It’s been a dramatic year at Seaton Delaval Amateurs. Twelfth in last year’s Northern Alliance Premier Division, they kicked off the new season with a 4-1 win at defending champions Harraby Catholic Club before losing 4-0 at home to newly-promoted Gateshead Rutherford the following weekend. After failing to win again in the league until the last week of September, the club only lost another three league games between then and the end of the season. In March there were rumours that the club might fold, in April they won their first trophy since 1998, beating Blyth Town 3-2 in the Challenge Cup final, and in May they made the final of the Northumberland Senior Benevolent Bowl, where they lost out by the same scoreline to Percy Main. A run of six league wins in a row left Delaval as high as fourth in the final standings, six points behind champions Ponteland United, five shy of Alnwick Town and trailing Harraby in third on goal difference alone. In between Nick Gray, an ex-Northampton Town player and Delaval manager for the last four years, left to replace Trevor Benjamin, the one-time Premier League striker who had been managing Morpeth Town. His replacement next season, Mick Jeffels, comes from Walker Central, where he previously coached Michael Richardson, now a highly-rated midfielder with Newcastle United.
Steven Mundy is another young player with a bright future – and one of the many reasons for Delaval’s recent success. The 21-year-old keeper has spent much of the season on loan from Northern League Ashington, making 31 appearances including both cup finals and a man-of-the-match performance in a 1-0 win at Alnwick Town. Although he turned out twice for Ashington midway through the season, Mundy has no regrets about returning to Delaval, where he’d also played the previous year: “I didn’t want to sit on the bench. I wanted to play even if it was a lower league and I’m thrilled with how the season has turned out.”
“The game at Alnwick (on his 21st birthday) was probably our best performance of the season all over the park. We went into it knowing we should have got something from the game at our place the week before so we weren’t short on motivation. We rode our luck a few times but everyone thought we got what we deserved. The other game that has stood out this season is the 1-0 win against Ponteland at home (two days after Delaval had won the Challenge Cup) where we played eighty-nine minutes with ten men.”
Mundy – who has also been on the books of Northern League West Allotment Celtic – has “no idea” if he’ll be staying with Ashington or back on loan at Delaval next year. “The main difference between the Northern League and the Alliance, I think, is the speed at which the game is played. The Northern League is more rapid and with the standard of some players the difference really shows. But the Alliance is by no means a poor standard. It’s so competitive and all the teams are capable of beating each other. What we’ve managed to do this season is a testament to the team and a great achievement for the club.”