Back of the net! Give us your memories of Wearside local league games in the 90s

The Hepworth and Grandage team in 1997.
The Hepworth and Grandage team in 1997.
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It was the starting point for many a talented footballer.

The local football leagues in Wearside saw players battle away bravely on behalf of their team.

Our team was considered by many to be one of the best local football sides at the time when such great characters and players blessed our league, many of which went on to play professional football

David Laidler

Whether it was muddy surfaces or bone hard pitches, it didn’t matter, nor that it was often on a Sunday morning.

We want your memories of the teams you played for and the highlights of your days as a keen winger, centre back, goalie or demon striker.

We’ve turned the clock back to 1997 to look at some of the teams and the players who made the Sunderland Echo local league headlines.

They include Railway Tavern, who won the Wearside Myers Heating Combination League Premier Division that year, with a last-game 1-1 draw with Belford House Reserves. Belford scored first through Phil O’Hare before Dean Matthews grabbed the second half Railway reply.

Their nearest rivals for the title were Saltgrass, who needed a victory in their own last match, but they too battled to a draw when they took on King Bros.

Other teams that year included Aquatic Sports, The Club, Brewery Tap, Grindon News and Video, and Dray & Horses.

And there was also Hepworth and Grandage, pictured, whose players included Paul Young, Colin Archbold, David Prest, Paul Robson and Graham Fox.

Do you recognise anyone in the photograph?

In the Jig Computers Durham Alliance League, Silksworth Oaks were one of the top teams as well as Simonside. Others in the league included Shotton Prince Bishops, Peterlee Hearts of Oak and Morrison Park. Give us your memories of any of these teams.

Our second photograph shows the Houghton Cricket Club football team, which played in the Vaux Blue Bell Over-40s league. Perhaps there are faces you recognise.

Others contesting that league included Dagmar, Fulwell, Wearmouth, Wheatley Hill, Grey Hen, Hylton Castle, Sunlight Jolly Bowman and Grindon.

We would love your memories on all of them.

Other leagues at the time included the IBS-Freemans JOC League where Hebburn A clinched the championship in emphatic style with an 11-2 win at third placed Wardley.

In the Palmer Cup, Lambton Street stormed into the final with a win over Hebburn A but Wanderers and Cleveland Hall had to reply after drawing 1-1. Who won the final that year?

Philadelphia were flying high in 1997 when they won their fourth consecutive promotion. A win over Durham City Big Jug in their next game would clinch the championship title. How did they do?

Seaham Rugby Club caused one of the upsets of the season in the Peterlee and District Sunday League when they defeated Seaham Youth Centre in the TY McGurk Cup final.

And what a result there was from South Hetton Cricket Club, who beat Old Shotton Black Bull 10-3 in the Premier Division.

Acre Rigg bounced back to winning ways with a 5-3 victory over Peterlee Dewhirst courtesy of goals from Beer with a brace, and from Garside, Stoker and Graham.

Give us all your memories of local league football and remind us of your highlights.

Did you score the winner in a cup final or save a vital penalty.

Or perhaps you just want to reflect on the great cameraderie.

David Laidler got in touch with us to say he played for Doxford Engineers in the 1970s and ’80s in the Wearside Combination League.

The team won league championships and “numerous league and charity cups before we ‘moved up’ to the Sunderland District League where again we won the league,” said David.

The side was considered by many to be one of the best local football sides at the time “when such great characters and players blessed our league, many of which went on to play professional football,” David added.

But David has a question. Does anyone have any photos of the Doxford Engineers team in its heyday.

If you can help, email