Teams to reunite in honour of league founders

Deneside United pictured at the end of one season.
Deneside United pictured at the end of one season.
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Players who first took to the pitch as youngsters in a league set up during the miners’ strike will reunite this weekend.

Seaham Neighbourhood Football League was set up in the late 1970s for six to 11-year-olds and became an integral part of bringing the community together during the industrial dispute during the 1984-85 strike.

Milldale Saints pictured with one of their shields.

Milldale Saints pictured with one of their shields.

Teams continued to play until the 1990s, with matches held at fields at schools in Westlea, Ropery Walk, Nortlea and Deneside among others on both Saturdays and Sundays, with finals hosted at Seaham Red Star.

Now those who appeared for sides in the Saturday and Sunday morning fixtures will take part in a game in honour of Freddy Chapman, who died last year and founded the league with Gordon Banks, with referees Malcolm Langley and Women’s FA Cup Final referee Rebecca Welch to officiate.

Up to three games will be played at Seaham Leisure Centre on Saturday, with the first kick off at 1pm, with the winning team to lift the Freddy Chapman Cup, which has been sponsored by Eco Cleaning Services boss Nigel Taylor.

It will be followed by an evening of entertainment at The Knack Club in Eastlea, which will feature an auction of items including a signed Sunderland short and a disco.

The more people who turn out, the more money we will raise.

Steve Pyburn

All money raised will go to Macmillan.

The event has been organised by Steve Pyburn, a one time Deneside United player, who is now a support worker for ESPA, which supports youngsters with autism in Sunderland.

The 42-year-old said: “I just started thinking about how these guys during the pit strike and how they got teams together when all that was going on.

“Many people who could have gone down the wrong path in life were helped and I don’t think that was recognised enough at the time.

One cohort of Deneside All Stars.

One cohort of Deneside All Stars.

“We’ve had great support from our sponsors.

“The more people who turn out, the more money we will raise.”

The event at the leisure centre will also feature a bouncy castle, face painting, hot dogs and ice cream, with the games expected to come to a close at 4pm.

Westlea Wanders collect one of their trophies won in the league.

Westlea Wanders collect one of their trophies won in the league.

Steve Pyburn has organised the event.

Steve Pyburn has organised the event.

Eastlea Spartans celebrate a victory.

Eastlea Spartans celebrate a victory.

Freddy Chapman, pictured in his own playing days.

Freddy Chapman, pictured in his own playing days.