victoria fans with his shirt from his playing days at the Vics. ⚽️

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Newcastle Benfield v Northwich Victoria 05/01/2019

Buildbase FA Vase Round 4

NEWCASTLE BENFIELD FC CLUB DIRECTORY

Ground: Sam Smith’s Sports Ground, Benfield Road,

Walkergate, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 4NU

President: Mick Currell

Chairman: Jimmy Rowe

Vice Chairman: Dave Robson

Club Secretary: Gary Thompson

Director of Football: Mark Hedley

Matchday Secretary: Allan Young

Football Committee Members: Keith Anderson, Trevor Atkins, Steve Boyle, Joe Buglass, Ian Caruthers, Ben Davison, Darren Davison, Micky Emmerson, Eric Hedley, Alan Tait, Ian Tait

Ground Maintenance: Stan Thompson

Website Co-ordinator: Steve Boyle

Social Media: Luke Vinton

Programme Editor: Ian Cusack (iancusack@blueyonder.co.uk)

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Editor’s notes…

I’d like to welcome everyone connected with Northwich Victoria, players, fans and officials, to Sam Smith’s Park for this afternoon’s Buildbase FA Vase Round 4 tie. I trust our visitors from Cheshire enjoy their short stay with us and have a safe journey home back at full time. Of course, this is our third successive home tie in this year’s competition, our third successive pairing with a team from the North West Counties Premier Division and our third successive contest against opponents from Cheshire, after 1874 Northwich and then Runcorn Town. The thing that makes today’s tie extra special isn’t just the chance of a last 16 spot when the competition goes national, but it pits our very own Paul Brayson against the club where he spent a couple of seasons about a decade and a half ago.

We were last here on December 8th, when goals by Jake Orrell and that man Brassy helped us to a comfortable 2-0 win over West Auckland Town. Next up we got the better of our old foes West Allotment Celtic in the League Cup, clinching a place in the last 8 by winning 3-1 at their newish home of Druid Park, the former home of Blue Star. Following that, we went to unbeaten league leaders Dunston UTS and drew 1-1 in a game we dominated, but that was overshadowed by a sickening triple fracture to the eye socket, cheekbone and jaw sustained by Joe Robson, after a reckless, unpunished elbow by Michael Pearson. We all wish Joe, who has been absolutely outstanding for us so far, the very best in his recovery,

especially as he’s undergone surgery to aid in his recuperation. Here’s hoping he’s back on the pitch very soon.

Last time around, we won 2-1 away to Guisborough Town, so our unbeaten run now extends to 15 games. After today, presuming there is no replay, we are next in action on Saturday 12th at home to Shildon. As ever, all updates, changes to fixtures and items of club news will be announced on Twitter at @NcleBenfield and highlights of games can be seen on our account @NcleBenfieldTV as well as on our YouTube channel. Incidentally, if you’re interested contributing anything to the programme, whether it’s about Benfield or the wider world of football, please act on your impulse. Either have a word or email your thoughts to iancusack@blueyonder.co.uk Finally, if you’d like to get more involved and are keen on helping the club, please think about joining the Supporters’ Club that Boyla, Jimmy Kidd and Keith Anderson are running; talk to them about the benefits of membership, in the bar or in our new supporters’ club shop, where they are selling a range of Benfield memorabilia.

Enjoy the game!!

ian cusack; Programme Editor

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@NcleBenfield @NcleBenfieldTV

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PAUL BRAYSON speaks to Benfield Media Officer Luke Vinton

How do you sum up your three years involved at Northwich Victoria? One of the best spells in your career?

I enjoyed three great seasons there. The manager at the time, Steve Burr, was great as well as the team and team spirit within the club. After winning the National League North and reaching the third round of the FA Cup with them, it was certainly one of the most enjoyable times in my career.

What is your favourite goal scored for Northwich?

Scoring the match winner against Woking was a personal favourite just for the fact we knew we would be playing Sunderland in the third round of the FA Cup. The run was a great experience for the players, staff and fans who are connected with the club.

Was it sad to see the club struggle financially and fall down the league ladders?

It was very sad to see them in trouble and slipping down the leagues because it was a great club with brilliant fans and people involved. They are wanting to get back up the league ladders and I hope they do because they are a fantastic club. I wish them all the best!

On a personal note, what would it mean to reach the FA Vase final with Benfield or even win the competition?

It would be great to get to the final and play at Wembley Stadium and winning the tournament would be the perfect outcome.

It’s already a key game but will playing against your former club make the tie more special for yourself?

It obviously makes the game that extra more special as it is against a former club where I have enjoyed playing football and have valuable memories during my time there. It was bitter sweet when I found out Benfield would be playing against them because in an ideal world, you’d prefer playing them in the final but that’s not to be. I am looking forward to seeing a few old faces and catching up with them.

NEWCASTLE BENFIELD F.C. HISTORY

The origins of the club can be traced back to 1988 when, as a result of the Northern Alliance expanding to three divisions, the club were granted admittance and competed as Brunswick Village in the Second Division for just one season. Changing the club’s name to Heaton

Corner House thereafter brought about a change in fortunes as the club transformed themselves from the previous season’s 10th place finish by storming to the Second Division championship in 1989/90. The club then moved to its current ground at Sam Smith’s Sports Ground off Benfield Road, and again changed its name; this time to Benfield Park. Following a couple of near misses in the race to gain promotion to the Premier Division, the club succeeded at the third time of asking before stunning the Premier Division big boys by claiming a League and Challenge Cup double at the first attempt at the end of the 1994/95 campaign.

That success wasn’t built upon and the club suffered a few seasons in the doldrums, before an approach by local rivals North Shields St. Columba’s gave the club additional momentum at the turn of the millennium. Having managed to persuade Allan Bell to take the manager’s job just weeks after he had led Walker Central to the Northern Alliance title, Benfield’s second Northern Alliance title was achieved in 2002/03 and this fine achievement was heightened by the club’s acceptance into the Northern League. Allan Bell left the club before the start of the Northern League adventure, but his replacement Keith Sheardown started brilliantly, leading the club to immediate promotion into the First Division after a final day 9-0 demolition of Willington, but Nissan’s victory over main rivals Ashington was erased from the record books as they had fielded an ineligible player. Ashington won the replayed fixture and took the title, leaving Benfield to settle for second place.

Expectations were for a season of consolidation in the club’s first campaign in the Northern League Division One, but no-one seemed to have told the players as they led the table for the first six months of the season before falling away and finishing a magnificent fourth. Benfield have since then enjoyed a successful and unbroken tenure in the First Division.

Former Hartlepool United striker Paul Baker replaced Sheardown in September 2005 and was still at the helm when the club lifted their first Northern League honour, the League Cup, in May 2007, having beaten Nissan 1-0 at Federation Park, Dunston, courtesy of a magnificent Alu Bangura goal. Baker enjoyed success in FA competitions, leading the club to their then best performance in the FA Vase in 2006 and a year later reaching the Fourth Qualifying Round of the FA Cup, narrowly losing 1-0 to York City in front of 927 fans, a ground record.

Undoubtedly, the club’s finest season came in 2008/09 when, under Tom Wade, the club enjoyed an incredible run of form in the second half of the season to shoot up the league from a mid-table position to win the title on the final day of the season, thanks to an 88th minute winner by Stephen Young in the final game to be played at Penrith’s Southend Road ground. Newcastle Benfield had never been top of the table at any point during the whole season, until Young’s winning strike. That success was doubled when victory in the League Cup, ironically also against Penrith, was assured by a breath-taking Ian Graham goal, though all those who were present would agree that keeper Andrew Grainger’s performance was

perhaps the finest individual display by a Benfield player during the club’s time in the Northern League.

Wade left before the start of the following season, with Baker returning and winning the Cleator Cup, the Northern League’s equivalent of the Charity Shield, in his first game back in charge. The club were unable to repeat their Championship winning form and had to settle for fifth place, which was followed by fourth place in 2010/11. The highlight of that latter season was a third League Cup victory for the club, over Spennymoor United at Dunston, where that man Andrew Grainger was once more the star of the show, saving a penalty and making several world-class saves as 10-man Benfield prevailed 3-1 after extra time.

Paul Baker resigned for the second time in September 2011, to be replaced by former player, captain and assistant manager Alu Bangura. Sadly, the club legend’s time in the hot seat was a short one and he left six months later, to be replaced by Perry Briggs as the club limped to a disappointing finish in the league. Briggs himself departed the club in the late autumn of 2012, to be replaced by former North Shields manager Anthony Woodhouse. Despite an encouraging 3-0 victory away to Sunderland RCA in Woodhouse’s first game in charge, results did not improve noticeably, and he quit the job, citing work pressures, in early 2013. For the second season running, Benfield had the distinction of three managers in a season, this time seeing former Bedlington Terriers player Steve Bowey assuming the top job but combining it with a playing role. The end of the 2012/13 season saw Benfield avoid relegation by a narrow margin, having won away in the last league game played at Consett’s venerable Belle Vue ground. This was even more impressive as the fixture was played twice, as the lights failed with less than 15 minutes remaining in the first game, when a Benfield victory would have assured safety. The club made their fourth appearance in the League Cup final, ironically in the last ever game to be played at Belle Vue, but came up short against Spennymoor United, despite a battling performance.

For 2013/14, Bowey’s side put in some impressive league performances, including a superb 7-0 victory away to Bedlington Terriers, but ultimately ended up finishing in 14th place. The real focus for the season was the FA Vase, where a series of excellent results, including victory away to eventual Northern League Champions Spennymoor United at their Brewery Field ground, put the club into the quarter finals of this national competition for the first time. Sadly, this is where the story ended with a 1-0 defeat to Leicestershire side St. Andrew’s ending the dream of a Wembley appearance.

Tragically, club founder Danny Gates passed away in November 2013. No-one who has ever attended a Benfield game will ever underestimate the contribution of Danny to the history and development of the club. He will never be forgotten.

At the end of the season manager Steve Bowey tendered his resignation and was replaced by Neil Saxton, who in turn left in October to be replaced by the returning Bowey, with the club languishing near the foot of the table. Despite disappointingly early exits in all cup

competitions, including a demoralising 2-1 loss away to Chadderton in the FA Vase, Bowey’s return galvanised the club’s league form. The last 14 games saw Benfield win 11 and draw 1 to top the form table, finishing 10th in the real version. This was helped by Northern League Player of the Season Paul Brayson weighing in with 49 goals in all competitions.

With a settled squad, including some quality additions, the signs were hopeful for 2015/2016 at Sam Smith’s Park. However, after a difficult run of results, Bowey tendered his resignation at the end of October. The club acted to appoint Mark Convery and Paul Brayson as joint player managers in November 2015. After safety was assured, with a paper-thin squad, the club opted for stability by retaining them as managers for the 2016/2017 season, which saw some encouraging performances in the league, with a 10th place finish in Division 1 securing the club’s status as Newcastle’s leading non-league side.

Season 2017/2018 again saw noticeable improvement. Despite some poor home results, 7th place in the Northern League was assured, with Stockton Town denying The Lions 6th spot on goals scored; 91 to 90 in point of fact. Unsurprisingly, Paul Brayson was responsible for many of those; he contributed a total of 49 and scored over 40 goals for the sixth successive season. As well as improved league form, Benfield showed good form in the cups. Locally, a run to the Northern League Cup semi-final was ended with a disappointing penalty shootout loss at Bishop Auckland. In the Northumberland Senior Cup, Newcastle United Under 23s proved too strong at the semi-final stage. Nationally, a good run in the FA Cup that saw West Allotment Celtic, Goole, Whitley Bay and Ashton United defeated, was ended by a narrow 1-0 loss to former Football League outfit Kidderminster Harriers, only 2 games from the first round proper. The real heartbreak of the season was a defeat on penalties away to Coleshill Town in a last 16 replay, having already seen off Hebburn Town, Pickering Town, Bedlington Terriers and North Shields to reach that stage. However, the signs are positive following such a good season and the whole club is determined to kick on during 2018/2019. Sadly, following a slow start, manager Mark Convery and his assistant Craig “Bruiser” Heward left the club at the start of October, with Tom Wade returning as manager after an absence of 9 years.

Newcastle Benfield 2018/2019 Fixtures and Results

August 4th, 2018: Sunderland RCA 0 Newcastle Benfield 1 (Brayson)

August 8th, 2018: Newcastle Benfield 0 Dunston UTS 0

August 11th, 2018: Newcastle Benfield 1 (Brayson) Stockton Town 1 (FA Cup)

August 15th, 2018: Stockton Town 0 Newcastle Benfield 3 (Pearson, Orrell, Brayson) (FA Cup Replay)

August 18th, 2018: Shildon 3 Newcastle Benfield 2 (Pearson 2)

August 21st, 2018: West Auckland Town 1 Newcastle Benfield 0

August 25th, 2018: Newcastle Benfield 1 (Pearson) West Auckland 0 (FA Cup)

September 1st, 2018: Newcastle Benfield 0 Stockton Town 2

September 5th, 2018: Newcastle Benfield 1 (Scott) Whitley Bay 6

September 8th, 2018: Newcastle Benfield 1 (Pearson) Workington 1 (FA Cup)

September 11th, 2018: Workington 5 Newcastle Benfield 3 (Pearson, Robson, Turnbull) (FA Cup Replay)

September 15th, 2018: Newcastle Benfield 1 (Scott) Sunderland RCA 3

September 26th, 2018: Newcastle Benfield 2 (Brayson, Orrell) Bishop Auckland 1 September 29th, 2018: Newcastle Benfield 1 (Brayson) Ashington 1

October 2nd,2018: Hebburn Town 2 Newcastle Benfield 1 (Knight)

October 6th, 2018: Newcastle Benfield 3 (Knight, Robson, Brayson) Newton Aycliffe 0 October 13th, 2018: Whitley Bay 3 Newcastle Benfield 3 (Orrell, Brayson, Turnbull)

October 20th, 2018: Newcastle Benfield 4 (McCarthy 3, Knight) Penrith 1

October 26th, 2018: Whickham 3 Newcastle Benfield 3 (Brayson, Orrell, Pearson)

October 31st, 2018: Newcastle Benfield 2 (McCarthy 2) Birtley Town 0 (League Cup) November 3rd2018: Newcastle Benfield 2 (Brayson, McCarthy) 1874 Northwich (FA Vase) 0 November 10th, 2018: Ryhope CW 2 Newcastle Benfield 3 (Knight 2, Orrell)

November 17th, 2018: Newton Aycliffe 1 Newcastle Benfield 2 (Brayson 2)

November 24th, 2018: Newcastle Benfield 3 (Knight 2, Turnbull) Seaham Red Star 1 December 1st, 2018: Newcastle Benfield 5 (Pearson 2, Knight, Brayson, Slaughter) Runcorn Town 4 (FA Vase)

December 8th, 2018: Newcastle Benfield 2 (Orrell, Brayson) West Auckland Town 0 December 13th, 2018: West Allotment Celtic 1 Newcastle Benfield 3 (Pearson, McCarthy, Brayson) (League Cup)

December 22nd, 2018: Dunston UTS 1 Newcastle Benfield 1 (Brayson)

December 29th, 2018: Guisborough Town 1 Newcastle Benfield 2 (Holmes, Brayson)

January 5th, 2019: Newcastle Benfield v Northwich Victoria (FA Vase)

January 12th, 2019: Newcastle Benfield v Shildon

January 19th, 2019: Bishop Auckland v Newcastle Benfield

January 23rd, 2019: Newcastle Benfield v North Shields (NFA Senior Cup)

January 26th, 2019: Newcastle Benfield v Hebburn Town

February 2nd, 2019: Consett v Newcastle Benfield

February 9th, 2019: Newcastle Benfield v North Shields

February 16th, 2019: Ashington CFC v Newcastle Benfield

February 23rd, 2019: North Shields v Newcastle Benfield

March 2nd, 2019: Newcastle Benfield v Guisborough Town

March 9th, 2019: Penrith v Newcastle Benfield

March 16th, 2019: Newcastle Benfield v Whickham

March 23rd, 2019: Stockton Town v Newcastle Benfield

March 30th, 2019: Newcastle Benfield v Ryhope CW

April 6th, 2019: Newcastle Benfield v Consett

April 13th, 2019: Seaham Red Star v Newcastle Benfield

FA Vase dates: 05/01, 02/02, 23/02, 16/03, 23/03, 19/05

NEWCASTLE BENFIELD 2 WEST AUCKLAND TOWN 0

Newcastle Benfield extended their unbeaten run to 11 and their winning sequence to 7 games with a routine 2-0 win over a strangely subdued and ineffectual West Auckland Town who, for all their big names and even bigger reputations, found themselves unable to get out of first gear all game. Boss Tom Wade made a couple of changes to the team; with Dean Holmes unavailable, Scott McCarthy was restored to the first XI, while Reece Noble came in for his debut at the expense of Dennis Knight, who’d left the field the week previous towards the end of the tumultuous 5-4 win over Runcorn Town in the FA Vase with a case of concussion. A soaking week had been counteracted by a howling gale on Saturday morning, which died off in time for kick off, leaving the pitch looking immaculate as usual.

In the second minute, Paul Brayson had an effort blocked, with the loose ball travelling to Ritchie Slaughter in a similar position from where he scored the outrageous winner seven days earlier. There was to be no repeat sadly, as the midfielder launched his shot high and wide. Soon though, Benfield took the lead. Good play by Scott McCarthy on the right led to him backheeling the ball into the path of Rhys Evans, whose pinpoint cross was deftly finished at the near post by Jake Orrell. Instead of the visitors responding, Benfield almost made it 2-0 on 18 minutes when James Martin scampered down the left, put in a great cross and Paul Brayson hit his attempt at a defender. West Auckland produced their first effort on goal after 26 minutes; Arjan Purewal made ground on the right and his centre was half cleared to Mitchell, who stung the palms of Andy Grainger; the Benfield keeper claimed the ball after parrying the initial effort. Dale Pearson almost scored an outrageous bicycle kick, but his stylish effort from a Ritchie Slaughter header into the box landed on the roof of the net. Finally, in first half stoppage time, another audacious McCarthy backheel set Brayson free, but his left foot shot was straight at keeper Shane Bland.

The initial stages of the second period hinted at a West Auckland revival, but their possession and determined tackling produced little tangible reward. Indeed, on 54 minutes, it was inches from being 2-0, after Mark Turnbull’s bullet header from a Brayson corner was kicked off the line. Moments later, Orrell set up Pearson for a flashing drive that Bland pushed away at full stretch. Sadly, Bland’s next contribution was less praiseworthy. He mishit a goal kick straight to Brayson about 30 yards from goal. The veteran marksman gathered the ball, drew Bland out of position and comfortably stroked the ball home, to double the home side’s advantage. It was almost 3-0 when Brayson’s venomous effort from a tight angle was fisted clear by Bland. West Auckland almost claimed a late consolation, but Andy Grainger displayed lightning reactions to block substitute Wearmouth’s point blank header and thus preserve a clean sheet. ian cusack

Man of the Match: Reece Noble

WEST ALLOTMENT CELTIC 1 NEWCASTLE BENFIELD 3

Newcastle Benfield advanced into the quarter-finals of the Brooks Mileson Northern League Cup following a comfortable 3-1 away win at West Allotment Celtic. Benfield took a two- goal lead inside the first 20 minutes, with Dale Pearson opening the scoring before Scott McCarthy fired home to double the Lions’ advantage. Despite the lack of clear-cut chances for Allotment, the Division Two side halved the deficit through Gilberto Chapim’s second half strike before Paul Brayson sealed Benfield the win two minutes from time with a clinical penalty.

Going into the cup tie, Benfield were hoping to extend their unbeaten run to 12 matches under Tom Wade, who has yet to lose a game as manager, as well as achieving their eighth consecutive victory in all competitions. The Lions got off to a strong start, with Mackenzie Heaney’s long-range effort rattling the crossbar from 25 yards out in the early stages of the game. Benfield were not to be denied though and, after 13 minutes, Pearson gave Benfield the lead. After gliding past an Allotment player Pearson fired an effort from the edge of the box, which flew beyond goalkeeper Finlay Hodgson into the bottom right corner. Six minutes later, Benfield’s McCarthy got his name on the scoresheet. After winning the ball back from their opponents, Heaney played a ball towards Brayson, before the veteran striker sent a delightful pass into the path of McCarthy, who only needed one touch before drilling the ball into the net. The difference in divisions took its toll as West Allotment, who continued to battle hard and attempted to make it difficult for their Division One opponents, struggled to force Dan Nimmins into making a serious save.

However, in the second half, Allotment were rewarded for their efforts as midfielder Gilberto Chapim pulled a goal back, riding his luck by avoiding a tackle from a group of Benfield defenders before poking the ball into the bottom left corner to give Allotment hope. Benfield cancelled out the home side’s chances of forcing the game into a penalty shoot-out as the Lions were awarded a penalty in the dying minutes. As Brayson’s strike was blocked, the ball landed into the feet of Jake Orrell and, although his attempt sailed over the bar, the 21-year-old was bundled over by Tony Lucas in the process. The penalty was dispatched expertly by Brayson, slamming his spot kick into the roof of the net to grab his 14th goal of the campaign and complete a professional win for Newcastle Benfield to keep their chances of lifting silverware this season alive. Luke Vinton

Man of the Match: Mackenzie Heaney

DUNSTON UTS 1 NEWCASTLE BENFIELD 1

Before the game, manager Tom Wade was forced into a defensive reshuffle. With skipper Mark Turnbull only fit enough for the bench, Ritchie Slaughter donned the armband and Alex Nisbet took Sparky’s place at the centre of defence. In addition, McKenzie Heaney was given his first league start on a heavy pitch that had seen the previous 2 fixtures postponed, first because of frost and secondly because of prolonged rainfall. On a mild afternoon, Benfield were soon on the attack against the unbeaten league leaders, who had escaped from Sam Smith’s Park with an undeserved point in an early season stalemate, when

Benfield simply couldn’t score for toffee. It seemed the same curse was afflicting The Lions in their first attack; McKenzie Heaney saw his effort hacked off the line and two follow-up, goal-bound efforts by Paul Brayson blocked by desperate defending. Then, in the next passage of play, came the incident that cast an ominous shadow over the whole affair.

Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated Northern League Division 1 game so far this season was marred, if not ruined, by a sickening injury sustained by Benfield’s Joe Robson in the 4th minute. The popular and reliable centre half suffered a triple fracture of the eye socket, cheekbone and jaw after an aerial challenge with Dunston’s Michael Pearson. The UTS player clearly did not intentionally mean to injure Robson, but to lead with his elbow was a reckless act that has ended the Benfield player’s season. Every single one of us associated with The Lions wish Joe the speediest recovery possible. After a prolonged delay, Joe was stretchered off and James Novak came on to replace him.

Clearly the injury had deeply affected the Benfield side and Reece Noble was booked for a brutal lunge on Jordan Nellis soon after. However, better fortunes occurred after 20 minutes when handball in the area saw the visitors awarded a penalty. With regular taker Dennis Knight on the bench, Brayson took the responsibility. While Karl Dryden dived low to his left to keep the ball out, he was powerless to prevent Brayson knocking home the rebound. It was to be a brief period of ascendancy however, as a soft free kick on the touchline on 25 minutes was beautifully delivered by Liam Marrs, allowing Scott Heslop to power home a textbook header into the roof of the net. Somewhat improbably, this was to be the end of the goals for the day, but not for the want of trying, especially by Benfield. On the half hour, Dale Pearson was scythed down at the edge of the area and Brayson’s free kick was tipped wide by Dryden at full stretch as Benfield began to show mastery and control from front to back. The home side were dangerous from corners and crosses into the box, with Nellis a permanent threat up top.

After the break, Benfield ought to have taken the lead on 50 minutes; a superb Rhys Evans pass set Jake Orrell away and the young striker was impressively denied by Dryden, who spread himself well at his near post to block a powerful effort. This was an atypical Benfield attack, as we tended to play patient, possession football that pushed the increasingly ragged hosts back. Dunston’s main threat was pace on the break and, in a desperate act of defence, Nisbet received a caution for unambiguously checking Heslop’s progress down the wing. Surprisingly, Dunston’s best chance came from a corner when, with the goal gaping, Andrew Grant-Soulsby shot high over the bar. Twice subsequently, Benfield almost the win they so clearly deserved. Dale Pearson was denied by an unbelievable block as he seemed ready to turn the loose ball home and then Dryden came to his side’s rescue with another brave stop. Pearson was clearly identified as the dangerman by Dunston and Jake Stafford was shown a straight red card for the crude and deliberate scything down of the powerful attacker as he broke through the centre late in the game. Sadly, all attacking momentum was lost and Dunston hung on, though they will know that they have been mightily lucky in both games against Benfield in 2018/2019.

Man of the Match: Dale Pearson

GUISBOROUGH TOWN 1 NEWCASTLE BENFIELD 2

Newcastle Benfield extended their unbeaten run to 14 games with a hard working but thoroughly merited away win on a glorious Winter afternoon in North Yorkshire. Guisborough Town’s scenic and well-appointed King George V ground used to be a venue of endless misery for The Lions, but with the monkey off our back in a scintillating 4-0 last year, the belief that oozes through the squad was in evidence again as we shrugged off the disappointment of still being a goal down on the hour, to turn things around and win with something to spare. With Joe Robson ruled out for the rest of the season, Richard Pell came in for his debut and the imposing stopper acquitted himself well. New signing Joe Shepherd, who has arrived from Blyth Spartans, took his place on the bench in a squad depleted by Festive commitments elsewhere. Benfield started the game strongly, with James Martin’s swinging cross causing pandemonium in the home defence after 3 minutes. Guisborough’s captain was their keeper Jordan Nixon and he was by a distance their best player. He first distinguished himself brilliantly tipping over a deft Brayson chip on 12 minutes. Less than 2 minutes later, Nixon went full length to touch Dale Pearson’s low effort round the post. The value of those superb saves was underlined on 20 minutes when, somewhat against the run of play, Mason McNeill lashed a loose ball into the roof of the net to put the home side ahead. Benfield sought to respond immediately, and Paul Brayson was denied by a brilliant saving tackle by the impressive Anthony Snook. Dale Pearson flashed a shot inches wide, before Nixon’s third important save denied Alex Nisbet, who powered in a diving header, meaning the Priorymen went in to the break with a single goal lead.

One factor that has distinguished Benfield’s play since Tom Wade’s return to the hot seat, has been a refusal to lie down. Hence it was no surprise that the second half resembled a siege on the Guisborough goal. The brave home side kept The Lions out until just before the hour when Dean Holmes stooped to head home Jake Orrell’s peach of a cross, for his first goal in Benfield colours. Soon after Paul Brayson appeared to be cleaned out in the area, though nothing was given. However, the veteran marksman had the last laugh, collecting an Andy Grainger goal kick and steering it effortlessly past the stranded Nixon. It was goal made beautiful by its simplicity. Moments later, Brayson elected to shoot when Pearson was unmarked to his left and the chance was gone. Finally, Nixon kept his best until last, acrobatically flying to his right and palming Orrell’s piledriver over the bar. Nixon went up in a late sortie, but there was to be no fairy-tale ending as Benfield comfortably kept Guisborough at bay for a well-deserved 3 points.

Man of the Match: Dean Holmes

Newcastle Benfield 2018/2019 Squad Profiles

Name & Position:

Information:

Sponsored By:

Sol Bell; Utility

Signed from Alnwick Town; young prospect who made his debut towards the ends of the 2017/2018 season.

Simon Honeywood

https://www.readysalte d.co.uk

Paul Brayson; Striker

Previous clubs include: Newcastle United, Swansea City, Reading, Cardiff City, Cheltenham Town, York City, Northwich Victoria, Gateshead and Blyth Spartans. Legendary striker, who needs no introduction. 2014/2015 & 2017/2018 Northern League Player of the Season. Scored a minimum of 40 goals in each of his 4 seasons with Benfield.

Jimmy Kidd

Rhys Evans: Defence / Midfield

Signed after starring against us for Washington at the end of October 2017, Rhys held down the right back slot for the rest of the season; without doubt Rhys was the outstanding signing of the year. His ability, consistency and reliability pay testament to a sensible old head on young shoulders, meaning he is universally popular with players, committee and fans. Hopefully Rhys will be at Benfield for many seasons to come and win the trophies his ability and attitude so richly deserve.

Andy Ferguson

Andrew Grainger: Keeper

Long serving goalkeeper, Andrew joined the club following spells with Darlington, against whom he had a testimonial in July 2014 and Barry Town. Regarded throughout the League by team-mates and opponents as one of the best goalkeepers in the Northern League, Andrew is also the international goalkeeper for England at Beach football. Winner of the League’s Safe Hands trophy in 2009. Former wicketkeeper with Tynemouth CC.

Trevor Atkinson

Mackenzie Heaney; Midfield

A superb signing from Newcastle United. Marauding attacking threat with a wand of a left foot.

Keith Armstrong

Dean Holmes; Striker

Potentially the signing of the summer. Immensely talented FA Vase winner who has arrived from North Shields to ramp up the Lions’ already potent goal threat.

Kevin Larkham

Dennis Knight; Striker

Another excellent signing. Powerful, combative and dangerous; made his reputation at Newcastle United and Barnsley. Signed from Jarrow Roofing, having also appeared with Newton Aycliffe and West Auckland.

Gary Thompson

Jordan Laidler; Midfield

Close season signing from Blyth Spartans, having spent time on loan here last year. Formerly with Sunderland.

David Laidler

James Martin; Left Back

Cultured and pacey defender. A product of Middlesbrough’s academy who also spent time at Queen of the South and Hartlepool, where he played in the Football League. He joined Benfield from Dunston UTS in March 2018.

Chris Lindtstedt

Scott McCarthy; Striker

Pacey striker, formerly with Middlesbrough and Bishop Auckland. Scorer of spectacular goals.

Alix Shepherd

Dylan McEvoy; Midfield

Talented left-footed playmaker. Previously with Sunderland and Boston United. Superb passer of the ball with a spark of creative ingenuity in everything he does.

Jamie Boswell

Dan Nimmins; Keeper

Outstanding prospect. Signed from Percy Main after playing in America. Reliable deputy to Andrew Grainger. Keen to learn and willing to work hard.

Safeguard Security

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Alex Nisbet; Defence / Midfield

Authoritative presence at the back; an enforcer in the middle. Signed from Ponteland, he was 2017/2018’s Player of the Year in his debut season.

Keith Armstrong

Reece Noble; Midfield

Attacking midfielder who can also play up top. Signed from Sunderland RCA.

James Novak; Left Back

Quality left back. Another to come from Morpeth Town. Outstanding in the first half of 2017/2018 until struck down by a debilitating back injury. Came back into the frame in late October 2018.

John McNally

Jake Orrell; Striker

Lightning fast predator; arrived from Spennymoor. Previously with Gateshead and Hartlepool.

Mark Hedley

Dale Pearson; Striker

Lethal finisher who made his name with 76 goals in a season for Hazelrigg Victory. Signed from Blyth, having also appeared for West Allotment, Dunston UTS and Morpeth Town.

Syd Allison

Richard Pell; Centre Half

Experienced and imposing stopper. Arrived from North Shields.

Joe Robson; Centre Half

Young defender. A highly rated prospect, who arrived from North Shields in close season.

Dave Robson

Lewis Scorgie; Centre Half

Has played for North Shields, Hartlepool, Wallsend and Whitley Bay. Superb on the ball and very committed. On his way to becoming a club legend.

Marc Dummett

Josh Scott; Winger

Physical, combative wide player with a heart the size of the moon. Never gives up. An all action, quiet hero.

Nathan March

Joe Shepherd; Centre Half

Young defender (born 2001!!!), recently arrived from Blyth Spartans on dual registration.

Luke Vinton

Mark Turnbull; Right Back /Centre Half

Local lad who joined the club from local football and is embarking on his tenth season at the club. Has impressed with his commitment and his solid displays at right back, which led him to be named Young Player of the Year in 2011. Club captain. Deputised for Matty Grieve for most of last season in the centre of defence and never put a foot wrong.

Paul Brayson

Rhys Evans

Andrew Grainger

Mackenzie Heaney

Dean Holmes

Dennis Knight

Jordan Laidler

James Martin

Scott McCarthy

Dylan McEvoy

Dan Nimmins

Alex Nisbet

Reece Noble

James Novak

Jake Orrell

Dale Pearson

Richard Pell

Joe Robson

Josh Scott

Lewis Scorgie

Richie Slaughter

Mark Turnbull

Manager: Tom Wade Coach: Ross McKay Physio: Kieran Stimpson Trainer: Derek Gair

Kit Man: Bailey O’Brien

…Northwich Victoria from

Daniel Taberner Joseph Camozzi Kirtis Monson Dominic Craig Andrew Fitzgerald Brandon Barski Harvey Whyte Bradley Cooke (C) Robert Doran Joel Brownhill Daryhll Mason Matthew Clark Brian Matthews Jordan Darr Kieron Kenny Jordan Boon Maxwell Broughton

Manager – Steve Wilkes Asst Manager – Steve Pickup GK coach – Rob Sadler Coach – Scott Campbell Physio – Peter Henderson

NORTHWICH VICTORIA: HISTORY

Northwich Victoria were formed in 1874 and named in honour of the reigning monarch, Queen Victoria. The following year the club established themselves at the Drill Field, so named, as it was the former Drilling Ground of the 22nd Company of the 3rd battalion of the Cheshire Rifle Volunteers. Vics initially played only friendly matches but graduated to a loose association of clubs called the Combination. A giant step forward was taken in 1892 when Northwich became founder members of the 2nd division of the Football League. Two seasons were spent in the League but the financial burden of professionalism saw the club resigning league status at the end of the second year. During Vics’ final season in the league, they acquired the services of the legendary Billy Meredith, the peerless Welsh wizard of the wing.

The club returned to the Combination until 1898 when it joined the newly formed Cheshire League where it stayed for two years. A spell in the Manchester league followed before the club became members of the Lancashire Combination in 1912/13. Organised football came to a halt at the outbreak of the Great War but when hostilities ceased, the Vics’ joined the newly formed Cheshire League. Although a top-ranking club, the title was captured just once in a memorable 1956/57 campaign.

Vics again became founder members of a new league when they accepted an invitation from the Northern Premier League in 1968, remaining there until they signalled their ambition by joining the new Nationwide Alliance Premier League in 1979. Before joining the national elite however, Vics’ name had been on the tips of the nation’s tongues following the remarkable FA Cup run in 1976/77. The team defeating three football league sides en route to the fourth round: Rochdale, Peterborough and Watford (the latter being watched by a crowd of 8,989 at the Drill Field including Sir Elton John), before finally bowing out to Oldham Athletic in a game seen by nearly 30,000 at Maine Road.

In 1982/83 the Club reached its finest hour when they won through to the final of the FA Trophy but lost 2-1 to Telford United at Wembley. The Vics’ faithful had only to wait twelve months before returning to the twin towers, where they drew 1-1 with Bangor City. To the delight of their fans the Greens won the replay 2-1 at Stoke’s aptly named Victoria Ground. After a short spell in the doldrums the 1990’s saw Vics begin to reassert themselves as a leading force in semi-professional football. Most notably, when defeating Martin O’Neill’s Wycombe Wanderers on their home turf in April 1993 to lift the Drinkwise Cup. In 1995/96 Vics continued their progress, recording a best finish of eighth in the league and another trip to Wembley in the FA Trophy, a fantastic achievement considering they were drawn away from home in each round. Alas, it was not a successful one as Cheshire rivals Macclesfield Town proved too strong on the day, winning 3-1.

Five years on, Vics sampled further FA Cup glory under the management of Keith Alexander. The club claimed their first league scalp for 17 years defeating Bury at the Drill Field in a first round replay, before turning a 2-0 deficit against Leyton Orient into a 3-2 lead before a late equaliser earned the Londoners a replay at Brisbane Road, a game which they in turn won 3- 2 after extra time having trailed the Vics’ 2-0, a thrilling match screened live on Sky TV. When Alexander was offered the post of Director of Coaching at Lincoln City in the summer of 2001, he was replaced for two seasons at Northwich by former Northern Ireland international Jimmy Quinn. After Quinn departed for Shrewsbury Town, Vics suffered three more managers before finishing bottom of the Conference in 2003/04, only to survive relegation on ground technicalities at other clubs.Following the sale of the famous Drill Field ground, Vics undertook ground sharing with neighbours Witton Albion which lasted a further 3 seasons.

In September 2004 the club went into administration and suffered a 10-point deduction. However, against all the odds current manager Steve Burr and his team produced some fantastic performances, eventually finishing outside the bottom three, culminating in the team being voted Club of the Year by the Non-League Paper. However due to a technicality in the club administration Vics suffered their first relegation since the foundation of the Conference and started the 2005/2006 season in the Conference Corth.

The club under the ownership of Mike Connett commenced the season at the newly built Victoria Stadium and their form matched their superb new facilities as they went fifteen games undefeated before emphasis shifted to a tremendous F.A Cup run. After victories against Frickley, North Ferriby, Barrow, Morecambe and Woking the run culminated in the Vics playing their first ever game against a premiership side, and a great day out against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in front of 19,323 fans, cheered on by over 3,500 Vics supporters, the team produced a battling display, finally losing the game 3-0. After slipping to third in the league during January and February the team embarked on a record breaking run of 15 consecutive victories and were eventually crowned champions after defeating closest rivals Stafford Rangers by a 3-1 scoreline on the penultimate Saturday of the season this time cheered on by a record 3,154 at the Victoria Stadium.

Vics didn’t find it easy going back into the Conference National and at times were too close to the bottom four for comfort. However, a superb run of fine victories at the end of March

when they defeated the likes of Oxford United, Dagenham and Redbridge, Kidderminster, Crawley Town and Tamworth saw them finish in a comfortable 13th place position in the league. They also had a successful FA Trophy run which saw them reach the semi-finals, before being defeated 4-3 on aggregate to Kidderminster Harriers. At the end of a long hard season the club was rocked by the sudden resignation of manager Steve Burr and his move to Stalybridge Celtic. Neil Redfearn took over the manager’s job at the start of the 2007/2008 season. But his reign only lasted until mid-October after only picking up one point from the first nine games of the season. Paul Warhurst stepped in for just two games before he too resigned. Dino Maamaria, one of the senior professionals at the club took over in a caretaker role until the position could be advertised, but he impressed the club officials and supporters so much that he was soon given the job on a full-time basis.

It took until 24th November 2008 for Vics’ to register their first league win of the campaign against Rushden and Diamonds. The second half of the season saw a massive improvement in results and against all odds they secured safety from relegation with a tremendous 2-1 victory at Stevenage Borough in the penultimate game of the season. Under the new ownership of Jim Rushe with the backing of the main sponsors Encia the club look forward to a bright future.

On 19 May 2009 the club went into administration for the second time in five years following their relegation from the Conference National; they were threatened with a double relegation to the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League as a result of this, but ultimately won an appeal to be placed into the Conference North for the 2009-10 season. On 24 October 2009, under the management of Andy Preece and Andy Morrison, Northwich played FC United of Manchester in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round. Northwich won the game 3–0. In the First-Round proper, Northwich were drawn against former Premier League side Charlton Athletic, which was televised live on ITV1, providing much needed revenue for the club. Northwich won the game 1–0. Northwich were then drawn against Lincoln City, a match which was again televised on ITV1. The game was played on 28 November, with Lincoln winning the game 3–1.The 2009–10 season saw Northwich achieve a mid-table finish, but due to the ongoing financial problems, the club were expelled from the league and placed in the Northern Premier Division.

During the season, Northwich won the Cheshire Senior Cup for the first time in 15 years, beating Woodley Sports on penalties. This was their first piece of silverware since they won the Conference North in 2006. They remain unbeaten in the competition under the management of Andy Preece and have reached the final for the 2010–11 season for the second successive year. By the start of the new season, only 3 players from the previous season remained in the squad. The reserve feeder team, Woodley F.C, became Northwich Villa – who play in Division One of the Cheshire Football League. Many of the squad for that season came through the new structure into the first team’s squad. The 2011 / 2012 campaign saw the team relegated from the Evo – Stik Premier League, even though the team finished 2nd. The season saw Andy Preece leave for Airbus UK, and two other managers in the hotseat namely Paul Simpson and Martin Foyle. Andy Mutch and Alan Wright took the helm for the following campaign which the team will contest in the Evo Stik Division One South. After an up and down beginning to the season Mutch resigned and was replaced by the then Kendal Town manager Lee Ashcroft with former Wigan Athletic legend Ian Kilford

appointed as his right-hand man. Lee guided the Trickies to a very respectable 8th place, narrowly missing out on the play-offs, while groundsharing with Stafford Rangers. 2013/2014 and 2014/15 saw Vics’ switch leagues to the Northern section of the Northern Premier League First Division, hosting games at Valley Road in Flixton. The 2014/15 season saw Vics finish in fourth spot in the Evo-Stik NPL Division One North table, losing 2-1 away to Bamber Bridge in the promotion play-off semi-final after extra time. A 16th Mid-Cheshire Senior Challenge Cup title was added to the honours list, defeating Witton Albion 4-0 in the final at the Help for Heroes Stadium in Northwich. The Club narrowly missed out on a 20th Cheshire F.A Senior Cup title, losing to Vanarama Conference Premier giants – and old foes Macclesfield Town by the odd goal in three; by 3-2. Vics’ had hauled themselves back into the game to draw level at 2-2; from a parlous position at 0-2 down early in the piece.

Season 2015/16 saw the Vics’ back in their home town of Northwich, having agreed a three- year groundshare with Evo-Stik Premier Division One North neighbours Witton Albion F.C. Despite the departure of manager Jim Gannon to his beloved Stockport County, a third- place finish was achieved in the Evo-Stik NPL DivIsion One North League campaign and the season ended with a heartbreaking promotion play-off final defeat 2-0 away to Spennymoor Town. The second round of the F.A Cup was incredibly reached and was cruelly (and most observers said undeservedly) ended at eventual runaway league two title winners, Northampton Town by 3-2 after establishing a 2-0 lead just past the hour mark. The run to the second round took in notable victories against higher-league opposition; away at National League Club, Boreham Wood in the first round and National League North Club, Chorley F.C, again away from home in the fourth qualifying round.

The 2016/17 season was a tough one for the Club and supporters of the Green and Whites. With off-field developments overshadowing the hard work of players and management, the new-look team struggled at the lower end of the table for much of the season. The resignation of manager Adam Lakeland was followed swiftly by the departure of his assistant and caretaker boss Dave Wild, meant new manager Paul Moore certainly had his work cut out from the start. Sadly, the writing was on the wall for Vics and despite some last-gasp heroics and potential lifelines at the end of the season, the announcement came that the Club was to enter administration yet again (along with the inevitable 10-point deduction) and relegation to Step 5 was confirmed.

June 2017 brought probably one of the most important developments in the history of this grand old institution, as an agreement was reached for the Northwich Victoria Supporters Association to take full control of the Club. This, coupled with a ground-share agreement with Barnton FC, ensured that the Club would remain in Northwich and gave fans a new sense of optimism.

2017/18 saw the Vics’ finish just below mid-table in the North West counties Premier Division after Paul Moore resigned in late September owing to work commitments. Ex- Padiham boss Steve Wilkes; a North West Counties Premier Division title-winner – took over alongside assistant Steve Pickup for the rest of the season – the duo signed a two-year contract. The Vics’ in season 2018/19 will groundshare with neighbours Witton Albion F.C.

The Beautiful Game;

a regular series of articles about different aspects of football and sport in general. This week, here’s an interview The Editor did with Football Focus magazine -:

1. How long have you been involved and what first attracted you to the club?

Speaking personally, I first became a supporter of Benfield in September 2003, which was the start of the club’s first season in the Northern League. Back then I was still a Newcastle United season ticket holder, but because of some game or other being moved for Sky, I had a spare Saturday, so I took a wander down to my nearest Northern League side and saw a thumping 4-1 win over Thornaby in the FA Vase. The game was great; the welcome warm and genuine, so a bond was formed. After about a decade as a fan, I then stepped up to become programme editor. I’ve not regretted it for one second.

2. What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your role?

I regard being involved with a club that I love with every fibre of my being as an absolute honour. I am proud beyond words to have this role and would love to do it for as long as I’m needed. Everything to do with editing the programme brings me rewards; even the challenges involving deadlines, such as 6 home games in 21 days at the end of 2017/2018, are positive experiences.

3. How’s the general mood down at the club at the moment?

At the time of writing, we’ve gone 11 games unbeaten and have won our last 7 in a row, so the atmosphere is pretty positive round Sam Smith’s Park. We have a superb squad of lads, blending experience, youth, craft, guile and skill. The manager, Tom Wade, is an experienced and astute tactician who shows every indication of taking the club not just forward, but onwards and upwards.

4. How would you say the season has gone so far for the club?

Expectations were high at the start of the season, as we’d signed a raft of excellent players to complement the vast majority of last season’s squad. Sadly, things didn’t gel, for whatever reason. We simply couldn’t score enough goals and suffered several narrow defeats. Previous boss Mark Convery and his assistant Craig Heward, who’d done a great job for 3 years, simply felt they couldn’t take the club and further and left in early October. Since then, Tom has come in with his assistant Ross McKay and our fortunes have turned around. Of course, we’re deeply grateful to Mark and were sad to see him go.

5. What are your plans for the rest of the campaign?

Currently, we’re 7th in the league, have made it to the last 32 of the FA Vase with a home tie against Northwich Victoria to come, as well as still being in the Northern League Cup and Northumberland Senior Cup. After the slow start we had, we couldn’t wish to be in a better position with 2019 on the horizon. I think it is fair to say, everyone at the club would love a cup final and, hopefully, some silverware at the end of it.

6. How important is youth football to the club?

It is essential. Benfield have a proud reputation for junior football sides, both boys and girls from U8s upwards. We try to involve the youngsters from the earliest levels, by making them matchday mascots, encouraging parents and families as a whole to attend our games. Also, we host all social events and training on the pitches adjacent to our ground, utilising the clubhouse and related facilities as a hub for everyone under the Benfield umbrella to feel at home in.

7. How do you ensure that young players enjoy a smooth transition into the senior game?

This season we are running a reserve side in the Tyneside Amateur League. Obviously, the football is a good few levels than the first team operate at, but it gives a sense of the kind of organic progression we are looking for, by providing a potential pathway from mini soccer for 7-year olds, through to the first team. It is both a challenge for and an ambition of the club going forwards.

8. Would you consider yours to be a community club?

A very interesting question, which depends on your definition of “community.” If we are talking about a geographical location, then emphatically not, as Benfield is a road with a large school on one side and a hospital on the other, with a light industrial estate behind it. Of course, that is a simplistic definition as we are most definitely the go to club for everyone in the east end of Newcastle, drawing support from Heaton, Byker, Walker, Wallsend and even the Coast. We’ve got volunteers from 18 to 80, in the shape of our young kit man Bailey O’Brien and our legendary trainer Derek Gair, who has devoted more than 60 years of his life to football in this area. Recently, we’ve totally refurbished our club house and revamped our catering facilities. The bar is open most nights and gets pleasantly full on a Friday night. We offer superb Sunday lunches, which we’ll even deliver if you so ask. Indeed, we are delighted to be able to host a free Christmas lunch for the elderly, staffed entirely by club volunteers, including delivery drivers for those old folks who can’t easily get about. Incidentally, if all this talk of food and drink is making you feel a little stuffed, there is our fantastically well-appointed, competitively priced gym on site; take it from me, they can sort out even the most slothful of us.

9. What do you believe could be some of the biggest challenges the club may face in the coming years?

Last season, our groundsman Stan Thompson, who performs miracles with our pitch, would have said Mother Nature as the elements played havoc with the pitch and fixture list. Obviously, we have to take the endless search for new supporters and generous sponsors as a given task, not to mention the desire to find the best players possible to wear the blue and white of Benfield. However, the real elephant in the room is the FA enforced restructuring of football at our level and the one above, which will come into effect at the end of the

2019/2020 season. Despite the proximity of the date, details are sketchy, but it seems up to a dozen clubs from the Northern League may well be forcibly promoted a level, into a league that would stretch as far south as Doncaster. If this involves Benfield, and there is every indication it will, then the whole ethos of the grassroots game in this region will be affected, not just us.

10. What are the club’s ambitions for the next 5 years?

Notwithstanding the intangible elements bound up in my previous answer, I think everyone at Benfield would say the same thing; to cement our place as the number one non-league club in Newcastle, playing the best kind of football at the highest levels possible, for all ages. In short, we want the whole community north of the Tyne to be as proud of Benfield as possible.

Unit 11, Elswick Road, Armstrong Industrial Estate, Washington, NE 37 1LH

Tel: 0191-4169955

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