Tow Law Town

CLUB HISTORY

The “Lawyers” were founded in 1890 and became founder members of the Auckland and District League in 1892, winning the Durham Amateur Cup the following year. They first joined the Northern League in 1894, winning the Durham Challenge Cup two years later. After leaving the Northern League the Lawyers played in the South Durham Alliance (1900 to 1905) and Crook and District League (1912 to 1914). After the war the club played in the Auckland and District League until being readmitted to the Northern League in 1920, where it has played ever since.

Before the 1994/95 season the club had not won the championship since their two successive wins in 1923/24 and 1924/25, although the League Cup was won in 1973/74 when Ashington were beaten 2-1 in the final at Crook. The 1994/95 title win remains an outstanding memory for the club, especially as it was won by 14 clear points. The Lawyers also finished runners up in 1998/99 and 2001/2002.

Another outstanding memory is the tremendous F.A. Cup run of 1967/68. Having reached the first round, Tow Law beat Mansfield 5-1 and in the second round drew 1-1 with Shrewsbury at Ironworks Road. The Lawyers went into the hat for the Third Round, drawing a home tie with Arsenal. Sadly it was not to be after they went down 6-2 at Shrewsbury in the replay. Frank McGee reported that “Arsenal were saved from a fate worse than death – a trip to Tow Law in January”.

On May 9th 1998 Peter Quigley and Tony Heslop took the club to Wembley for the first time after a tremendous F.A. Vase run. It was a splendid adventure which sadly ended with a 1-0 defeat by Tiverton.

The Lawyers first ground was in Church Lane but the present Ironworks Road ground was built by volunteers during the miners’ strike of 1892/93. Ironically it was rebuilt during another miners’ strike in 1921. Today the much improved state of the ground is down to the regular work which has been done since 1921 by many hardworking bands of voluntary labour. A major scare occurred early in the 2004/05 season when the playing surface was struck by subsidence, rendering it unplayable. The club was forced to ground share at Esh Winning for the remainder of the season, while repairs were carried out by the Coal Board.

Continuity at the club was provided by the longest serving trio of officials in the League, Chairman Harry Hodgson, Treasurer Harry Dixon and Club Secretary Bernard Fairbairn (who followed his father and grandfather into the job) had over 100 years service between them. Harry Hodgson stood down as Chairman at the end of the 95/96 season but is still a member of the committee. At the end of 1997 Harry Dixon also stood down but stayed on as the Club President until his death in 2002, Harry Hodgson taking over as President. Their places have been taken over by John Flynn as Chairman and Kevin McCormick as Treasurer. Bernard Fairbairn continued as Secretary until 2007, having been in the post since 1961 – a grand total of 46 years (“A prisoner would get less for murder.”) Steve Moralee took on the role of Club Secretary.

During 2004, John Flynn stood down as Chairman. Harry Hodgson again showed his devotion to the club, returning as Chairman for one last year. Following the 2004/05 season, Harry Hodgson took a well deserved retirement. His replacement, Sandra Gordon, became the first female Chair at the club and only the third in the long history of the League.

Billy Hall, who played for Blackpool and Manchester City, returned to Tow Law after his playing days and became the team’s trainer. He remained a staunch supporter until he died in January 2000, aged 98. He had been the Northern League’s and the Football League’s oldest surviving player and was a member Tow Law’s title winning teams in the 1920s. In recent times the Lawyers’ most famous player was the future England International Chris Waddle, who transferred to Newcastle in 1980.

PLAYING STAFF

Goalkeepers

Stephen Robinson Signed from Whickham at the start of the 2010-11 season and voted Player of the Year in his first season at the club. Stephen is one of the best shot stoppers in the Northern League.

Dave Anderson. Tall, commanding keeper signed at the start of last season. Will be looking to break into the first team.

Defence

Michael Robson Started at Hartlepool as a youth before brief spells at Consett and Washington. A regular in the Lawyers’ defence after signing at the start of last season, Michael is a tall, commanding centre half who is comfortable with the ball at his feet or in the air. An excellent reader of the game.

Ian Davison. Player-manager. Tough tackling full-back and very effective from set plays, Ian spent three years at Manchester United as a junior before joining Consett at the age of 16. First signed for Tow Law in 2002 after a spell at Chester-le-Street, spending four years at the club before moves to Washington and Durham City, where he won the Northern League title. After a spell with Sunderland Nissan he returned to Consett, helping them to second in the league. Took over as manager at the start of the 2010-11 season.

Andrew Snaith Powerful centre half signed from Whickham in August 2011.

Jonathan Hewitson. Full back or holding midfielder signed from Consett having previously been at Darlington. Joined in November 2010 after a month’s loan and voted Newcomer of the Year.

Gary Anderson Gary spent his youth with York City then had spells with Durham City, Spennymoor, Bishop Auckland and Sunderland RCA. Reads the game very well and is very composed centre half.

Luke Thompson Young defender recently released by Middlesbrough. Impressed in pre-season.

Lewis Harrison Right back. Lewis spent several years at Sunderland before signing for Consett. Joined Tow Law in 2009-2010 and was voted Young Player of the Year. Overlaps for fun and has a fantastic engine.

Midfield

Gary Mackay Gary is a recent signing from local football. He is a very composed holding midfielder, very rarely gives the ball away, and links everything up through the middle of the park.

Andy Thompson Andrew started as a youth at Sunderland AFC. Finished as top scorer during spells at Consett and Tow Law before signing for Blyth Spartans. After moves to Whitby Town, Sunderland Nissan (loan) and Shildon, he re-signed for the Lawyers in December 2010. Can play as a striker when needed but thrives in midfield. Can strike with either foot.

Stuart Morris Pacy winger who played alongside manager Ian Davison for Durham City.

Scott Thompson Another player who signed at the start of last season. Scott played football in America for two years before joining previous club Spennymoor Town. Has also played for Dunston UTS and Tow Law. A composed midfielder who chips in with his share of goals.

Thomas Watkinson Thomas signed for the Lawyers half way through the 2009-2010 season after several years at Sunderland. Really came to life last season and was the main driving force in midfield. Voted Players’ Player of the Year.

Jamie Turnbull. Left-sided midfielder who signed at the start of last season after his release from Sunderland.

Forwards

Lee Hamilton Lee played for Workington AFC in the Unibond Premier before first signing for Tow Law in 2005. After spells at Bedlington Terriers and Ashington he returned to Tow Law for a second time. Left for Ryton and spent last season at West Allotment Celtic. A pacy forward who runs the channels well and can also play out wide.

Marc Nixon A long standing transfer target, Marc is a former professional at Carlisle United, where he was a reserve team regular. Played for Wark in the Northern Alliance scoring 86 goals in two seasons. Scored 18 goals for Esh Winning last season. A very intelligent forward who can use both feet and plays well with his back to goal.

Matthew Scott Matty started at Consett reserves and was a prolific scorer with 37 goals. Picked up a serious injury which meant he didn’t feature for the first team. Tow Law quickly moved to sign him in July 2010 and he enjoyed a very good debut season. His never say die attitide makes him one of the most respected figures in the dressing room.

Lee Dial Suffered from injuries after joining the club at the start of last season. Previously with Chester-le-Street Town.

More details on the Tow Law website.

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