Dawdon Welfare Park could hardly have had a better season.
Last weekend’s 2-1 win over former champions Peterlee Helford United, with Kyle Bell and Paul Atkinson on target, saw them finish unbeaten in the Chilla Pizza Peterlee Sunday League’s Premier Division.
The league title, 17 wins in 18 games, complements success in three domestic knockout competitions - the John and Pat McManus Cup, the Tommy Burrell Cup and the Premier Division Cup.
Dawdon’s director of football, Paul Welch, puts the impressive campaign down to an “unbreakable” team spirit.
He said: “The major success story of the whole season comes down to the team spirit.
“The whole team, from players, to management, to medic have all had an unbreakable bond this season.
“We have a WhatsApp group called ‘get it and give it’ in which all the players have daily banter, make up songs and upload videos and photos, and this has been a contributing factor to the team spirit.”
Asked about the secret of Dawdon’s success, Welch added: “A lot must be attributed to the managers Kevin Dixon, Ash Tashville and previously Kevin Knight.
“There no nonsense approach to the game has had a big influence on the players, along with the simple football philosophy of ‘get it and give it’.
“Along with the managers, we’ve also had great support from our FA-trained medic, Steven Guy, who has helped to keep the lads fit and injury free.
“We must also thank Seaham Town Council for allowing us to play on the fantastic Green Drive pitch and credit must go to Ryan Consitt, who comes up to the pitch early before each game to shovel off the dog mess.
“I do all the organisation behind the scenes and keep the club running. I might not be the best director of football in the league, but I’m certainly in the top one!”
Dawdon finished 14 points clear at the top of the table, and Welch saluted the all-round depth of the squad.
“The whole squad have been fantastic, so its hard to single out out specific players, but our forwards of Robbie Bird, Kyle Bell, Paul Atkinson and Wess Smith have scored 108 goals between them and deserve a lot of credit,” he said.
“They wouldn’t have scored half of those goals if it wasn’t for assists from Craig Price, Anthony Atkinson, Andy Beer and Marc Taylor, who are all in the 30s now but have shown this season that class is permanent and form is temporary.
“Then there’s been our rock solid defence, who have only conceded 44 goals in 35 games.
“Jack Walker, Craig Mcmanus, Nick Milburn, Thomas Price, Ryan Marshall and our goalkeeper, Stu McBeth, must all take credit for keeping it tight at the back.
“Club captain Jack Walker moved from Tyneside to Seaham at the start of the season, so there was a struggle with the language barrier at first, but he has adapted well to the Mackem lingo.”
The only disappointments for Dawdon came in their only two defeats, in the FA Sunday Cup and the Durham Sunday Cup.
Welch added: “The stand-out games have to be our three cup final wins, especially the J&P McManus Cup final win.
“This competition is named after our defender Craig McManus’s grandparents and it was the first time he lifted the trophy this season, so that was a very special moment.
“As for goals of the season, we’ve scored 150 in all competitions so it’s hard to pick just a few, but the most memorable ones are Robbie Bird’s rabona, Paul Atkinson’s bicycle kick, Craig Price’s shinned volley and Liam Hodgson’s cup final screamer.”
Peterlee Catholic Club completed a double to end the season in style, adding the First Division Cup to their title success.
In the final, they outgunned Easington Welfare 4-2 in an entertaining clash, with David “Busta” Paul firing a superb hat-trick, while Paul Wintrip also notched and Jack Monaghan was man of the match.
Josh Lincoln and Stuart Harbottle replied for Welfare, whose star was Andrew Cook
Peterlee Catholic finished six points clear of fellow promoted side Easington HMS Victory as they sealed the First Division title, with Shotton Builders Warehouse three points further back.
Liam Wintrip hit four goals as Catholic hammered Horden Cricket Club 7-0 in their final game, backed by Paul Wintrip (2) and David Paul.
HMS Victory finished off with a disappointing performance, losing 6-1 to Shotton Builders Warehouse.
Tony Hewitt and Michael Boardman notched doubles, with Craig Worthy and Bradley Beeston completing the scoring. Nathan Graham struck for Victory.
FC Peterlee Moorcock and Horden Cricket Club are relegated to the Second Division.