Wearside League season so far: Silksworth looking to clinch their best ever finish

Silksworth CW (red) take on Prudhoe Town earlier this month. Picture by Craig Leng

Silksworth CW (red) take on Prudhoe Town earlier this month. Picture by Craig Leng

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Silksworth CW’s target for 2017 is to maintain their top-four place in the TWR Bifolds Wearside League – and secure their highest ever finish.

They had hopes of more silverware, following last season’s Durham Trophy triumph, but they can concentrate on the league solely now, as they are out of all six cup competitions they entered.

Dean Randall, at centre-half, has been outstanding this season and, with Steven Moody and Adam Storey up front, Silksworth have found goals more forthcoming this term.

So Silksworth will continue to develop their young players and look, in boss Andrew Stobbart’s first season in level 7 football, to plan for next season.

Stobbart, a talented young manager ably assisted by Willie Crew and Michael Curtis, has shown he is ready to take Silksworth onwards. With the backing of chairman Philip Tye, a respected member of the Wearside League senior management team, Silksworth’s off-the-field activities are in good hands.

Ashbrooke Belford House have had a mixed season so far, though their slow start could be attributed to the fact that 15 new players have come in, but they are starting to gel now and have had some great results of late, beating second-top Jarrow 2-0 and South Shields Reserves 3-0 away.

They are also in the Durham Trophy semi-finals, and head to Coxhoe Athletic for the big game on February 7.

Among their outstanding players this season have been 18-year-old Harry Graham, who is in his first season in adult football, ever-reliable club captain Nathan Burrell, 21-year-old midfielder Josh Farquhar and left-back Kieron Stokoe.

The future is bright at the club as the squad’s average age is only 23. This season has been a massive learning curve for the young lads and they hope to maintain a top-10 finish and dream of Durham Trophy glory.

A big factor in their recent good form is the step-up to assistant manager of ex-player Stuart Burton, who has played a massive role in the team’s development.

Sunderland West End are 11th in the league, but they have several games in hand on all the teams above them.

Barry Cook’s men have the ambition to make a big leap forward, though, and they cannot be ruled out of a top-six finish.

Boldon CA are in two semi-finals and sit fifth in the league – good signs of progress for boss Paul Mossa, who was appointed at the start of last season with a three-year plan to win promption to the Northern League.

In his first year, he won the Shipowners’ Cup and secured a 10th-place finish, and things are going so well this season that the club have applied for promotion this season, one year ahead of the plan, as the club will be celebrating 125 years at the start of next campaign, having been formed in 1892.

Twin centre-halves Aron Burn and Jonny Gage have enjoyed a fine season together, while Oliver Bone and Neal Crammon have proved able deputies.

The news that club captain Jack Lawton has started light running on his damaged ankle, and could be fit by the end of January, is a big boost to the club.

Table-topping Richmond Town’s season so far has surpassed all expectations.

The Yorkshire club expected to be third or fourth and in with a shout of winning the league at this stage of the season, yet they are still in four cup competitions and recently leapfrogged long-time front-runners Jarrow into pole position in the table.

Their stand-out player so far must be captain and centre-forward Scott Ryan, who has already scored 40 goals, however it’s been a tremendous team effort so far.

The club’s aim is to win the league, but they acknowledge it is a tough ask as Redcar Athletic and Jarrow will push them all the way.

Wolviston’s Keith Simpson suggests that the season to date is a very fair reflection with them sitting second from bottom of the league which is quite a change from years ago, when they were regularly one of the top six teams in the league.”

“All our players are from local football and the local area and therefore even though they can turn out a full complement each game, the quality that is needed in this league is badly missing.”

“The outstanding players this season to date are, club captain and defender Shaun Gregory (who is the oldest and longest serving player), striker Junior Masandi who is our leading scorer in a struggling team and is also the interest of a lot of bigger clubs. Keeper Chris Davidson without whom we would have probably conceded twice the amount of goals and midfielder and youngest player on the books, Robbie Grafton who looks like a 12-year-old (according to Keith Simpson!) and plays like a seasoned professional, creating most of our chances.”

“Aspirations would be to finish out of the bottom two and in a more respectable position, but most likely we will be one of the bottom ten teams.”

They have a small Committee of four and desperately need a Secretary along with new committee members but are finding people very reluctant to volunteer and along with Wolviston Cricket Club we are presently planning a few applications for grant money to refurbish the clubhouse in the form of decorating, new carpets, tables, and chairs etc.

Cleator Moor Celtic manager Dene White stated: “The league table doesn’t lie and we are currently 14th, but have played fewer games than anyone else and the second half of the season in 2017 is going to be tough.”

“In the past four seasons, we have been up there challenging and we showed what we are capable of in October when we beat a very good Carlisle United team at Brunton Park in the Cumberland Cup, but since then we’ve struggled to get a run of games and since the beginning of November we have only played two games due to the weather in Cumbria has meant games were postponed.”

“It’s a massive commitment from my lads to play in the Wearside League, we have to travel away 18 times a year as a minimum and more if we’re drawn away in cup games. Teams must travel to us once a year (maybe twice if they get us away in cup games) and in some of those cases some fail to field teams, we’ve never not fulfilled a fixture away in my time (5 seasons).”

“Our season has been stop/start and given players shift patterns, not all are regularly available. What I will say is this, we have a fantastic junior set-up and some young lads (U16s last season) are now experiencing open age football in the Wearside League and are doing very well.”

“I would like to get a run of games together in the league with our strongest possible team and see where it takes us and it’s vital for us that we remain in as many cup competitions as possible and like the last two seasons, try to reach a final or two.”

“Around the club, the committee members are constantly working to try and bring the ground up to Northern League standards and our ambition is to play at the next level, but that isn’t all about ground and club improvements. We must get the work on the field right first.”

Windscale’s Joe Shepherd said: “They say the table doesn’t lie, so sitting in 18th place is where we deserve to be, but like every other team in the league we probably think we should be a place or two higher. At the start of the season I personally was under no illusion that it would be a difficult first season back in the league after a five-year absence and many of our players have had a rude awakening.”

“As a club our aim was for around twelfth to sixteenth place to give us something to build on and that remains our goal, as, after drawing away and beating promotion hopefuls Redcar at home and drawing at home to leaders Richmond Town, the team has proved that there is potential to compete at this level. Players that have looked comfortable at this standard are striker Reece Fretwell and midfielder Darren Donald, while Ray Sempill and Laurie Black have shown they too can hold their own in the middle of the park.”

“Youngsters Jordan Livingstone and Jordan Bowness season’s will be good experience for their development.”

“With the playing surface, the envy of many a club, the next phase is to redevelop the ageing dugouts and after our floodlights recently failed in a cup tie against Whitehaven, we are currently engaged in securing funding to get them working again.”