Football Focus Issue 65 - Page 69

West Allotment Celtic Northern Amateur League and Northern Alliance before the club earned an elevation to the Northern League in 2004. Promotion to the top tier followed immediately, where the club have remained, apart from a three-year sojourn in Division 2 between 2011-14. One of the drawbacks of growing organically is that the pace of development can be slow in comparison to more cash-rich regimes. Those running the club, and several of the current committee are descendants of those founding fathers from 1928, have always been innovative and thrifty. In 1939, a local referee, Tommy Thompson, officiated at the FA Cup Final between Portsmouth and Wolves; it was promptly arranged for him to bring the match ball along to Allotment, where a set of posts were hastily erected and locals charged 1d to take a shot with the Cup Final ball. Such inventive activities have been the hallmark of the club through the years and have helped keep the club afloat when so many others have withered but, compared to some rival outfits in the Northern League, Allotment deal in “pennies” rather than “pounds”. It is a position that made watching Morpeth Town win the FA Vase in May a bitter-sweet affair. There was genuine joy for Dave Malone and Nicky Grey, the Morpeth management team, both of whom have long links with Allotment. You then scan the team sheet and note that seven of the Vase-winning squad have been on Allotment’s books in recent seasons. It is hard not to think “What if……?”. While Morpeth were winning on a national scale, more locally Allotment did outstandingly well to maintain their First Division status (ironically, a late-season 2-1 win over Morpeth was critical). Starting with very few players at the start of the campaign, the new management team of Jon McDonald, Andy Wright and Richie Mitchell had to use competitive matches as trials. It took until well into the autumn before the team became settled and of sufficient standard to start to pick up points. Fortunately, the baseline is much higher this term and, whilst, maintenance of a spot in the top tier of the Northern League remains the priority, there is a strong feeling that it will be achieved much more comfortably this time around. Although there is a positive vibe around the club, there are many challenges to be faced. The lack of a significant support base is one, as is the on-going battle to obtain sponsors and there is the constant battle to acquire youth off the field as well as on it. West Allotment is one of the few village teams to still exist in the area; the result of much blood, sweat and tears down the past 88 years. Once this club gets into your soul, it is virtually impossible to exorcise it – the challenge is to attract a few more souls! It is a real challenge, especially given the number of rival clubs in close proximity. That said, the village of West Allotment is growing significantly; the trick is to get these new people to buy into the club. The junior section will help but there is nothing like success to attract supporters so there is a genuine, and highly testing, balancing act going on between the long- and short-term requirements of a smashing little club that has always punched above its weight. Thomas Potter was established in 1923 as a stockist of industrial fasteners, now part of the Arndale group it has probably the largest range in the North East of England. In addition to literally millions of fasteners and fixings we have heavily invested in the pipe and fitting side of the business. We now stock pipe, fittings, flanges and valves in the following materials: Carbon steel | Malleable iron | Wrought iron Stainless steel | Hygienic Stainless steel | Copper | Plastics Main Club Sponsor of West Allotment Celtic Tel: 01670 591 100 Web: Unit 1G, Admiral Business Park, Nelson Way, Cramlington, NE23 1WG Seashells of Monkseaton TRADITIONAL FISH & CHIPS Parties catered for For the Perfect Fish and Chips Every Time Visit Seashells of Monkseaton Opening Hours Mon- Fri 11:30-22:30 Sat 11:30 22:00 Sun 12:00 20:00 0191 2524477 13 Front Street, Whitley Bay NE25 8AQ 69