Billingham Town FC



DIG IN FOR VICTORY - 22nd March, 2018


Everybody who follows Town doesn’t need me to go over old ground and discuss woes from the past... There is only so much Prozac to go round if I decided to write an essay so don’t panic (anybody read that in a Private Jones voice?); there will be little fifth columnist talk here... so the message to manager James Hunter, his coaching staff and to the players is this: Keep Calm And Carry On for Carless Talk Costs Lives (okay a bit melodramatic but you get the gist!). While the Supporters Trust battled to get their club back, understandably, some supporters were concerned with the morale of the team during the schism. Since James Hunter took over the reigns, results have been mainly positive - the 4-1 win at Whickham and a 2-1 defeat of Tow Law highlight the progress made. Unfortunately, since the supporters took over the club, Town’s results, barring the 6-1 win against Jarrow have been bitterly disappointing. So how much does off the field activity actually affect players or does stability, inadvertently create a comfort zone mentality? It maybe a tad early to over analyse right now - a couple of wins will soon put that theory to bed. What I do know is this: during the short time I have had contact with James is his ability to put his point across in an articulate manner. He’s not one to shirk a difficult question, possibly a trait learned from Barry Oliver and he won’t sugar coat a situation so that supporters just hear propaganda. The positive thing right now is that James doesn’t have the time to reflect too much on recent defeats with fixtures coming thick and fast. In all team sports, you hear players and managers talk of learning more from the game in defeat rather than in victory. All sport is about mentality; talent only gets you so far! So James heads into Thursday nights game against Easington with plenty to ponder on. In all fairness, a combination of injuries, unavailability and the weather haven’t been conducive to winning matches. Once James selects his eleven, it’s up to the players to cross that white line and show some resolve, earn the right to play and grind out results. Everything is now in place for the team to succeed, with stability assured for the rest of the season. Time to put on our tins hats and go to Easington and put it right up em!! If we go on a run I will be happy to hear ‘stupid boy’ in my direction!



#UTT #UnitedWeStand



Stronger Together was the motto of the previous regime. The new era brings in a replacement - United We Stand. And yet from afar, observers or onlookers are talking about a United Billingham within a different context.


The debate was raised on the non league zone forum last year, and again a few weeks back, a new post on the same subject emerged. Discussion about an amalgamation between Town and Synthonia within Billingham itself has been somewhat muted.


The main support for a new joint venture appears to come from fans of other clubs who see Synthonia’s plight and Town’s recent problems as an intrinsic indication for change. I spoke to Graeme Goodman, Synthonia’s programme editor and photographer before our 0-0 draw back in April, and it was his view that the town could no longer continue with two clubs.


Around ten years ago, there was talk of the two clubs merging with the aim of becoming a conference side (National League) but supporters, particularly the Town contingent were against this concept.


Attitudes have softened since then but as it stands, unsubstantiated rumours are that Synthonia could well fold at the end of the season although I would imagine Town wouldn’t just become a benevolent charity and a change would have to make financial sense for both clubs.


One of the fore mentioned observers has been our former league chairman and intrepid journalist Mike Amos. His daily blog can be an illuminating read and over three separate days, Town were the focus of his attention.


Amos, who I have only spoken to on the odd occasion, was once good friends with my Great Uncle who passed away over a year ago. In fact, he thought so highly of him he wrote the odd article; one in particular springs to mind - a racehorse with the same name as my Great Uncle who was a useful handicapper. Apt, considering Alf was an astute dominoes player and an avid Yorkshire cricket fan although I’m not entirely sure that Alfred Hutchinson knew Alfred Hutchinson won races at York!!


So myself, and Amos have a journalistic interest in sport and our paths have never crossed until now. Amos decided not to attend the Jarrow game recently in fear of interference but Amos would be welcomed warmly and I know our chairman, Paul Beddow would like to meet him for a chat. His cryptic comments with regards to Richard Bloomfield made interesting reading and I for one, would be enchanted to meet Amos for an in depth conversation.


Amos could be surprised to find that his take on recent events at Town, may not appear as they seem. However, he wished Town good fortune and fortune would indeed, be most welcome. Who knows, maybe the powers at be at Town and Synthonia could look at ways of helping each other without having to resort to a unification. The Town needs a footballing boost - let’s see what happens in a month or two. Amos has at least, provided food for thought! For now, United We Stand remains!



#UTT #UnitedWeStand


3G OR NOT TO BE - 7TH March, 2018

So the beast from the east has decimated the northern league fixture program. I don’t know what it is about Russia, but they always force something in our direction; if it’s not sending aircraft or ships near our airspace/waters (even alleged poisons), then its the cold, biting winds from the Siberian tundra.


Although we can cope with the war games, unfortunately, Britain has no answer in dealing with the worst snowfall since the 2010/2011 season. After defeating Bishop Auckland with a last minute winner (3-2) during the last week of November, Town didn’t play another game until the new year, losing 0-2 to a talented Norton & Stockton Ancients side. The traditional Boxing Day derby with Synthonia didn’t take place until April, as the white stuff laid on top of the hallowed turf for six weeks.


Fortunately for ourselves, we are heading towards spring and unlikely to encounter such conditions again unless the mighty Motherland has her say again! Jama and his squad are going to be incredibly busy during the closing months of the season. With the Heaton Stannington and Chester-le-street games to be rearranged, Town already have further midweek games to come against Crook Town and Durham City respectively.


And as the snow melts away, leaving waterlogged pitches throughout Durham, then Saturdays fixture at Easington Colliery must be at risk to the whims of Mother Nature. It’s times like these that the perennial question of artificial surfaces crops up for debate. Currently, all non-league clubs are allowed to implement them but if say Sutton United won the National League and gained promotion, then the football league would refuse their entry into division 2.


Durham City had a similar problem when they climbed up the pyramid and were denied entry into the Northern Premier League (rules have subsequently changed since then) which contributed towards their current predicament. The chairman, after investing heavily on players, quit the club, leaving the management to field a team full of teenagers and after being relegated, they later requested to join the Northern League, further relegation and the loss of their home ground. Football can be incredibly cruel at the low end of the pyramid.


While Stockton Town and Consett continue to flourish, benefiting from the revenue procured from their 3G, poor old Durham ground share with Willington, with no return to their home city on the horizon. Green grass of old, or green synthetics? As long as Britain continues to have mild winters, then its grass all day long, but 3G pitches make financial sense and there will come a time, when they become cheaper to install, the idea of playing on grass could be a thing of the past.


This will horrify traditionalists but conversely will delight chairman and treasurers if it keeps the bailiffs away from the gates. Luckily, at Town, we have an outstanding pitch but if the option of a viable 3G surface became available, then it would be incredibly hard to turn it down. For the potential financial benefits, far outweigh any prejudices. Let’s hope the Great Bear (euphemism and no relation to Billy), keeps the beast, in the east, for good! The battle for a Balaclava is no longer required!



#UTT #UnitedWeStand


FA VASE LINKS - 2nd March, 2018

It’s over a year ago now when Town’s FA Vase run came to a valiant end to eventual finalists, Cleethorpes Town. Memories of away day victories at Bishop Auckland, Ashton Town and Bottesford Town are still vivid. But this season’s competition still has links to Billingham Town’s recent history.


For three seasons in a row, managing under severe financial restrictions, Carl Jarrett and Mickey Dunwell guided Town to division one safety, often when relegation looked a certainty! And both managers of their respective current clubs will face each other in the FA Vase semi-final when Marske United host the first leg against Stockton Town. Both men have performed heroics in mustering two talented squads and I honestly believe you could toss a coin to decide the outcome.


I wonder if their experiences at Town left an indelible mark on their respective managerial careers. They did conjure a mini vase run together while at the helm, defeating Whitehaven and South Shields before Glossop North End won 4-2 at Bedford Terrace on a cold November afternoon. The atmosphere was buzzing that day when Town came from 2-0 down to pull it back to 2-2; the main stand was literally shaking and Dunwell scored one of the goals.


Glossop, similar to Cleethorpes, have subsequently climbed the pyramid and if Stockton or Marske go all the way, then maybe league titles could be the aim in the future followed by promotion into the Northern Premier League North.


Demand for tickets will be of Willy Wonka proportions and whatever their secret formula is, we wish both teams the best of luck. Also both sides have talismans who enjoyed personal success while playing at Bedford Terrace. Stockton’s lethal marksman, Jamie Owens stayed at Town even though he had substantial financial offers from the likes of Darlington but the luring power of Shildon, eventually took him to Dean Street. At Marske, Glen Butterworth has fulfilled the potential he initially showed at Town while he was a youngster, under Jarrett’s guidance and both lads will play a significant role in guiding their team to Wembley and ultimate glory.


So when cup final day comes on BT Sport, I can point to the television and say, he played for Town! He managed Town! He coached for Town! Once a Blue always a blue I say!!


#UTT #UnitedWeStand


FAITH AND FELLOWSHIP - 22nd February, 2018

Back in August, on the opening game of the new league season, when optimism was high amongst Town’s travelling supporters, Ash Lavan demolished Ryton & Crawcrook Albion with a four goal salvo that left Ryton fans eulogising Town as future league champions.


Trying to analyse or document what has happened since then, particularly off the field would need the skills of Tolstoy in War and Peace mode. But here is the abridged version - there was a war, a brutal civil war, and now there is peace, thanks to the sheer determination, endurance and the will of the supporters.


The Billingham Town Supporters Trust, in liaison with former manager Barry Oliver and incumbent chairman Paul Beddow, set the ball in motion to save a club that had recently celebrated its half centenary and yet, potentially, faced financial ruin. FAITH, the clubs motto wouldn’t be enough to guide St Cuthbert’s sails into calmer waters but belief was certainly a starting point along with plethora amounts of desire.


There is plenty of hard work still ahead, not helped by unchartered minefields, however, it was fitting that under new leadership and renewed optimism, that Ash Lavan would play an integral part in another demolition job; this time Jarrow were on the end of the strikers rapid-fire! Another four goals to his name (some debate as whether one was an own goal),along with further strikes from Elliott Beddow and Joe Kerridge forced Jarrow to raise the white flag, a far cry from the reverse fixture which needed super sub Lavan’s divine intervention to score the vital goal in a one-nil victory.


By all accounts, there was a rousing pre-match speech in the dressing room followed by an applause from the players. At the end of the game, it was the turn of the supporters who duly reciprocated the adulations. The players and management staff deserved it, and in particular, so too did Ash Lavan.


August seems a long time ago now - nobody wants to see a repeat of the subsequent turmoil. Captain Beddow now expects every man, or woman to do his/her duty. If recent weeks are anything to go by, then resolve is a given!! For this ship isn’t ready to SINK, her crew are too battle hardened for such folly.... Town’s FAITH has a new sobriquet and ally, FELLOWSHIP.... And bless all who sail in her!


#UTT #UnitedWeStand


Next Game


Saturday 24th March



Brandon United

KO. 3.00pm

Ebac Northern League