Non League Daily

BLOG: Title win "unexpected" for Marske boss Jarrett

Marske United became the first Teesside winners of the Northern League title for nearly twenty years earlier this month – and manager Carl Jarrett admits that the honour was unexpected writes NLD writer Ray Simpson

Not since Billingham Synthonia won the league under Stuart Coleby in 1996 has any club from Teesside sampled success. In the last few years, the title race has been dominated by clubs from either South Durham or Tyneside, with only Billingham Town going close in 2007.

“It’s only now that winning the title has finally sunk in,” said Jarrett. “I had the championship trophy in my house over last weekend, and it was only then that I understood what we had achieved in just a year.

“When I came to the club last summer, we had to rebuild the squad. We brought in some new signings who have done well, and most of all, the players all came together as a very good unit.”

It was a very nervous end to the season. Marske completed all their fixtures, but rivals Shildon, over whom they had a five point advantage, still had two games remaining against Durham and Bedlington.

The Railwaymen beat Durham City 3-1, and looked all set to win the league but then very surprisingly drew 1-1 at Bedlington, much to the delight and surprise of the Marske contingent who had travelled northwards for the game.

“I really thought the title race was all over. I went to the Shildon v Durham game which Shildon won, and I thought that it was a formality that they were going to win at Bedlington a few days later.

“My assistant, Nathan Haslam, went. Instead, I had a meeting with some of the players about next season, and at about 8pm Nathan texted me to say that Bedlington had taken the lead.

“I couldn’t believe it, and expected Shildon to bounce back with a few goals.

“But Nathan didn’t text again for about another 45 minutes, and that was to say that Shildon had scored. I thought our chances had definitely gone then, because I expected Shildon to score a second. But they didn’t. I spent an anxious 15 minutes pacing up and down our kitchen, dreading another text, and instead Nathan rang me and said; “We’re Northern League champions!” I couldn’t believe it, and I must admit, it’s taken over a fortnight for it to sink in.”

Jarrett says that the target set by chairman Peter Collinson was to consolidate in the league, instead of flirting with relegation as they had done near the end of the previous season.

“I don’t think many people expected us to finish in the top ten, to be honest. Many thought that we were going through a transitional period and wouldn’t challenge. The chairman said that he wanted progression from last season, and would have been happy with a top half finish, and maybe build up over the next two years for a title challenge. I’ve done a terrible thing now and won the league!

“When you look at our record, we’ve finished with 90 points. It’s not as good as the champions of previous years, but our record was still very good. Out of the other teams chasing the title, only Shildon did the double over us. We beat all of the teams around us, such as North Shields by 3-2 and 4-0. Jarrow Roofing did the double also, while we lost games at Durham and Penrith. They were the only league games we lost in the season.

“I really thought that a draw at home to Bedlington would cost us, when we were 3-1 up against ten men and ended up drawing 3-3.

“A lot of fund raising efforts have gone on in the village, the volunteers have worked very hard. People say that we’ve overachieved, but the table doesn’t lie.”

Interview: Ray Simpson

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