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Blyth Spartans and South Shields secure double promotion for North East football

Friday 14th April 2017
While two big North East football clubs struggle in the Premier League, the feel good factor remains present in the region amongst the non-league sides. Blyth Spartans and South Shields both have reason to celebrate.

Sunderland and Middlesbrough have suffered nightmare Premier League seasons as both seem set for relegation to the Championship, cut adrift at the bottom of the table. However, further down English football's pyramid, North East football is moving in the right direction.

Two North East football success stories



Blyth Spartans



Blyth, a town in Northumberland, is often overshadowed by its neighbours just 13 miles away: Newcastle United.

However, despite this, they are one of the most famous teams in non-league football. Not just in the region but also on a national level. Various FA Cup runs down the years have catapulted them into the spotlight, including reaching the 5th round in 1978 and then reaching round three in 2014.
They have recently had five seasons in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier following their latest relegation from the Conference North. Last season they came agonisingly close to climbing out the division, finishing second in the league table, before falling to Workington in the play-off semi-finals.

This season they have taken the division by storm, having led the way from the early stages. On Saturday they faced Halesowen Town at Croft Park knowing victory would seal promotion, which their large fan base craved.

With 1,167 in attendance, the Spartans romped to a 3-0 victory courtesy goals from Luke Armstrong, Sean Reid and substitute Adam Wrightson.

Former Premier League star and Blyth manager, Alun Armstrong was quick to praise former manager Tom Wade for his role in the promotion.  Wade had been the club's long-time manager before resigning in September after a run of bad results. The managerial role at Croft Park is Armstrong's first in the game, but he has only lost four games this campaign.

Promotion sees them move into the Conference North, just two divisions away from League Two. A new challenge now awaits with currently a string of former Football League sides in the higher division including Stockport County, Halifax and Darlington.

South Shields



South Shields have had a phenomenal season on and off the pitch. They recently reached the FA Vase final, but their other aim was to gain promotion from the Northern League.

The Northern League is notorious for being of a high standard. However, at this level, clubs do not have to accept promotion. Instead, teams finishing in the top three positions apply to move up a division. In the Northern League this season, South Shields were the highest placed to apply for promotion.

This meant victory at the weekend away to local and title rivals North Shields would seal a top-three finish. It would also ensure promotion for the second season in a row.

Well over 400 South Shields fans attended the all ticket encounter. They saw their side clinch a 1-0 win to seal promotion. It also moved them above North Shields to the top of the table.

Incredibly, it was Shields 31st victory in a row, an unofficial world record, before they added the 32nd win on Tuesday night at home to Marske.

The Mariners still have it all to play for as they look to seal the league title, as well as three cup competitions that they remain in.

As for next season, they move on up to the Evo-Stik Division One North, a division that fellow North East sides Spennymoor Town and Darlington have progressed through in recent years.
Simon Hahn

Lifelong sufferer following Darlington FC from League Two to the Northern League. Freelance Sports and data journalist. Living for 3pm on Saturday.


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