Ground Guide: Kingsley Park, Ryton.

Although Ryton Football Club has only been in existence since 1970, the town’s links with football stretch back a lot longer. Howard Kendall, Everton legend and former Manchester City and Athletic Bilbao manager, was born here in 1946, following in the footsteps of another local lad, Stan Ramsay, who captained Norwich City to their first ever honour, the Division Three (South) championship in 1934.

After a narrow loss to Billingham Synthonia in last season’s Durham Challenge Cup final, this year has been much more of a struggle for Ryton. After promised sponsorship money fell through, their management team and every player bar one left the club in early September. They’ve lost every league game since and currently sit bottom of the league with three points and a goal difference of minus 104. Despite this setback, no-one at the club has given up. “There’ll be a Ryton Football Club in the Northern League as long as I’m alive,” says secretary Ken Rodger. “It may be that we won’t get another point this season but we’ll get to the summer, regroup, and try to get back on track.”

Ryton’s Kingsley Park ground is in Crawcrook, west of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The first you thing you notice upon entering is a row of seven bus shelters forming a stand of sorts. It’s one of those idiosyncrasies that non-league is all about. Above the two small stands on the far touchline the view extends to the other side the Tyne valley. Even though the ground was built just over 10 years ago it has bags of character and a great rural setting.

“The programme was a hoot,” writes visiting blogger Paul Kirkwood. “Parts of it read like sequences from Michael Palin’s Ripping Yarns. Ryton replaced Prudoe & Wylam Co-op in the Northern Combination League; they progressed with a loan of £12 10s from the Ryton Social Club; and used to change on matchdays at Crookhill Labour Rooms or the Crookhill Store Room.”

Ryton are at home to Billingham Synthonia on April 9th. Entrance is £5 adults and £2.50 concessions and their highest crowd of the season is already guaranteed. Come along and join us.

Getting there: Wylam is on the Newcastle to Carlisle line, fifteen minutes west of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. On Saturdays trains depart Newcastle Central Station at six minutes to the hour between 10.54 and 1.54, returning at 17.05, 18.03 and half hourly thereafter. The Boathouse pub, eight times CAMRA’s Northumbria Pub of the Year and with 14 hand pulled real ales on tap, is just outside the station, by the south bank of the River Tyne. Off peak day returns are £3.90. From the station Kingsley Park is a mile-long walk uphill or a £3 taxi ride.

Alternatively, bus numbers 10, 602 and 604 run frequently between Newcastle and Crawcrook, stopping within 500 metres of the ground. On Saturdays, Go Ahead Northern’s number 11 service departs stand C of Newcastle’s Eldon Square Bus Station on the hour and half hour, calling outside Newcastle Central Station and Blaydon Bus Station en route to the Fox & Hounds pub in Crawcrook. For sat navvers, the post code is NE40 3SN.

Nearby: Along with The Boathouse and the other pubs in Wylam (where you can visit the birthplace of George Stephenson, father of the railways), there are plenty of places to eat and drink in Crawcrook itself including the Crawcrook Tandoori Restaurant, the Rising Sun and the Fox and Hounds. The Metro Centre is only six miles away, while curry lovers can catch the Curry Train from Newcastle to Corbridge after the game, which includes a return train journey and a four course meal.

Many thanks to Paul Kirkwood of the splendid Up for the Cup blog.

twohundredpercent article on the problems at Ryton.

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