Saturday, August 29, 2009

Club focus -- Gateshead

Gateshead will play Cambridge at the shabby Abbey today and they certainly are a club with a chequered and interesting history.

The original Gateshead Football Club started life in Division 3 North in 1930 when South Shields folded, and they got off to a good start, in their second season they narrowly missed out on promotion to Lincoln City. However, they did miss out and then stabilised their position in Division 3 North.

Their finest moment probably came in 1953 when they reached the quarter finals of the FA Cup, narrowly losing 1-0 to a Nat Lofthouse goal for Bolton, after they had already beaten Liverpool in the 3rd round.

In 1958 Gateshead found themselves in the newly formed fourth division, after missing out on a place in the 3rd division by only one point. Just 2 years later they failed in an attempt to apply for re-election and were booted out of the league. They lost their place to Peterborough United in a move that seemed to have a lot more to do with their geographical disadvantages rather than footballing ability. One of their first reactions was to try and join the Scottish League, a move that didn't prove successful.

In 1968 Gateshead became founder members of the Northern Premier League. However, by 1973 they were somewhat bizzarely playing in the Midland League and eventually went out of existence. They were to be replaced by Gateshead Town and then Gateshead United, but by 1977 Gateshead was without a team.

In 1977/8 a new Gateshead club was formed and they started out life in the Northern Premier League. In 1983 they won promotion to the Conference, and then spent most of the 1980s yo-yoing between the Conference and the NPL. Two of their best seasons came in 1995 and 1996 when they finished 7th and 5th in the Conference. This was to be short-lived though as after financial difficulties they found themselves in the NPL North.

Gateshead have been bouncing back though and apart from plans to move from the ludicrous athletics stadium that they currently play at, which holds 11,850 people, successive promotions has seen them rise from the NPL to the Conference National, where they are playing this season.

In recentish years 2 of the most famous / infamous characters associated with Gateshead are Lawrie Mc.Menemy and Ali Dia, both of whom played for Gateshead and both of whom made a 'name' for themselves in the other end of the country at Southampton. Lawrie Mc.Menemy was the coach at Southampton during their most successful years, where as most fans would probably rather forget Ali Dia. Ali Dia was signed by Southampton by Graeme Souness and was made out to be the next George Weah, in fact he arrived in the Premier League with a letter of recommendation from Weah himself. However, either George was having a laugh or the letter was a fake, as Dia looked like he had never kicked a ball in his life. Dia also played in the North East at Gateshead and Blyth Spartans before disappearing into thin air.

The top picture shows Gateshead's badge which depicts 'the Angel of the North' a sculpture designed by Turner Prize Winner Antony Gormley in 1994 that is situated on the outskirts of Gateshead.

The second picture shows the original Gateshead's first kit, the current club where white shirts and black shorts.

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