Seaton Delaval Amateurs

Wheatridge Park
Saturday 19 November 2011
Kicks Leisure George Dobbins League Cup Third Round
Seaton Delaval Amateurs 2 Heaton Stannington 1

For a village of just 4,000 residents, Seaton Delaval, on the Northumbrian border with North Tyneside, has had its own little impact upon the footballing world. While the Charlton brothers from Ashington make claim to the most famous football siblings from the county, Delaval can equally claim a pair of England international brothers: the Stephensons.

Born in 1890, Clem Stephenson set on the trail of football stardom by joining Aston Villa, making his debut in 1910. After three runners-up medals in the First Division and two FA Cup winners medals, Clem moved north to Huddersfield Town. The legendary Herbert Chapman identified Clem as a key component of his team soon after taking over as manager, telling the Huddersfield board they the team needed “a general to lead them – and I know the man”. After another FA Cup winners medal in 1922, Clem won the league in 1923, 1924 and 1925, winning his only England cap in 1924 against Wales, before taking over as manager in 1929. To this day he is the club’s longest serving manager having held the job until 1942.

Clem’s younger brother by ten years, George, followed him to Aston Villa and made his debut in 1919 before moving to Derby County in 1927. After four England caps, he moved to Sheffield Wednesday, Preston North End and Charlton Athletic before taking the reigns at Huddersfield in 1947. He proved less successful than his elder brother, lasting five years in the role. Although not born in Delaval, George’s son, Bob, had an equally impressive sporting career, playing football for Derby, Shrewsbury Town and Rochdale before concentrating on cricket in 1967 and enjoying a long career at Hampshire which included winning the County Championship in 1973.

The England connection for Seaton Delaval doesn’t end with the Stephensons, though. Ray Kennedy, who won every domestic honour with Arsenal and Liverpool as well as 17 England caps, was also born in the village, though he played for nearby New Hartley Juniors as a child, once scoring 56 goals in a season as he once remembered in an emotional interview with the local Sunday Sun in 2002.

One of the elder statesmen of the Northern Alliance, Seaton Delaval have had a testing history at times since forming in 1920. Based just up the road from Whitley Bay, the club disbanded in 1968 before reforming back in the Alliance 1983, eleven years before they merged with Seaton Terrace FC. The golden years for the club were undoubtedly the 1990s when they lifted the Northern Alliance league title three times along with seven other Cup victories.

The Red Devils just survived last season. Not relegation, rather disbanding for a second time, due to having such a small committee. After the appointment of Michael Jeffels at the end of the season, the club managed to appoint six new committee members, three being part of a link with local junior side Seaton Dynamos, to safeguard their immediate future.

It’s not in the committee room where strides have taken. Jeffels, who replaced Nick Gray as manager, has had an extraordinary career himself. After setting the record for being the youngest player to appear in the Newcastle & District Under-18 league, he scored on his debut – aged just 9-years-old. By the time he was 24, Jeffels was managing Proctor & Gamble to a league title. Between these ages he had also turned professional at Ipswich Town before moving to Holland and FC Utrecht and then Belgium with KV Oostende.

As well as such a pedigree, Jeffels also has a proven track record of managing young talent, having watched over Michael Richardson at Walker Central before he turned professional in 2010 with Newcastle United, and the current Delaval squad has a number of young guns such as David Low, once of Queen of the South; and Abubakar Salim, who spent time on trial at Newcastle United and Bradford City last season, amongst others as scouts make regular visits to Wheatridge Park. A recent appointment to the managerial team at Delaval is ex-Gateshead, Newcastle Benfield and West Allotment Celtic manager Tom Wade, who replaced Phil Hildreth in the dugout after injury enforced early retirement for the player/assistant manager.

It was seventh versus top of the table as leader Heaton Stannington made the journey to Delaval, the fourth clash between the two sides already this season and the second game in seven days after a 1-1 league draw the previous Saturday. With such familiarity, it’s no wonder that the teams cancel each other out during the early stages, but Delaval found their rhythm first to enjoy long periods of first half pressure.

“Get up you diving f***ing c***” screams the full-back at the dangerman Salim after hoofing him up in the air again. With the gumshield wearing centre-back Daniel Thompson easily dealing with any Heaton Stan attack, it’s the visitors who actually come closest to opening the scoring as a deep cross curls against the bar. With a number of spectators watching from their cars behind the goal, Delaval take the lead when the number nine, Grant Kershaw, scarpers down the right wing and crosses to the back post where his strike partner, Paul Katz, gets between the two centre-halfs to poke the ball past the ‘keeper. With some Whitley Bay fans taking advantage of the 1.30pm kick-off, the crowd is reduced by a few by the time the second half starts with the Seahorses opening their FA Vase campaign at home.

Those spectators miss an improved showing by the Alliance leaders as the second half sees a lot more Heaton Stan pressure. Just after the hour mark, the visitors were rewarded for their positive play when a goalmouth scramble sees the ball cleared off the line only as far as Lee York who smashed in the equaliser. A melee following another crippling challenge on Salim saw Heaton reduced to ten men and then, with the window in the small stand still churning out proper mugs of hot drinks, and the tie looking as though it was heading to extra-time, midfield dynamo Daniel Maguire, who has had trials at both Newcastle and Carlisle United, popped the ball up towards the back post following a mazy run. Kershaw, the provider of the first goal, was on hand to head home and send the hosts into the next round and the holders out.

The old nineteenth century Northumbrian folk song, Blackleg Miner, a popular song over the years in an area of the country that was obliterated during the mining closures, has the line:

“Oh, Delaval is a terrible place,
They rub wet clay in the blackleg’s face” 

These days even strikebreakers would risk being chased out of the village to catch sight of the local, young team that’s so full of promise.

4 Responses to “Seaton Delaval Amateurs”
  1. Tom Wade says:

    Great report and enjoyed the history of the club.Never been involved with the Alliance league for a while and i am very impressed on the way the league is ran.Good standard of football and alot of good young players playing the game the right way and playing for the love of the game rather than the money.

    • Andy Hudson says:

      Hi Tom,

      Thanks for that – much appreciated, sir.

      You’re so right about the Alliance (not that I’d say the Northern League is so different). There are some fantastic clubs and people involved. I love the opportunity to see some real football where the lads are giving 100%. And for just a couple of quid (or one quid which also includes a programme at Delaval) to watch is tremendous.

      Am I right in thinking your son was battling away in midfield on Saturday after signing from Ryton (I think)?

      Best of luck for the rest of the season.


      • Tom Wade says:

        Yes it was our Matthew ,He has been to a few clubs on trial Birmingham ,leeds ,Barnsley and was at Motherwell for a season but like a lot of lads just did not get the breaks.Still just 19 and is enjoying it at Delaval .Playing in a young midfield all just 18-19 .keep up the good work ,

  2. Paul James says:

    iRemember playing here at Wheatridge Park in 1980 for New Hartley Jrns against Harlepool United in the FA Youth cup 2nd round Proper . Good luck Micky , committee, and team for seasons to come

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