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|RAY SIMPSON`S NORTHERN LEAGUE ROUND-UP
Brandon United`s hopes of staying in the Northern League have been given a major boost with the commencement of construction of a security fence at the Welfare Ground.
The fence is key to the club’s future, because when it is completed, other schemes inside the ground will follow, and hopefully the ground will reach the required Northern League standard by the end of March next year, otherwise Brandon will be kicked out of the league.
It’s been a long tough road for the club in terms of obtaining funding – there have been many setbacks along the way – but now it looks as if there may be some light at the end of the tunnel for a club that runs several teams at different age levels.
“It was a great feeling to see the work begin last week,” said secretary Barry Ross. “It might take up to twelve weeks to erect the fence, but once that’s done, then we can start work on other parts of the ground. We need to build some new terracing, a new walkway around the perimeter, and then improve the changing rooms. Hopefully, the fence will stop the vandalism that has plagued us in recent years.
“We know that we have to meet the league standard by the end of March next year, so time is of the essence. It’s a slow process, but for everybody at the club, it’s fantastic to see things taking shape at long last.”
League sponsor Ann Barkas says that she couldn’t resist the approach from Second Division Thornaby to be one of their club sponsors.
The businesswoman has backed the league itself for two years, and has now decided to help struggling Thornaby, who are racing against time to get their Teesdale Park ground up to standard by the end of March next year.
“They came along and asked me if I would like them to sponsor them in some way,” she said. “Personally, I don’t want to see them disappear from the league, I want to help them in any way I can. As well, I felt that to offer my full support was a good way of enhancing the profile of my new business `Start to Learn Recruitment Limited`, whose logo I look forward to seeing on Thornaby shirts around the various Northern league grounds this season.”
Manager Ray Morton said: "We’re really grateful for Ann’s support. Everyone recognises that the work at Teesdale Park has been long overdue but with help from Start to Learn Recruitment, our other sponsor Motif 8 Teamwear and the management at the Tees/Durham Probation service together with the hard working committee, the ground and park is starting to be returned to its former state.”
Darlington RA manager Nick Harrison says that he is encouraged by the attitude of his players.
Harrison, along with his assistant Jamie Smith, has had to start from scratch during the summer after taking over the management role after the end of last season, and he’s steadily built up a squad of twenty-two players as the RA try to ensure that they stay out of the relegation placings.
“We’ve got a lot of hard working players who are willing to learn,” he said.
“The team is going to be a mixture of youth and experience, with some players returning to the club who were with us before and helped the RA progress from the Wearside League, like Marc Radmore and Lee Johnson.
“Their hearts are in the right place, which is a good thing. There are some good ingredients in the squad, which we hope can help us progress.”
Meanwhile, the RA are offering some of the cheapest football in the Northern League.
The club has decided to keep prices at a bare minimum, in an attempt to improve attendances at Brinkburn Road.
Secretary Chris Griffin said: “We have decided to reward our loyal supporters, by not increasing our prices this year. Entrance to all league home games will be only £3 for adults, £1.50 for OAPs and kids.”
Billingham Town manager Carl Jarrett said that the club’s title odds were a motivating factor in their 2-0 opening day win over Esh Winning.
According to a local bookmaker, Town are 500/1 to win the league, and Jarrett said: “We were in the dressing room before the game, feeling a bit nervous and tense, and somebody said that he’d noticed on the internet that we are 500/1 to win the league.
“Somebody said that he’d put a tenner on, somebody else jokingly said not to waste money, and we all had a good laugh about it, which relaxed us. I don’t know what the odds are now though after our win on Saturday!”
The latest odds on the Northern League title, according to Chisholms bookmakers are: Spennymoor 5/2, Shildon 4/1, Bedlington 6/1, Whitley Bay 13/2, Newcastle Benfield 10/1, Ashington 12/1, West Auckland 16/1, West Allotment 22/1, Dunston 25/1, Penrith 33/1, Bishop Auckland, Consett, Billingham Synthonia 33/1, Norton 40/1, South Shields 50/1, Ryton, Tow Law 66/1, Stokesley 80/1, Sunderland RCA 100/1, Jarrow Roofing 125/1, Esh Winning 250/1, Billingham Town 500/1
Esh Winning’s new boss Adam Furness isn’t pressing the panic button after two defeats in their opening two matches.
Esh lost both opening league games by 2-0 against Billingham Town and Bishop Auckland, and Furness, who took over in the summer when Geoff Young left, said: “It’s obviously not the start we were looking for and we’ve got to learn to take our chances. Having said that, I’d be worried if we weren’t creating any or really struggling against the opposition. We’ve shown in the first two games that we will compete at this level and although we’ve been touted as relegation material by some, I’m confident that once we get our first points on the board we’ll settle down and continue to climb the table. Nobody at the club is panicking, as we know what the players are capable of.”
Crook Town manager Brian Maitland (pictured) is looking for at least a top half finish this season.
Crook have started full of promise in the last two seasons but faded and finished in the bottom half of the Second Division table, and Maitland, who was the club’s fourth manager last season after arriving in April, said: “Since we finished the season, Paul Adamson, who has come to us as joint manager, and I have been very active, and we’ve signed a lot of proven Northern League players.
“We started our pre season in June, and twenty-two players turned up, which was very encouraging.”
Maitland, who has been involved with several Northern League clubs in the past, is delighted with the backing he has received from the club.
“There is no pressure on me to get promotion,” he said. “I just want to achieve some gradual progression, which I’ve achieved at every club I’ve been to.
“Paul and I have worked very hard since the final whistle of last season, and we’re building a brand new team, while we’ve had calls from players who are interested in playing for the club. We’ve put a new side together, and hopefully we’ll be able to rouse a sleeping giant.”
The season has started well for Crook, with wins over Washington and Morpeth to put them amongst the early leaders.
Amongst the players Maitland has recruited are Marty O’Riordan, Paul Moss, Anthony Dobell and Kevin Devine, all of whom have First Division experience.
Meanwhile, Billy Penman has taken over as chairman of the club following the departure of Steve Buddle near the end of last season.
Tow Law Town have signed a shirt sponsorship deal with Bodywork Direct from Crook. “The owner, Peter Finn, is going to help us in a big way,” said Tow Law secretary Steve Moralee.
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