Ground Guide: Welfare Park, Brandon

Northern League Day fixture: Brandon United vs Team Northumbria.

Northern League Day sees Brandon United at home to Team Northumbria – yet another clash of top against bottom. Having struggled through the season on a shoestring budget, Brandon boss Steve Cook departed last week after a 1-1 draw at home to Horden left his side six points adrift in 19th place and without a win since the middle of January. Team Northumbria, in contrast, are pushing hard for the third and final promotion place, with seven wins and twenty-eight goals in their last seven league games. Arguably the best footballing side in the division, Northumbria have a potent attacking force in ex-Newcastle junior Dean Critchlow (an FA Youth Cup semi-finalist along with Andy Carroll and Fraser Forster in 2005) and former Sunderland reserve Jake Richardson, whose father Kevin played in midfield for Everton, Arsenal, Aston Villa and Real Sociedad.

Brandon were FA Vase quarter finalists twice in the 1980s and the most unlikely of Northern League champions in 2003, but this season has been an unmitigated disaster. Four wins from twenty-nine games, seventy-one goals conceded and the continued vandalism of their ground have all contributed to leaving the Durham side in grave danger of losing their Northern League place altogether. Although a fence surrounding the pitch and building work on the main stand seems to have lessened the second problem, United’s precarious league position may take longer to sort out.

Brandon’s Welfare Ground is a few miles west of Durham City. From the north, leave the A1(M) at junction 63 then follow the A167 until you hit the A690 at the Nevilles Cross Bank traffic lights. Through Langley Moor, take a right at the Lord Boyne Hotel, a left into Brandon Lane and another right at the newsagent’s just after Durham City coaches. Arriva buses 49 and 50 make the journey from Durham Bus Station. The postcode is DH7 8PL. The ongoing upgrade of the ground has sadly seen the demise of the open-air, brick-walled toilet behind one goal, which was reminiscent of the old Gallowgate End at Newcastle but with far shorter queues.

It’s £4 entry. Kick off on the 9th is at 3pm.

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