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Saturday, 30 May 2015

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Griffins in turmoil as they quit league

A FURTHER blow to football in Tynedale has been dealt with the shock resignation of Stocksfield’s Saturday side.

With the sport in decline across the district, the loss of the Northern Alliance Premier Division outfit has hit local fans hard particularly following the great progress the club had made since starting out 10 years ago.

With the team finishing a record high sixth in the Premier after a great season last term, big things were expected as new manager Andy Innes looked to build on the strong foundation left by predecessor Colin Stromsoy.

But with problems both on and off-the-field, the men at the helm have decided that there was no way Stocksfield could continue plodding on.

Secretary Barry Donnelly blamed a lack of commitment from the players as the club struggled for 11 players, the team having to concede their recent fixture with Seaton Delaval Amateurs.

In addition, Innes has said that help behind-the-scenes was not forthcoming and the workload was too much for him and the secretary to take on by themselves.

The resignation has caught local people off guard, those involved with the club since its reformation in 2005 saddened to see things get to this point.

Donnelly has been involved from the start, and he said the lack of players was something that he never thought would be the downfall of the club.

They were without 19 players for their trip to Seaton Delaval, and things were looking just as bleak as they prepared to travel to Walker Central the following week.

The points reduction and the fines associated with the concession of a fixture was not something Stocksfield could afford, said Donnelly.

He said: “We have been struggling for a team on Saturday all season because the manager hasn’t been able to get the players to commit to play.

“We were looking at conceding again but that would have meant all the money I have taken in this season would have been paid out on fines for not fulfilling the fixture.

“A big problem is we don’t have local lads coming forward to play because they want to play on a Sunday morning instead of at a higher standard on a Saturday afternoon.

“After 10 years, I am devastated it has come to this but it wasn’t a decision taken lightly and I still think it was the right thing to do.”

Stocksfield have worked their way up through the divisions since deciding in 2005 to challenge themselves on Saturdays following their Sunday League successes.

Players such as Phil Murray, Bruce Vause and Wayne Stewart have been integral to their development, and they helped the club reach the dizzy heights of the Premier Division.

Under the leadership of Stromsoy and his trusty sidekicks Pete Fairley and Terry Shannon in more recent years, The Griffins gained the reputation of being one of the best footballing sides around as they started to show they were a match for the rest of the division.

Yet the trio’s move to the Northern League with Team Northumbria in the summer saw most of last year’s squad leave too.

Innes has worked hard to assemble a good squad and they have shown promising signs, getting the side off to a winning start with a 3-1 victory over Red House Farm.

But, while things haven’t gone right with him in terms of players available, he said the most telling thing was the lack of volunteers for the paperwork sides of things.

He said: “There is no-one more gutted than I am. It’s really disappointing but I think that the club wasn’t in a position to continue operating.

“Barry Donnelly did a fantastic job for the club but it was impossible for him to do everything on his own and he was the only man involved behind-the-scenes.

“When he missed games due to work commitments, it all fell on me, such as filling the team sheet in, and that is something I didn’t want to do.

“For example, on a midweek game after the squad turned up in dribs and drabs and I ran around sorting the team sheet, officials, changing rooms etc, there was only 10 minutes until kick off and I hadn’t even spoken to my players!”