Just a month ahead of their third successive Wembley final, and on the back of a record-breaking run of eighteen wins in a row, Northern League Day sees Ian Chandler’s Whitley Bay side at home to Ashington in a North Tyneside / South Northumberland derby that could yet help decide the First Division title race.
Bay have 23-year-old Lee Kerr – who once played up front for Newcastle Reserves alongside Albert Luque – and Paul Chow, scorer of the fastest ever goal in a Wembley cup final, in attack. Kerr’s 13 goals this season have taken him to 162 for the club, while Chow’s 25 include the recent hat-trick against Poole Town that took the Bay to Wembley. Like Chow, midfielder Damon Robson, another player with two Wembley medals to his name, started out as a youth team player at Newcastle United. Look out too for Paul Robinson, BBC Radio Newcastle’s Player of the Year in 2010, and keeper Terry Burke who has now made over 400 appearances for the Seasiders.
After a bright start to the season, Ashington’s young team are now firmly ensonced in midtable. With a Northumberland Senior Cup semi-final with Newcastle Reserves to look forward to, the Colliers will be keen to keep their five-match undefeated run intact at Hillheads. Familiar paces in the Ashington squad include Jonny Godsmark, released by the Toon in the summer after a six-month loan spell with Hereford United, ex-Newcastle junior Liam Atkin and James Harmison, brother of England cricketer and Toon fan Steve.
Bay have used the proceeds from their two Wembley wins to build a second covered stand and improve their ground to Evo-Stik standard, the league they’ll be promoted to if they finish in the top two places. With nine games left, fifth-placed Bay are nine points behind league-leaders Spennymoor with two games in hand. Three points against Ashington could take them into second, with a trip to Spennymoor on April 30th still to come before a final league game at Newcastle Benfield six days ahead of Coalville Town at Wembley.
Hillheads is a 10-15 minute walk from Whitley Bay Metro next to the town’s Ice Rink. Parking is available near the ground and there are, as you’d expect, loads of pubs nearby, including The Seahorse right by the turnstiles.
With the sun due to stay out for Northern League Day, why not take yourself down to the seaside and watch north-east England’s most successful team?
It’s a fiver in, two-fifty concessions. Kick off is at 3pm. Expect a crowd of around 600.
A version of this article first appeared in the Newcastle United fanzine True Faith.