Northern League Clubs in Crisis

Ryton, Gillford Park and Billingham Town last season, the North Yorkshire Moors and Easington this. Along with the continuing problems at Stokesley Sports Club – where financial difficulties have resulted in the loss of long-serving manager Ted Watts, the kit man, club secretary, every one of last season’s 38 registered players and all but two of this season’s games – the lights almost went out on Guisborough Town in more ways than one when the newly-promoted club unexpectedly received a five-figure electricity bill from E.on. Although club president and Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop was able to negotiate a series of installments to pay off the debt, the Priorymen – one of the friendliest and most innovative teams in either division of the Northern League – are still in need of support. A public meeting saw thousands of pounds pledged and Taylor Wimpey, building relations as well as homes after the unpopular decision to allow construction of 40 new properties in the market town, have stepped in as shirt and stand sponsor, promising ground repairs and a four-figure sum in each of the next three years. “We are taking the opportunity to restructure the club in order to prevent this from occurring again. In the meantime, the generosity of the community has helped the club to weather the financial storm,” press officer John Butterfield told the local Evening Gazette.

If you’d like to help, donations from the public are being accepted on the club’s website or you could treat yourself to a copy of fan and committee member Mark Cowan’s entertaining account of last season’s promotion campaign, Far From The Massive Crowds. All profits from the book go back to Guisborough Town.

Perhaps fittingly for a club so close to the North Sea coastline, things are a lot murkier at Easington Colliery, manager Andy Colledge resigning twice in the wake of last May’s promotion from the Wearside League after promises over the playing budget at the club were allegedly broken. Bottom of the table and deducted three points for failing to play at Gillford Park in the week many of their players joined Colledge in departing Welfare Park. With Mark Proudlock sacked after a 7-1 defeat at Crook, Colledge returned for a third time ahead of yesterday’s 3-1 loss at home to West Allotment Celtic. “I wanted to resign last Wednesday night after the chairman told spectators at the Peterlee v Coxhoe game that I was going to be sacked,” the Northern Echo reported Proudlock as saying. With more players leaving, Easington, like Stokesley, will just be hoping to see out the season.

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