A Fans’ View of the Northern League 2011-12 Season

With the Northern League getting underway this Saturday afternoon, we’ve been asking fans for their predictions on how they think their club’s season will go.

First up is Mark Cowan, whose entertaining Far From The Massive Crowds captured the frequent highs and occasional lows of Guisborough Town‘s 2010-11 promotion campaign. Mark is also on twitter here.

Where do you think you’ll finish this season?

Hopefully in a position that maintains our First Division status for the following season. That’s the first aim. Beyond that, a mid table finish and a run in the cups would be lovely.

Who are the opposition you’re most worried about?

It has to be Spennymoor and Whitley Bay. Spennymoor’s sizeable group of reserve players would walk into most other sides. Whitley Bay’s team and large away following are formidable. I’m less worried, more excited at the prospect. It’s good to pit your wits against top sides and in many ways you’ve nothing to lose in these fixtures as there are no expectations.

Best and worst news of the summer?

Best – lots of good news, including home and away shirt sponsorship and the pleasing sight of supporters pulling together to tidy the ground and give it a lick of paint in preparation for our First Division re-birth.

Worst news – injuries before a ball has been kicked in anger. Michael Roberts is out for several months after breaking his collar point and David Onions suffered knee ligament damage in a pre-season game.

Any major worries about this season?

I’m less worried and more intrigued to see how our young players step up to the challenge of playing better teams week in, week out. I’m looking forward to the challenge of seeing new sides and visiting grounds we haven’t had the pleasure of visiting in six years of second division football. At this point in the season, my enthusiasm and optimism is undimmed. Let’s hope that by Christmas I’m feeling just as enthusiastic!

Fellow newcomers to Division One, Newton Aycliffe have lost last season’s 44-goal top scorer Warren Byrne to Shildon but added ex-Hartlepool United defender to last season’s title-winning squad. Colin McNeillie, who you can follow on twitter here, tells us more:

Where do you think you’ll finish this season?

I think this will be a season of consolidation as there is a big difference in tempo, but I think a midtable finish would be well within Aycliffe’s capabilities in what’ll be our first ever season in the First Division.

Any major worries?

The size of the squad could be a point of concern. I think the team could do with another three or four players to cover possible injuries.

Best and worst news of the summer?

The worst news from the summer is the loss of Warren Byrne to local rivals Shildon, who we’ve also drawn in the FA Vase. Warren’s a proven goalscorer and he will be missed.

The best news is obviously our first season in the FA Cup. Hopefully a good run in that will put the name of Newton Aycliffe FC on the lips of the wider football world.

Who are the opposition you’re most worried about?

The main contenders will again be Spennymoor, Whitley Bay and Shildon. I’m sure Bedlington will also be in the running with the patronage of their extremely wealthy benefactor Mr Rich.

Despite losing Steve Cuggy, Gavin Fell and David Coulson to Blyth Spartans, Whitley Bay have managed to keep hold of Ian Chandler, Kyle Hayes and Lee Kerr while adding some quality to the squad in the shape of Robbie Dale from Blyth and ex-South Shields skipper Lee-Paul Scroggins. With Paul Chow and Paul Robinson running the show in the recent Northern Leagues United game, Peter Fox is understandably optimistic about the coming season. You can follow him on twitter here.

Where do you think you’ll finish this year?

Well having finished third for the last four seasons since we last won the league in 2006/07 I am tempted to stick to that. But hopefully we’ll go one better at least and get second. I would like to win the League Cup too as it is the only thing we haven’t won since we returned to the Northern League in 2001 (barring the FA Cup of course!). Oh and another winning Wembley trip!

The opposition you’re most worried about?

I think anyone who finishes above Spennymoor will win the league. It will be an interesting season though. I expect Benfield, Consett and Dunston to be up there, along with Bedlington Terriers and West Auckland too.

Best and worst News?

The worst news was the departure of Gav Fell and Steve Cuggy to Blyth, although the feared player exodus hasn’t really materialised. Steve has been with Ian as part of the management team since January 2004. Gav has been instrumental in coaching and scouting since he came to the club at the start of the 2006/07. Gav has done a lot of work at all levels of the club with the reserves and academy. A massive thanks to both and good luck in the future (along with David Coulson).

The best news was that Ian Chandler turned Blyth down first and is staying! Also some of the new signings look really exciting such as Lee Scroggins and Robbie Dale. Christie Elliott looks to have really come on since last year. The other good news is that the remaining players linked with a move to Blyth such as Lee Kerr and Darren Timmons have elected to stay.

Any worries?

Well pre-season hasn’t been great (although I am writing this after a 9-1 win at Horden!) so one worry is that we tend to start slowly and give ourselves too much to do later in the season. Too many dropped points at home (especially early on) cost us last year and our better performances in the league were away from home.

Also if we lose in the FA Vase early (2nd or 3rd round) the shock to the system will be massive!

On the plus side Ian Chandler has already said he thought we were a bit “boring” at home last year and wants to get back to goal fest performances so that will make things interesting!

Finally, Spennymoor Town fan Dan Newell, man of the match in last month’s Northern Leagues United game, expects great things from Jason Ainsley’s side:

Where do you think you’ll finish this season?

Champions. After two title wins in a row, anything less would be disappointing.

Who are the opposition you’re most worried about?

Probably Bedlington Terriers. They’ve made some cracking signings this summer.

Any major worries?

An early exit from the Vase might knock us as there is so much emphasis from other clubs and fans for us to do well in the competition.

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One Response to A Fans’ View of the Northern League 2011-12 Season

  1. I am just hoping (yet again) that two Northern League clubs make it to the FA Vase Final!

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