“From the Corner House to the Holy Grail”
The club was formed in 1988 as Heaton Corner House and entered the Northern Alliance Second Division. After one season playing at Walker Park, the club moved to their current home at Sam Smith’s Sports Ground and changed its name to Benfield Park.
Promotion to the First Division was soon gained and then to the Premier Division where the club won both the League title and Northern Alliance League Cup at the first attempt. The Lions enjoyed success in competitions including the Northumberland Minor Cup and Senior Benevolent Bowl. It was the Bowl that woule earn Benfield admission into the prestigious Northumberland FA Senior Cup.
In the summer of 1999 Benfield Park were approached by fellow Northern Alliance club North Shields St. Columbas with a request to join forces, the two clubs playing as Newcastle Benfield Saints. The new marriage continued to build on and off the field and a renewed vigour was shown by winning the Premier Division title in 2002/03 and with it promotion to the Northern League.
The summer of 2003 turned out to be a turbulent one for Benfield as successful manager Alan Bell resigned along with his assistant. The club acted swiftly to appoint Keith Sheardown in time for the beginning of pre season training. Sheardown’s impact was unbelievable. Worries that the club would be fighting a relegation battle were soon dispelled as the new boss and his assistant Lee Boyle worked miracles to achieve promotion to the First Division in their very first season in charge.
In the 2004-05 close season the club was fortunate to receive a £74,000 grant from the Football Stadia Improvements Fund to assist with the drainage of the pitch, a new perimeter fence and a hard standing area. That season the finished in fourth-place in the Northern League and at the same time reached the final of the Northumberland FA Senior Cup.
Benfield were honoured by the City of Newcastle upon Tyne with the award of the “2004 Team of the Year” presented to chairman Jimmy Rowe at Newcastle’s Civic Centre.
After a difficult start to the 2005/06 campaign, Sheardown surprisingly resigned at the end of the first month and was replaced by former Blyth Spartans manager Paul Baker. The new manager quickly changed the club’s fortunes and the players responded well to his new approach.
During the club’s relatively short history it had never been past the Extra-Preliminary Round of the FA Cup and had never been further than the 2nd Round Proper of the Carlsbeg FA Vase. Firstly, Baker laid the FA Vase bogey to rest with a Fifth Round appearance in the 2005 competition. In the FA Cup the Baker Boys exceded all expectations by reaching the Fourth Qualifying Round where they hosted Conference side York City in front of a record 928 fans at Sam Smith’s in October.
The former Football League side were generous in their praise for The Lions; so much so that they moved in quickly to sign striker Richard Brodie to boost their own promotion bid. While a modest fee was agreed for the player, the promise of a pre-season friendly at Sam Smith’s provided a boost to morale after the loss of such a popular player.
The 2006-07 season saw Benfield reach the fifth round of the Vase and enjoy a good run in the league which evetually secured a 5th place spot. The season was capped by winning the Arngrove Northern League Cup, captain Alu Bangura scoring the only goal as we saw off Sunderland Nissan.
2007-8 proved to be another good season for Benfield who made it to the fifth round of the Vase once more before again being knocked out by the eventual winners. This was followed by a good run in the league which secured a 5th place finish. The season was capped by winning the Arngrove Northern League Cup beating Sunderland Nissan by 1-0, captain Alu Bangura scoring the winning goal.
The 2008-9 season saw Benfield do the double of the League Cup and Northern League championship, clinching the title in the very last game of the season. After a rotation of managerial staff over the past year Paul Baker made a welcome return as manager, assisted by Alu Bangura.
2009-10 Did not go as well as previous years, though Benfield finished a creditable fifth in the league. The luck of the draw had the team facing strong teams early on in all of the crucial cup matches.
2010-11 Finished fourth in a very close run end to the season with the final game a head to head against League Champions Spennymoor in the final of the League Cup. The 3-1 home win made for a satisfying end to an otherwise poor season.
Benfield FC Club Honours
Northern League Cup, League Championship & J R Cleator Cup Treble 2008-09
Northumberland Senior Cup: R-Up: 2004-05
Northern Alliance League Cup: R-Up: 2002-03
Northern Alliance Div 2: 1989-90
Northern Alliance Div 1: R-Up: 1993-94
Northern Alliance: 1994-95, 2002-03
Northern League Div 2: R-Up: 2003-04
Cleator Cup: R-Up: 2007-08
Northern League Cup: 2006-07 08-09 10-11
In the Dugout
Paul Baker Bakes. Team Manager
An ex professional footballer who has worked his way through his coaching badges since his retirement from the game in 2000. Learned a hell of coaching experience through observations and indeed hands on experience from all the coaches/managers he has encountered over his 18yr professional career. An all round winner who always gave 100% in his playing career and certainly expects that from his players and staff around him here at Benfield FC.
Alu Bangura Lewi. Player-Coach
An experienced right hand man for Bakes, Lewi has been a tremendous player and character throughout his long time in and around the Northern League, putting in excellent performances as a midfield general for many clubs and providing valuable experience which helped teams to compete for top honours. He will I’m sure be pushing his younger team mates hard to ensure they have to be on top of their game to keep him in the dugout and not on the pitch this coming season.
Derek Gair Darky, Main man. Kit Man
What do you need doing? What do you want done? Derek has the ability to create an atmosphere which in essential to Bakes and Lewi not only on match days but training days and non training days. He not only helps out with the physiotherapy side of things with his “Fiery Jack rubbing lotion (Oh my God!) but he also cleans water bottles and looks after the training equipment. His experience around the clubs over the last 100 years has made him quite a well known lovable character, who’s been there and done it all. “Top man, Darky”
Michael Armstrong Mad Mick. Physio
Mad Mick has been physio for some time now and has looked after the players injuries at all hours of the day/week making sure they receive top quality and essential rehabilitation and treatment helping them back to fitness in the shortest time possible, to enable Bakes to have options with team selection on a game to game basis. Catherine has joined the team having gained some valuable experience helping her to qualify and become a full time physiotherapist after leaving Uni.”
Andy Grainger. G. Goalkeeper.
Andy continues to be one of the best goalkeepers in the league here at Benfield now in his 10th year for the Club. Excellent shot stopper, his 6ft plus frame enables him to dominate his penalty area, a true loyal player for the club and an outstanding Goalkeeper.
Scott McGuire. Scotty. Goalkeeper.
Scott has been signed this season to provide cover for Andy and indeed improve his own game. Scott has been working with Bakes at Gateshead College and is a fine shot stopping, agile keeper who will develop well working alongside Andy and our goalkeeping coach at Benfield.
Kev Leighton. Kev. Defender.
Club captain who proves his worth with his determined, never say die attitude. His leadership skills are there to be seen week in week out with some strong tackling, and excellent heading ability along with his communication encouraging and spurring on his team mates throughout the games each week.
Phil Lumsden. Lumma. Defender.
Possibly one of the best central defenders in the league. Phil effortlessly puts in some tremendous performances with his excellent reading of the game as well as his cool calm technical ability which allows him to play from the defence creating and joining in with the attacking side of the game.
Carl Patterson. Patta. Defender.
No nonsense, accomplished defender in his role as left full back. Carl has developed and become an outstanding player in his position, his defending qualities along with his ability to get forward has made him a tremendous asset to the Club.
Mark Turnbull. Sparky. Defender.
Mark has established himself as a very strong contender for a regular place at right full back having put in some tremendous performances in his first season for the Club last year. Ability to create and get forward at ease with and amazing fitness level.
Keiron Mcdonald. Keeza. Defender.
A late addition last season a product of Gateshead College Academy, Keiron came into the team and his quality in possession quickly enabled him to settle into the team creating some excellent goal scoring opportunities, as well as scoring a couple of outstanding long range goals.
Scott Martindale. Scotty. Defender.
New signing form Consett, another product of Gateshead College. Scott has been added to give height and strength to the defence, with his 6’4 frame as well as up front. Has played in a number of positions for previous Clubs and will be looking to command a place in the team.
Kenny Boyle. Boyla. Defender.
Another player who has tremendous fitness levels as well as being accomplished player in possession, very comfortable on the ball and looks to get forward to create and join in form his defensive role, can operate at right full back, central or indeed central midfield if need be.
Ricky Fenwick. Ricky. Defender.
Tremendous attitude to training and games, didn’t figure much last season coming back from injury but I’m sure will be pushing for a place in the team this term. Can operate in a number of positions with an excellent left foot.
Brian Doddsworth. Doddsy. Midfield.
An outstanding performer who can also play in a number of positions, adding to the value of his worth for the Club. Quick and tenacious tackling player who has an excellent ability to pass and cross with accuracy while running at pace from wide positions.
Nicky Kane. Kaney. Midfield.
Another new signing. Kaney had an outstanding season for Chester-le-st last season and is currently looking to do the same for Benfield, can operate in central midfield as well as wide, tremendous fitness levels as well as being very comfortable in possession.
Chris Feasy. Feas. Midfield.
Chris’s second season now with Benfield, quick and determined player in possession who has the ability to turn defenders inside out with his clever feet. Excellent dead ball specialist and is very useful in the air.
Shaun Bell. Belly. Midfield.
An excellent competitor who has his admirers across the Northern League. Strong running from central areas enables Belly to get into some fine goal scoring positions, his tackling both in defence and in forward areas is a massive part of his game, creates most play with his driving runs with and without the ball.
Paul Antony. Paul. Midfield.
Energy levels and ability levels are excellent and this enable s Paul to create some tremendous forward play helping the team create and score some fine goals. Can use both feet and has a range of pass both long and short. Great ability to beat players with some clever play in possession.
Steven Buzzeo. Buzz. Midfield.
Second spell at Benfield Steven is a comfortable player in possession, looks to drive forward with some great forward passes as well as driving through central areas with the ball. Strong tackler who will win possession back in key areas for the team.
Andy Hirst. Hirsty. Midfield.
New signing Hirsty has moved into the area from Yorkshire. An ex-professional who has had experience playing in the Unibond league with Stalybridge Celtic. Can operate wide or through the middle, uses both feet and is very quick both in possession and tracking back to help out defending.
Johnny Mann. Manny. Midfield.
Young enthusiastic, talented youngster who broke into and played some excellent football last season performing in a number of positions wide midfield and striker. Certainly looking to make an impact in the team this coming season.
Mick Chilton. Chilts. Striker.
An out and out goal scoring player who has earned the reputation as top poacher throughout his time in the Northern League. Chilts will always find the net in all types of games, his ability in the air is a huge strength and his quality finishing in the penalty area is second to none.
Adam Rowntree. Adam. Striker.
Powerful striker with electric pace. Still learning as his experience grows with more and more games for the Club. Quiet lad who will terrify defences when he gets an opportunity to run at them or has space in behind to exploit.
Scott Fenwick. Scotty. Striker.
Strong, old fashioned style centre forward who came into the side early last season and made an instant impact scoring and putting in some fine performances. Having staked a claim to the number 9 shirt, his aim this season is to wear it regularly.
John Wright. John John. Striker.
Striker with an exceptional ability to score goals, recently joined the club from Hibernian FC where he had been playing professionally since leaving school. John John as he’s known will I’m sure be putting his ability and reputation to the test week in week out, to establish a regular place in the team.
Stephen Mills. Millsa. Striker.
Only 16 years old but has shown already he has the ability to push for appearances this season having came into the Club pre-season and impressed both the lads and the coaching staff with his excellent attitude ability to hold his own within the senior squad players; has a bright future.