Future could be bleak for relegated United
Published at 09:10, Monday, 18 June 2012
PONTELAND United face an uncertain future following their relegation from the Premier Division of the Northern Alliance.
Just one year after winning the division, the team is considering what to do next year after a remarkable downturn in fortunes saw them slump to Division One as they finished second bottom.
The mood around the club is downbeat as a depleted squad failed to compete, finishing above only Murton in the table.
The problems occurred when they won the Alliance title last year but could not be promoted to the Northern League as their ground at the town’s leisure centre failed to meet the league’s strict stadium criteria.
As a result, the majority of their title winning team headed for higher ranked teams, forcing the club to promote their 17-year-olds into the senior team.
And the step-up was too much for the youngsters, losing heavily to the top teams in the division.
However, the teenagers have given a good account of themselves throughout the season and have displayed plenty of promise to suggest they would be able to give it a go in Division One.
For large parts of the season, Stocksfield were embroiled in the battle to beat the drop too after a rollercoaster season.
Their cause wasn’t helped when manager John Wilson resigned on the day of their season opener, and the Griffins struggled to get any momentum going.
But in stepped the management team of Colin Stromsoy, Terry Shannon and Peter Fairley to steady the ship, hitting a bit of a purple patch with four consecutive victories.
However, their season was largely plagued by inconsistency and it was not until their fourth from last game that their survival in the Premier Division was secured.
In their remaining three games of the season, they ran the top three in the division close despite only picking up one point which will have given them a huge confidence boost going into pre-season.
Division One is the place to be for local clubs as four representatives from Tynedale will battle it out, hopefully for the top two places.
Wallington just missed out on promotion by three points and are in a great position, both on and off the field, to go one better next year.
It has been a remarkable year for the young team, clinching both the Northumberland Minor Cup and the Clayton Charity Cup, a pre-season competition open to just Tynedale teams.
By clinching the silverware, Wallington have shown they are more than capable of competing with teams across the region, and must be a candidate for the title.
In fact, what worked against them last term was that they did so well in all cup competitions, causing a major backlog of league fixtures to catch up on.
Finishing just one place behind them, but nine points adrift, was Heddon who enjoyed an indifferent season.
Inconsistency was their downfall this year, no greater example of this being their final day 2-0 victory over runaway champions Amble United. The highlight of Heddon’s season was the run they put together in the Minor Cup, missing out on a place in the semi-finals by falling to a penalty shootout defeat to Division Two’s Willington Quay Saints.
Making up the quartet in Division One are Hexham following their promotion as champions of Division Two.
It was a remarkable campaign for the youngsters who have been together since entering senior football six years ago, and they were well deserving of their title.
Constantly piling the pressure on Red House Farm, from Sunderland, who had led the division from the outset, dazzling displays saw them leapfrog their rivals and help themselves to the trophy.
Their excellent season was rounded off with goalkeeper Carl Robinson clinching the division’s Golden Gloves award for best goalkeeping record, conceding just 19 goals in 16 games.
In their debut season in the Alliance, Cumbrian boys Alston ended in 10th place after they too had an up-and-down year.
The new boys seemed to turn it on against the better teams in the division, while struggling against the lesser ones which ultimately saw them miss out on promotion with reports that the top seven will go up with a major restructure planned for the Alliance.
After taking the year to find their feet in a new league, it would be no surprise to see them come back strong for the 2012-2013 season.
The Alliance would have had more teams from the district but Wark folded due to player unavailability, while an expected application from North Tyne neighbours Bellingham failed to materialise.
Tynedale’s sole representative in Wearside League, Prudhoe Town, have had a successful year as they continue to grow following their reformation two years back.
The Citizens made the final of the Northumberland FA Senior Benevolent Bowl, the second biggest football competition in the county, while finishing mid-table in the league.
This year was an opportunity to show how far they had come.
They have big plans to build on that, and are already in the process of bringing in new players.
A further boost for the club is the news that prolific striker Chris Winn, who netted 36 times for Town, has rejected six lucrative offers to join Northern League clubs to stay at Kimberly Park.
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk