New recruits are favourites to impress in cup campaign
Published at 09:11, Monday, 16 July 2012
THE holders of Tynedale’s biggest senior football competition will have a fight on their hands to retain their prize.
For the returning Clayton Charity Cup will be the strongest it has been since its revival three years ago, with eight teams battling it out for local bragging rights.
Champions Wallington, of Pin Point Recruitment Northern Alliance Division One, will be in a healthy position to pose a threat once again, but it will be a tough ask with plenty of quality opposition standing in their way.
New boys Ryton and Crawcrook Albion will start the pre-season tournament as favourites as their Northern League status sees them highest ranked among all eight sides.
They have been invited into the contest as previous winners both as Crawcrook and Crawcrook Villa pre-First World War in 1904 and 1908 respectively, so they will be keen to pick up the trophy more than 100 years on!
Also sure to cause problems are Prudhoe Town, of the Wearside League, who are a match for most North-Eastern teams on their day.
After the disappointment of missing out in the final of the Northumberland FA Senior Benevolent Bowl, they will hope to start the season with a coveted trophy.
Also joining as new boys are Corbridge United U21 who will get their first taste of competitive senior football before their debut campaign in the newly introduced Northumberland U21 League.
With them playing against similar aged teenagers when the season kicks off next month, the Clayton Cup will provide vital experience for them in their stop gap years.
Rounding off the quartet of new teams is Ponteland United who will hope to bounce back from relegation from Northern Alliance Premier Division by getting off to a solid start.
The future of the senior team is still uncertain and the cup competition will give a clear indication of how things may pan out during the new season.
The remaining four teams, all of whom ply their trade in the Alliance, were part of the contest last year with finalists Stocksfield the highest ranked among them.
There are high hopes for the Premier side ahead of the new season and they are taking the Clayton Cup seriously to act as a springboard for their campaign.
Also hoping to make an impression will be Hexham who will be full of confidence following their capture of the Division Two championship.
They are hoping to mount a serious challenge in the division above and are hoping their enviable team spirit can spearhead the charge.
After a mixed first season in the Alliance, Alston will hope to build on their experiences over the past 12 months.
Although classed as part of Cumbria, the team feel very much part of Tynedale and will be playing with pride when the action starts next week.
All of these teams will have to overhaul the up-and-coming Wallington though, but the team from Scots Gap will be reluctant to give up their crown.
The Greens had a remarkable season after scooping the Clayton Cup, winning the Northumberland FA Minor Cup and just missing out on promotion to the Alliance Premier.
West Division representative for the county FA said: “We are very keen to keep the local teams involved and help them by making a competitive start to the season.
“Following Wallington’s win last year, it proves that this competition can act as a springboard for success for the new season.
“It is more exciting now that we have eight teams from six different divisions, and we are all looking forward to it.”
The action gets under way on Monday evening with Ryton taking on Corbridge at Wallington.
The other quarter finals will be played on Wednesday, with Alston hosting Prudhoe, Wallington entertaining Ponteland and Hexham facing Stocksfield at Prudhoe High School.
The winners of these games will then go on to contest the semi-finals the following week, while the losers are entered into the Stan Jackson Cup.
The Clayton Cup final will be played on Friday, August 3, with the other cup final on Monday, July 30.
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk