Sunday, 28 October 2018

North Shields - Darren Persson Stadium

North Shields FC
Darren Persson Stadium
West Percy Street
North Shields
NE29 0LH

Ground Number: 810
Saturday 27th October 2018
North Shields 1-2 West Auckland Town
Northern League D1


The club was established in 1896 and were originally known as North Shields Athletic - a name they used from 1896 - 1915 and then again from 1995 - 1999. They were also called Preston Colliery between 1919 -1928 following the end of the first world war. Early years were spent in the  South Shields & District League and the Northern Combination. In 1908 they'd join the North Eastern League winning it in 1950 and remaining here until 1964 aside from a few seasons away in the Midland and Northern Counties League. Joining the Northern League in 1964, North Shields would finish 3rd in their debut season and runners-up the year after. By 1969 they were champions and they would remain here until 1989 when they joined the Northern Counties East Premier as the Northern League was not part of the non-league pyramid at the time. Three seasons were spent here, all successful and in 1992 they were champions following two runners-up spots. However, their joy was short lived as debts of £98,000 led to them losing their ground and nearly going bust altogether. They did manage to stay afloat but had to take a significant drop, restarting in the Wearside League Division 2 whilst groundsharing for a short period at the likes of Whitley Bay. On the field, they were runners-up in their first season, earning promotion to Division 1. The league was condensed into a single Division in the late 1990s and North Shields were champions in 1999, 2002 and 2004. The latter of these saw them make the step back up to the Northern League Division 2. Though they struggled initially, they were champions in 2014, earning promotion to Division 1. They've been there ever since and have generally fared well, finishing 3rd in 2017. Prior to today's game, they were sat in 7th place in the league.

In the FA Cup, North Shields have reached the 2nd Round on a few occasions. The most recent was in 1982 when they beat Eppleton CW, Horden CW, Gateshead, Barrow & Halifax Town (then a football league club) before a 3-0 defeat to Walsall. In 1969 the club won the FA Amateur Cup, beating Sutton United 2-1 at Wembley Stadium. They also won its replacement, the FA Vase in 2015, beating Glossop North End 2-1. The FA Trophy 2nd Round was reached in 1983-84 where they lost 4-1 at Barnet. Local honours include the Northumberland Senior Cup 13 times, the NCEL League Cup in 1992 and the Northern League Cup twice. The area of North Sheilds has a population of just under 35,000 and was the filming location for the TV series 'When The Boat Comes In which starred James Bolam, most well known for playing Terry Collier in 'Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads'. Famous people born in the area include actor Stan Laurel, footballer Michael Bridges and lifeboat inventor William Wouldhave who has the Wetherspoons in North Shields named in his honour. President of North Shields FC is Malcolm MacDonald, ace goalscorer for Newcastle United for England but remembered by me for his appearance on Fantasy Football League's 'Phoenix From The Flames' series in the mid-1990s.


After deciding that my morning game would be at Ryhope Colliery Welfare, I needed an afternoon game to go to. There were twelve options in all, all in varying directions and distances. I had no idea which to choose so after whittling it down to four options I put a poll out on Twitter. Horden Colliery Welfare, Whitley Bay, North Shields and Billingham Synthonia were the options, chosen as they were within walking distance of a town and a decent pub for pre-match. After an overnight poll on Wednesday, North Shields came out on top and so I set about doing my pre-match research for my blog.

From the game at Ryhope, I had a 20-mile drive to North Shields, arriving at 1.15. I parked up at the ground and walked 15 minutes into town to a great Micropub called Oddfellows where I had a pint of Gwynt Y Ddraig Pyder which was very nice. I then headed to a place called Pizza Cafe where I had a 12 inch Mexicana Pizza for £3.50. I got to the ground around 2.30, paying £6 entry plus £1.50 for a programme. The first incident saw West Auckland's Danny Parker carried off with a nasty looking dislocated knee. The 201 fans present saw a cagey first half with the visitors edging the game. Amar Purewal gave them the lead on 52 minutes with a low diagonal shot from just inside the area. The former Blyth Spartans man got his second 15 minutes later with a shot on the turn from 10 yards. After 77 minutes North Shields reduced the arrears when Gary Day netted from inside the six-yard box. It had been a fairly average game, but I was surprised to see that Purewal was playing at this level as he looked useful when I saw him playing for Blyth a few years back.

That was it for goals and West Auckland deserved their win. I headed for home after a decent couple of days away. The journey home was decent and went quickly thanks to listening to football phone-ins all the way home. Wycombe had disappointingly lost 3-2 at Walsall but there was perspective with a trio of bad news in football. Firstly Glenn Hoddle was taken ill and was taken to hospital. Then a Brighton fan died at the game and to cap it all, a helicopter crashed near Leicester City and killed their owner and the pilot. A really bad day for football overall. I got in at 9.30 and caught up on Twitter before having some of the cider that I'd bought in Newcastle with Match Of The Day. I was glad that I had a rare Sunday off work the following day.


THE DARREN PERSSON STADIUM is a smart, tidy and well-kept venue. There are two covered areas, one along each side. The standing one has space for around 50 whilst the seated stand holds around 150 on benches. The rest of the ground is open, with a few steps of terracing on the side of the seated stand. Facilities at the ground are fairly standard, though the town is 15 minutes away for a better choice. Oddfellows and Pizza Cafe are well worth a visit.

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