The club was formed in 1944 under the name of Axwell Park Colliery Welfare, although they were colloquially termed the “Home Guard Team”! In their early days they played in the Derwent Valley League, before switching to the Northern Combination and, in 1974, to the Wearside League. Whickham enjoyed quite a degree of success at this level before joining the Northern League Second Division in 1988.
Having reached the Semi Final of the FA Vase in 1978/79, losing to Almondsbury Greenway, it was in 1981 that the club had their finest hour, going all the way to the Twin Towers in the final of the FA Vase after overcoming Windsor & Eton in a titanic struggle in the semi. An estimated 5,000 fans followed Whickham to Wembley to see them take on Midlands side Willenhall. The build up to the game was not without its problems: Paul Allon, who had notched the crucial injury- time winner in the semi, suffered an injury before the final and had to be content with a place on the bench. Ironically, this made room for lan Diamond, who had suffered the same fate whilst with Blue Star in 1978.
The game began horribly, with Willenhall going 2-0 up in the opening ten minutes. The task of winning the Vase appeared to be a forlorn one, but the gloom was partially dispelled when fullback Alan Scott quickly halved the deficit. Then, an accidental collision with Cawthra led to the Willenhall goalkeeper being stretchered off. Was the tide turning? Twelve minutes into the second half and Whickham were level thanks to Ronnie Williamson. 2-2 it was, and 2-2 it stayed till the 90-minute mark. Who could dig that bit deeper and find the extra reserves of strength needed to life the trophy? The answer was supplied in the dying seconds of the first half of extra-time. Billy Cawthra broke away and launched a potent shot which, though blocked, ricocheted off a hapless Willenhall defender into the net. 3-2, and the FA Vase was headed back to Whickham!
The club nearly reached Wembley again in 1983/84 before losing in their third semi final following a controversial second leg home game against Stansted which saw two Whickham players sent off in a bad tempered game.
After just one season in the Second Division under the management of Billy Hodgson the club gained promotion for the first time, spending three seasons in the Northern League top flight before relegation in 19991/92. Another promotion came in 19994/95 as winners of the Second Division, but a two-season spell in the top flight ended with relegation in 1996/97 and the club have remained in the Second Division ever since.
After Billy Hodgson’s reign the club struggled to find its identity and with funds remaining tight they struggled to compete as managers came and went. In 1999-2000 the club found themselves in a perilous position and without the intervention of current boss Tony Ainsley may well have gone out of business. With no money and no players, Tony managed to consolidate the club’s place in the Northern League.
Over the last five years the club has undertaken major changes. The hard work was rewarded when a fantastic run in which we defeated four First Division sides saw us reach the final of the prestigious Durham Challenge Cup. After being second best for long spells against a very good Billingham Synthonia side, two late goals from Kenny Boyle and Ian Robson snatched an amazing win for Whickham.
We followed up the capture of the DCC by winning the newly named Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup the very next season, defeating Penrith after a penalty shoot out. In our defence of the DCC we also reached the semi-final before losing a close game away at Chester le Street Town.
Last season we made yet more changes off the field with former Northern and Football League official Paul Nicholson taking over as the club’s secretary, John Farrey taking over as Treasurer and Brian McCartney as our new chairman. On the management side we’re delighted with our current management team, Terry Ritson still doubling up as our Sports Therapist and Tony’s Assistant Manager while continuing in his role as chairman of Redheugh Boys Club. Tony Dowson, a teacher and Level 3 FA Coach continues in his role as our 1st Team Coach.
Scott Cresswell Goalkeeper
21-year-old first choice keeper now in his fourth season at the club.
Gareth Powell Goalkeeper
31-year-old back up keeper.
Lewis Axon Defender
Craig Cavanagh Defender
23-year-old younger brother of club captain Paul. A regular squad member after stepping up from local football.
Michael Hedley Defender
A member of our Durham Challenge Cup winning team in 2005-2006, Michael is now in his second spell at the club after playing for Bedlington Terriers.
Kris Holmes Defender
Now assistant mananger, Holmer rejoined the club in 2003-04 after a short spell at Newcastle Blue Star.
Anthony Lowrie Defender
Anth signed from Bedlington Terriers in 2009. Vastly experienced and a great influence on our younger players.
Sam MacIntosh Defender
22-year-old defender signed in 2010. A left-sided player with a cracking shot.
Adam Wilkinson Defender
Versatile player originally signed in 2009 as a centre half.
Ross Peareth Midfield
Only 19 years old, Ross was a first team regular last season after joining the club in 2009.
Paul Cavanagh Midfield
31-year-old club captain and by far our longest serving player. Joined from Redheugh Boys Club and now part of the management team.
Kieran Wrightson Midfield
20-year-old midfielder who played at Team Northumbria last season. Previously with Benfield and West Allotment Celtic.
Graeme King Midfield
Signed in 2002 and a regular ever since, starting 100 games in the last three seasons.
Alastair Henderson Midfield
Craig Rook Midfield
Joint player of the year last season, Craig is a 23-year-old left midfielder or full back now in his third season at the club.
Scott Robson Midfield
Joint player of the year last season, Scott re-joined the club from Bedlington Terriers in 2009. Will get his fair share of goals from midfield.
Callum Benson Midfield
Edward Keenan Midfield
Young midfielder in his first season of Northern League football. Previously in our youth sides.
Craig Hodgson Midfield
Versatile 20-year-old who can play in midfield or at full back. Last seasons Players’ Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year.
Danny Henderson Midfield
Left sided player who’s been at the club for ten years.
Craig Tate Midfield
Now in his third season at the club. Made 15 appearances last year.
Dominic Elliott Forward
Steven Aiston Forward
Young forward who played for Consett and Esh Winning last season. Previously at Ryton and Chester le Street Town.
Lawrence McKenna Forward
24-year-old forward signed during the summer from Heaton Stannington in the Northern Alliance.
Scott Swanston Forward
Signed from Dunston in 2009, Swanny scored nine goals last season and is a regular starter for the club.
Tony Thirkell Forward
Now 25, Tony re-signed for us in 2010 after a couple of seasons away at Birtley Town and Jarrow Roofing. Top scorer last season with 23 goals in 37 games.