Billingham Synthonia FC History
Billingham Synthonia F.C. is a football club based in Billingham, England. They were established in 1923, playing first in the Teesside League, and joining the Northern League in 1945. In the 1993-94 season they reached the Quarter-Finals of the FA Trophy, a run which included a victory over Conference side Kettering Town. The club’s best FA Vase run came in the 2006-07 season when they reached the semi-finals only to lose out on penalty kicks against AFC Totton. They are currently members of the STL Northern League Division One.
They are known for being the only club in England to be named after an agricultural fertiliser (Synthonia being a contraction of “synthetic ammonia”, a product manufactured by ICI, with whom the club originally had a close connection until 1994 when the ground was sold to new owners), and being the only club to go an entire season (1950-51) in the Northern League without conceding a goal at home, a last minute penalty save in the final game by goalkeeper Harry Armstrong preserving this record.
Founded in 1923, the club contested the Teesside League until the war. In 1945 they replaced the disbanded Billingham South, with whom they were unconnected in the Northern League, winning their first game 5-4 at Shildon. They have remained members ever since season and have been league champions on four occasions. They were relegated to Division 2 at the end of 1985-86 season but returned as Second Division Champions the following season.
The clubs first ground was on the south side of Belasis Lane, part of ICI’s original sporting complex. They then moved across the road to their “Well Known” Belasis Lane ground for the start of their Northern League Campaign in 1945. The original ground was built on as ICI expanded it’s War Time production. Another notable first in football occurred on this ground on 10th November 1952, when Billingham Synthonia took on an RAF Team in the first “Floodlight” game in the North of England and the first Amateur team to play under lights. Before a crowd of 3,000, Synthonia won 8-4. Synthonia had been using the lights for six years to train under. Synthonia left the Belasis Lane ground to make way for a new ICI office block in 1958, moving to the impressive Central Avenue Stadium (across the road again) with a 2,000 capacity Cantilever Stand (the longest in the Country at the time) and a running track around the perimeter. The stadium was opened on September 6th By Lord Derby. The first game was against Bishop Auckland ending 2-2. The same year the stadium was used for an England “B” international athletics meeting.
Long serving players have included Walter Stark 1945-59, “Biffer” Smith 1945-51, Tony Hetherington 1966-79, Eric Chamberlain 1969-86, Andy Harbron 1977-97, and Peter Cook, 1976-88. Bill McQuarrie, signed after the 1st floodlight game from the RAF 1952-62, became a Scottish Amateur international in 1953-54. More recent long serving players are Tommy Marron 1998-2011 and Michael Cater 2002-present.
Arthur “Dusty” Rhodes holds the club scoring record hitting eight in a 9-2 win at South Bank on Christmas Day 1945. Tony Hetherington leads the goal scorers with 51 in 1971-72 season and is also the club’s highest scorer with 253 goals in 525 appearances. Andy Harbron (senior) holds the record for appearances with 620, 29 substitute appearances and scored 75 goals.
Synthonia’s ground is currently called the Glamal Engineering Stadium, Central Avenue. The ground is also used by the Billingham Marsh House Harriers Athletics club.
The most famous ex-Synner is Brian Clough, who appeared for the club before he went on National Service. Others include Aidan Davison, a goalkeeper capped 3 times by Northern Ireland, who played for Synthonia during the 1987-88 season. Bernie Slaven, ex-Middlesbrough and Republic of Ireland striker, played for the club after his retirement from professional football, & ex-Middlesbrough and Northern Ireland winger Terry Cochrane also had a brief spell at the club. Another ex-Middlesbrough and Republic of Ireland player, Curtis Fleming, played for Synthonia in 2006/07 before entering into management with Mark Proctor at Livingston in the Scottish Football League.
JOSH MOODY (Goalkeeper) – Ex Darlington apprentice who signed for Synners in June 2010. Formerly with Billingham Town and Darlington RA.
JASON HAMILTON (Goalkeeper) – Experienced keeper who signed for Synthonia in July 2011 and is also the club’s goalkeeping coach.. Formerly with Billingham Town.
DAVID ABEL (Defender) A former Synthonia youth player who progressed to the first team. Re-signed for a third spell in 2010/11. Previously with Norton & Stockton Ancients, Billingham Town & Horden CW as well as a spell in Australia. Voted player of the year 2010/11.
ANDREW FORSTER (Defender) – Defender who signed for Synners in July 2010. Previously with Billingham Town and Stokesley.
PHILIP HORSMAN (Defender) – Centre-Back who signed for Synthonia in March 2011 from Acklam Steelworks in the Teesside League.
DANIEL McWILLIAMS (Defender) – Former Middlesbrough academy player who signed for Synners in July 2011. Has also played for Stockton Town.
MARK SCOTT (Defender) – Signed for Synners in June 2010. Experienced defender who also assists with the management team. Former clubs include Billingham Town, Spennymoor Town, Horden CW and Darlington RA.
ROBBIE BETTSON (Defender/Midfield) – An August 2010 close season signing playing at either midfield or right-back. A former youth player with Darlington. Former clubs are Marske Utd, Guisborough Town, Northallerton Town & Seaham Red Star.
MATTHEW OSMOND (Defender/Midfield) – Playing at either midfield or left-back, Matthew joined the club in March 2011. A Carlisle United youth academy player.
MICHEAL CATER (Midfield) – Long serving Synthonia player with over 300 appearances after signing at the start of the 2002-2003 season. Previously played for New Marske and Teesside Athletic.
MATT CROSSEN (Midfield) – Signed for Synners in June 2011 having previously been at Thornaby. Also played for Stockton Town.
MICHAEL DALTON (Midfield) – Signed for Synners in July 2011, former clubs include Billingham Town, Marske United and Sunderland RCA.
GLENN DONALDSON (Midfield) – Attacking midfielder who signed for Synners in June 2010. Previously with Darlington RA.
KIERAN EDWARDS (Midfield) – A Middlesbrough academy player who signed for Synthonia in March 2011.
DAVID HILLERBY (Midfield) – A 2011 close season signing. Former Norton & Stockton Ancients midfielder who has also played for Stokesley.
MICHAEL JAMESON (Midfield) – Brother of Nathan. Joined Synthonia in September 2007 from neighbours Billingham Town. Also previously with Thornaby.
NATHAN JAMESON (Midfield) – Brother of Michael. Signed for Synthonia at the start of the 2008/09 season. Had a spell at Glenavon F.C. in Northern Ireland. Also played for Billingham Town.
CHAY LIDDLE (Midfield) – Midfielder who signed for Synners in November 2010. Previously with IFK Uppsala in Sweden and Hartlepool United Youths.
DANNY EARL (Forward) – Striker who re-signed for Synthonia in March 2011 from Norton & Stockton Ancients. Has also played for Northallerton Town & Billingham Town. Top Synners goalscorer with 28 goals in the 2009/10 season.
JAMES MAGOWAN (Forward) – Joined Synthonia in March 2008 from Billingham Town for his second spell at the club. Was voted the club’s Player of the Year in 2008/09 as well as being top scorer in that season.
RICHIE STORR (Forward) – Signed in June 2010. Experienced Northern League player. Former clubs include Thornaby, Guisborough, Spennymoor Town and Norton & Stockton Ancients.
Northern League Division 1 Winners:
1956-57, 1988-89, 1989-90, 1995-96.
Northern League Division 1 Runners-up:
1949-50, 1950-51, 1951-52, 1992-93,
1994-95, 1996-97, 1997-98, 2004-05.
Northern League Division 2 Winners:
Northern League Cup Winners:
1951-52, 1987-88, 1989-90.
Northern League Cup Runners-up:
Durham Challenge Cup Winners:
1989-90, 1990-91, 2008-09, 2009-10.
Durham Challenge Cup Runners-up:
1981-82, 2002-03, 2005-06.
JR Cleator Cup Runners-up:
1988, 1989, 1990, 1996 .
North Riding Senior Cup Winners:
North Riding Amateur Cup Winners:
1938-39, 1956-57, 1962-63, 1963-64.
Teesside League Winners:
Teesside League Cup Winners:
Best FA Amateur Cup Run:
4th Round 1948-49.
Best FA Cup Run:
1st Round Proper 1948-49, 1949-50, 1951-52, 1956-57, 1957-58,
Best FA Trophy Run:
Quarter Final 1993-94.
Best FA Vase Run:
Semi-Final 2006-07. (Lost on Penalties)
More downloads available on the Billingham Synthonia site.