Saturday 16 September 2023

Heaton Stannington - Grounsell Park

Heaton Stannington AFC
Grounsell Park
Newton Road
High Heaton
Newcastle upon Tyne

0191 281 9230

Ground Number: 1220
Friday 15th September 2023
Heaton Stannington 5-0 Seaham Red Star
Northern League D1


The current club was established in 1910, although an earlier version of the club was playing in the Newcastle and District Amateur League until resigning in December 1904. They did not join a league until 1913 when they entered the Tyneside Minor League. The following season the club switched to Division Two of the Northern Amateur League. After gaining promotion to Division One, they won the title in 1937. They then moved up to the Tyneside League, finishing as runners-up in 1938. The following year, they were elected to the Northern League, finishing 4th out of 6 teams. The Second World War interrupted football and in Heaton Stannington's case, they took an extra year off as their ground was occupied by the military. Following some seasons of struggle, the club left the Northern League in 1952 to join the Northern Alliance. After four seasons in the Alliance, they returned to the Northern Amateur League. The club joined the relaunched North Eastern League in 1959 but left after a single season to join the Northern Combination, where they played until joining the Wearside League in 1973. Two fifth-place finishes were as good as it got on the field. 

Financial problems led to Heaton Stannington resigning from the Wearside League and joining the Tyneside Amateur League in 1982, where they played as Heaton United for the 1982–83 season. They were league champions the following season and moved up to the Northern Amateur League, which they won in 1985–86. A long spell in the Northern Alliance followed with the club finishing bottom of the Premier Division in 1996. Three seasons were spent in Division 1 before they went back up but their stay in the Premier Division would only last for a couple of seasons before another relegation in 2001. In 2004, Heaton Stannington finished as runners-up to Heddon and won promotion back to the Premier Division. This time, they would fare far better and they would finish as champions in 2012 and 2013. After the second of these titles, the club moved up to the Northern League Division 2. In 2022, Heaton Stannington finished as runners-up to Carlisle City, missing out on the title due to goal difference. Last season, they made their debut at step 5, finishing a credible 8th.

Heaton Stannington first entered the FA Cup in 1949 and has played in fourteen campaigns. Their debut campaign remains their best progress with them getting past Birtley at the third attempt. They then beat Boldon Colliery Welfare and Ashington before losing 5-1 at Blyth Spartans in the 2nd Qualifying Round. The club has entered in all but two seasons since 2016 with their best progress being two 1st Qualifying Round exits. Progress in the FA Vase has been limited, with the 3rd Round reached in 1974. Cup honours in the Northern Alliance include two League Cups, the Challenge Cup in 1990, the Combination Cup in 1998 and the Subsidiary Cup in 2000. They've also won four Northern Amateur League Challenge Cups. 

The club is based in Heaton, a district and suburb of Newcastle upon Tyne, a couple of miles east of the city centre. The name Heaton means high town, referring to the area "being situated on hills above the Ouseburn, a tributary of the River Tyne." By the 18th century, Heaton was a coal mining area which was the site of an 1815 disaster where 75 people lost their lives when the mine became flooded. Heaton was originally served by Heaton railway station, which was on the main line from Newcastle Central to Edinburgh Waverley. The station was closed on 11 August 1980, when the Tyne & Wear Metro system opened. Heaton is now served by the Chillingham Road Metro station and Byker Metro station which is closer for some in South Heaton. Famous people from Heaton include the singer Cheryl Cole.


This game was decided upon around a month ago and was the prompt to book a weekend in the North East. I had been forced to choose my time off work six months in advance, but I still couldn't book anything until the fixtures came out. It boiled down to the choice of two weekends - either this or the next. Or to put it another way, either the FA Cup or the FA Vase. With games more likely to be affected by the latter, I went for the FA Cup weekend and hoped that teams progressed. I booked a trip abroad for the other weekend and got lucky when the Friday night game at Heaton Stannington was not affected by the FA Cup as they were knocked out a couple of rounds before. Fellow hopper Colin was keen to join me and this allowed cheap accommodation with it working out at £23 a night for a shared room. I also got a great deal on the National Express return to Newcastle which was also £23.

It was a pretty easy Wednesday and although Thursday was a huge nine-hour shift that really dragged, it wasn't too bad. I had planned to get an early night but didn't end up dropping off until 11.30. I then woke up around 3.30, well before my 4.40 alarm. I was a bit slow getting started and after breakfast, I left at 5.10. I was with Colin ten minutes later. I had to wait a couple of minutes for him and that meant we only got on our 05.47 train with a couple of hours to spare. It didn't help that the train was on the far platform but at least we were on. I was hoping for a nice quiet train but although it was at first, it started to get rammed around Northwick Park. It was busy until we got to Victoria where the main station opened up into space. We walked to the coach station where I got my standard coach breakfast of lamb samosa. It was delicious, greasy and spicy, perfect. It was disappointing to see that the coach was full, but at least Colin and I got the spacious back seat. I was glad to have him with me rather than some randomer. I started my Birtley Town update for my visit on Sunday but was frustrated by patchy internet. I then played a modified version of Championship Manager 01/02 which allowed me to play in the 1989/90 season as a then Conference side Wycombe Wanderers. It was pretty decent and the time flew by.

We got to our stop at Leeds at 11.40, twenty minutes early. I fancied some food and so headed to the market. The Jenny's Jerk Chicken stall looked good but I stood in the queue for a few minutes with no action. Instead, I went to Lezizas Indian stall where I had a Seekh kebab meal and chips for £6. It was freshly cooked and tasty. Colin stopped at his beloved Greggs but we were back at the coach well in time for departure. Colin had his usual snooze on the way up to Newcastle. I'd have loved to have carried on with my game on my laptop, but the battery was flat. I used my battery bank to put some power in but it was annoying that there was no USB charging on board the coach. I carried on with my game and remember how addictive the original game was. I took Barnsley from 17th in Division 3 to being e European superpower. Wycombe's progress was more steady as I had a massive overhaul whilst looking for the right formation. The last bit of the journey from Sunderland really dragged but we were in Newcastle ahead of time. We walked to Newcastle Central and got the appropriate ticket before an 8-minute wait for the Metro to South Shields via Hebburn.

We were at our accommodation, the Longship in Hebburn by 4.10. It took an absolute age to check in due to an issue with their computer. Not the receptionist's fault but 20 minutes later, we were in. We left the room at 4.40, heading back to the Metro and onto Gateshead Wetherspoons. Colin managed to lose his Metro ticket and had to buy another. We were at the Tilley Stone in Gateshead by 5.20. I got a BBQ Bacon Chicken Cheese Panini, chips and a bottle of Aspalls for £6.86. From there a walk to Poundland for a couple of cans of Irn Bru and on the Metro to South Gosforth. It was then a 25 minute walk to the ground with us getting there just before 7. I paid £7 entry, £1.50 programme, £2.50 Woodpecker Cider and £8 'Stanspotting' T-shirt. I then did a lap of the pitch before kickoff. 

Heaton Stannington were 8th in the league whilst Seaham Red Star were 12th having played a couple of games more. The hosts had played five league games. They'd beaten Tow Law Town 4-1, won 2-1 at Redcar Athletic and 2-1 at West Auckland Town. They'd drawn 2-2 against Carlisle City, their only defeat coming on the opening day as they lost 2-0 against Whickham. The visitors had won two, drawn two and lost three of their games so far. They'd lost 2-1 at Whitley Bay and 2-0 against Carlisle City in their last couple of games and had won 2-1 against Penrith and 2-0 at Tow Law Town in the two before that. It was fairly end to end, though Heaton Stannington were on top. They took the lead on 11 minutes, a close-range finish by Louis Anderson. On 21 minutes, it was 2-0, a ball down the centre towards the right side was finished by Sean Reid. Seaham had a brief good spell but on 35 minutes it was 3-0, a lovely strike by Konnor Lamb from the edge of the area finding the bottom right-hand corner. It was 4-0 right on half time, a lovely shot into the top right by Leighton Hopper. The second half died down a bit but Seaham never threatened a comeback. It was 5-0 on 71 minutes, Andy Burn with a shot from inside the area.

It had been a great evening in very wet conditions. 'Stan' were a vibrant and welcoming club who had worked hard to attract a good fanbase. They reminded me of West Didsbury and Chorlton. The attendance of 541 was another great advert for Friday night football but it's something so few try. More rain on the way back to Longbenton station and annoyance at the lack of shops for cans. It was around 15 minutes wait for our metro back to Hebburn. It was a routine journey with yet more rain at the other end. We were back at our hotel at 10.40, having a pint before bed. We went upstairs hoping to do my blog but my mobile Internet was hopeless and I gave up in the end.


I first visited Grounsell Park on 27th March 2019. I was in the area going to Newcastle Benfield in the evening and had time to kill. Heaton Stannington could have been an option that evening, but by pure luck, it would bring up a rare Friday evening tick some three years later. At the time, it was a friendly welcome but quite a basic setup. The only area of cover was a small 50-seat metal stand alongside the bar area which also had some cover. The rest of the ground was open.


Not a lot had changed since my initial visit. Another metal stand had been plonked in to comply with ground regulations. As uninspiring as the ground was, it was very pleasant, despite the rain. It was all about the people though, there were some passionate and knowledgeable people behind the scenes. There were also some great food stalls but I was full up. There was also a decent club shop.

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