A BRIEF HISTORY OF WHITLEY BAY
The present Whitley Bay Football Club was formed in 1950 and was known as Whitley Bay Athletic. From 1950 until 1955 Athletic were members of the Northern Alliance, winning the League Championship once and the League Cup twice. In 1952/53 they became the first amateur team for sixty years to win the Northumberland Senior Cup. In 1958 a limited company was formed, the Athletic dropped from the title and the club
joined the Northern League.
During the 1960’s Whitley Bay became one of the top amateur clubs in the country. They won the Northern League title in 1964/65 and 1965/66, as well as the League Cup in 1964/65. The Club won the Northumberland Senior Cup six times in ten years. But it was in the Amateur Cup that Whitley rose to national prominence, reaching the semi-finals twice and the quarter finals four times. The quarter final against Hendon in 1965 set the ground record, when 7301 supporters packed into Hillheads Park only to see Hendon win 3-1.
The early 1970’s saw Bay’s successes continue with the League Cup being won in 1970/71, and the County Cup in 1970/71 and 1972/73. With the demise of amateur football the Club’s fortunes took a nosedive, culminating in them having to apply for re-election to the League in 1979/80.
In 1987/88, with fortunes rising, the club joined the Northern Premier League. In 1989/90 the Bay had their best ever run in the FA Cup, when they reached the 3rd Round, going down 1-0 at Rochdale, after a 1-0 win at then League side Scarborough, and in the 2nd Round defeating former winners Preston North End 2-0 in front of the BBC Match of the Day cameras.
The following season Whitley won not only the First Division Cup for the second time but also the Championship and promotion to the Premier Division. They finished in 11th spot in the 1993/94 season, their best position in the Premier Division. A decline in fortunes followed during the later 90’s and in 2000 Whitley were relegated back to the Northern League.
A new century marked the beginning of the most successful period in the club’s history as they rose to national prominence with record breaking achievements in the FA Vase. The 2001/02 season proved to be one of the most memorable in the clubs’ history when in only their second season in the competition and against all expectations they won the FA Vase at Villa Park, thanks to a spectacular Ian Chandler header in extra time against their Eastern League opponents Tiptree United. With expectations high, things didn’t go to plan the following season and only 12 months after leading the team to Vase glory, manager Andy Gowens resigned. The appointment of Ian Chandler as manager in January 2004 proved a masterstroke, with another Vase winner, Steve Cuggy returning as coach. Few could have imagined the unprecedented success that would follow in the next seven years. In Ian Chandler’s first full season in charge Whitley won the Northumberland Senior Cup and a respectable 5th place in the league was also attained, but much more was to follow in 2006/07, which was a season to savour for the fans as Whitley won the league title on the final day of the season with a 3-1 win at Durham City. The honours didn’t end there as goalkeeper Terry Burke was named Northern League Player of the Year with Lee Kerr the Young Player of the Year, while Ian Chandler took the Manager of the Year award. As the only club to score more than 100 league goals Whitley’s brand of exciting attacking play was a joy to watch.
In 2007/08 the highlight of the season came in the FA Vase when Whitley reached the semi-final stage having beaten the holders and hot favourites Truro City 3-0 in Cornwall. Another long trip in the quarter-finals took them to Hungerford Town where they won 1-0. Disaster struck in the first leg of the semi final at Lowestoft where a 4-0 win for the Trawlermen made them firm favourites to go through but in a fantastic second leg Whitley were three up after only 24 minutes but could not manage a crucial fourth. Both legs were played in front of just over 2000 spectators. Off the field long serving Secretary Derek Breakwell was presented with the Arthur Clark Memorial Trophy for his services to the Northern League.
2008/09 was a season that Bay fans will never forget. The FA Vase once again took centre stage with Manchester side Abbey Hey being Whitley’s first opponents. The visitors went 2-0 up and only a late equaliser from Chris Moore took the game to extra time where Bay ran out 5-2 winners. Hard fought victories at Penrith and Bootle and then home wins against Stratford Town and Biggleswade Town took Whitley into the semi-final for the second year running where they were once again paired with Lowestoft. Bay had home advantage in the 1st leg and in front of a crowd of 2,947 goals from Paul Chow and Lee Kerr gave them a 2-1 lead to take to Crown Meadow. In the 2nd leg a capacity crowd of 2,250 saw Bay’s lead wiped out inside 3 minutes but an equaliser from Leon Ryan and a superb display from the whole team saw Whitley Bay become the first North East side to reach the new Wembley where their opponents were Glossop North End from the North West Counties League. And what an occasion it was. With 12,212 fans in the stadium goals from Lee Kerr and Paul Chow (his 40th of the season) brought the FA Vase back to Whitley Bay for the 2nd time in 7 years. Lee Kerr also was voted the Man of the Match.
2009/10 was yet another memorable season with Whitley fighting on four fronts for honours. Despite fixture congestion counting against them, they won the Northumberland Senior Cup at St James Park, defeating Ashington 2-1. Whitley had previously beaten a strong Newcastle United Reserve side in the Semi-Final. The Bay reached the semi final of the League Cup but went down 2-1 to South Shields. For a third successive season, they finished 3rd in the league despite a backlog of fixtures due to the severe winter weather.
But once again Wembley beckoned when after victories over Alsager Town, Boldmere St Michaels, Poole Town, Chertsey Town, Shildon and an epic two legged semi final against Barwell, Whitley Bay reached the FA Vase Final for the third time and for the second successive season. This time Bay’s opponents were Wroxham from the Eastern Counties League. The thousands of fans who made the trip from the north east to Wembley were
celebrating after only 21 seconds when Paul Chow took advantage of hesitation in the Wroxham defence to score the fastest goal ever seen in a Wembley Final. Although Wroxham got an equaliser, Whitley’s lead was soon restored when a Richard Hodgson free kick was turned into his own net by a Wroxham defender. Lee Kerr’s spectacular effort after just 50 seconds of the second half ensured the Vase would be coming back to Whitley Bay for a record equalling third time. Further goals from Adam Johnston, Paul Robinson and Josh Gillies completed the 6-1 victory, the highest score in the history of theFA Vase Final. Paul Chow was also named Man of the Match.
Last season again saw Whitley finish 3rd in the league, but only goal difference denied them runners up spot. Could they make it three FA Vase wins in a row? It had never been done before and despite comfortable home victories over AFC Liverpool and Dunstable Town, several times it took late goals to keep Whitley on course, notably at Herne Bay and Dunston. Inevitably, the semi final was drama packed, as two very late goals, the second in stoppage time, gave Whitley a crucial 2-1 lead to bring back from Poole Town. The return leg at Hillheads saw Poole take an early lead but a Paul Chow hat trick sent the Bay back to Wembley where Coalville Town gave Whitley their toughest test yet and an epic Final was decided by Paul Chow’s 86th minute winner as Whitley triumphed 3-2. Chow, who had scored in every round, and Kerr, had twice given Whitley the lead as they both set the remarkable record of scoring in three consecutive Vase Finals. A great display from keeper Terry Burke earned him the man of the match award on his last appearance of an outstanding career. And so Whitley Bay completed a record breaking hat trick of Vase successes and became the first team ever to win the trophy four times.
Kyle was signed in the summer of 2010 having played for the reserves the previous season. He made a quick impact and following the retirement of Terry Burke at the end of last season he is now the Club’s undisputed No1 ‘keeper. Aged just 19, he was voted Young Player of the Year last season. He made 35 appearances and was on the bench at Wembley.
A young keeper signed as cover for Kyle Hayes. Made his debut on the opening day against Dunston.
Darren is a strong tackling defender, good organiser and is useful in the air. He adds strength to the defence. He missed the FA Vase 2009 Final through a cartilage operation but played at Wembley in both the 2010 and 2011 Finals.
Cheeks as he is known to everyone, signed for Whitley during the summer of 2010 from neighbours Blyth Spartans where he had spent 10 years. He is a cultured defender who reads the game well and was a key member of last year’s Vase winning side.
Callum is another young player to make the 1st team after impressive performances for the reserves. He shows great maturity for a player only 21 years of age. He was a member of the squad at Wembley in 2009 and played the whole game in both the 2010 and 2011 Vase Finals.
Brian returned to Hillheads last summer for another spell at the Club and added strength to the defence. He is a big powerful defender who misses nothing the air and scores his fair amount of goals. Brian appeared at Wembley last season, coming off the bench during the second half of the Vase Final.
Comfortable in defence or midfield, Craig has become a versatile, influential and very
popular player since joining the club during 2008/09 from Bedlington Terriers. He was previously a member of our academy before joining Sunderland as a junior. He started all three games at Wembley and was voted Players and Supporters’ Player of the Year last season, when he also won the goal of the season award.
Damon signed for the club from Horden C.W. near the end of the 2005/06 season. A busy, influential midfield player with good ball distribution. He has also been at Newcastle United and Bishop Auckland. He captained the side last season and has started all three games at Wembley.
Paul signed from Newcastle Blue Star. He is an attacking midfielder who is a favourite with the fans. Formerly with York City he has also played for Bedlington Terriers. Paul has played in all three
Wembley Finals. He scored in the 2010 Vase Final and set up the second goal in the 2011 Final. Won the Goal of the Season, BBC Newcastle Player of the Year, Club Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year and Supporters’ Player of the Year in 2009/10.
First played for the club in 2002/03 season. Returned to Hillheads this summer from South
Shields. A strong hard tackling midfielder who also has a good goal scoring record, having scored over 20 goals for the Mariners last season.
Gary signed for the club during the summer of 2010 from Consett. Gary is a quick right sided player who established himself in the side last season and was in the starting line up at Wembley.
A promising youngster who looks set to make the step up from the reserves after impressing during pre-season.
David joined the club during the summer of 2010 from Consett. A left sided player who has speed and goal scoring ability. He was in the Wembley starting line up against Coalville.
Phil returned to Hillheads during the close season after spending most of last season at Ashington. Has also played for Blyth and York City. A tall striker who scored almost 50 goals during his previous spells at the Club.
A member of the Academy who stepped up to senior football, he has always been a natural striker. Lee set a unique record during 2004/05, becoming the only player ever to have scored in the FA Cup, FA Vase and FA Youth Cup in the same season. Last season he overtook Ian Chandler’s total of 156 goals to become the all time third top scorer for the club. Lee scored the first goal at Wembley in 2009 and was voted Man of the Match and was on the score sheet again in both the 2010 and 2011 Finals.
Paul joined the club from Jarrow Roofing, where he had been a prolific scorer. Paul is a lethal striker, forming a great partnership with Lee Kerr. He scored his 40th goal of the season and Bay’s second at Wembley in 2009. Paul made history in the 2010 Vase Final by scoring after only 21 seconds, the fastest goal at the new Wembley and the fastest ever in any Wembley Cup Final. Last season he scored in every round of the Vase, including twice at Wembley and is now the club’s 5th top scorer of all time. He won both Northern League and BBC Newcastle Player of the Year awards last season.
Robbie Dale joined during the summer from Blyth Spartans, for whom he was a good goal scorer
and fans’ favourite during the seven year spell at Croft Park. A tremendous acquisition, Robbie is a
tall, skilful striker who will prove a real handful for opposition defences in the Northern League.
Ian is the Club’s fourth top goalscorer with 156 to his name. He also played professionally at Barnsley and Aldershot, and locally at Blyth, Durham, Bishop Auckland and briefly at Jarrow Roofing before returning to Whitley Bay to take over as Manager in 2004. Ian won the Northern League Manager of the Year title for 2006/07 after guiding the team to the League Championship. He holds a unique record having scored the winner in the 2002 FA Vase Final and later managing the winning team, leading Whitley to Vase glory at Wembley in 2008/09 and again in 2009/10 and 2010/11. He was also voted Northern League Manager of the Year on all three occasions, another unique record.
Brian returned as a player to Hillheads last season and has just been appointed Assistant Manager. He is a no nonsense, hard tackling defender. After leaving the Bay in 2008 Brian won the Northern League Player of The Year award while at Sunderland Nissan and then joined Jarrow Roofing and helped them to promotion back to Division One.
An approved FA Physio, highly respected by the players and Management. Glen assists with coaching and players pre and post match preparations. Always has final say on players’ fitness and availability in order to protect them from long term damage. Had the players in peak condition for all three Wembley Finals.