Alnwick Town pick up a league double

Alnwick Town FC news and match reports.
Alnwick Town FC news and match reports.

Alnwick Town did the double at a football awards dinner last night.

The club picked up two awards at the annual Ebac Northern League event.

Town’s Robert McKie was highly commended in the Unsung Hero category.

Northern League chairman Mike Amos told the full-house audience how Robert does everything around St James’s Park, from providing the full-time food and doing the laundry to ferrying the club secretary to and from games, a round trip of around 100 miles.

“A wonderful guy,” said Mike.

Alnwick also won third place in the Second Division Fair Play league, which brought with it a cheque for £400.

Fourteen clubs shared a £5,000 prize pot in the Fair Play league, compiled on yellow and red cards, after flawless administration during the season.

The annual dinner marked the end of a hugely successful season for the world’s second oldest league, in which North Shields won the FA Vase at Wembley – the sixth time in seven seasons that a Northern League side has won the national competition – and Marske United won the first division title after the most thrilling title race in memory.

Striker Paul Brayson won an Ebac Northern League double – collecting the awards for Player of the Year and leading First Division goal scorer.

Brayson, the Newcastle Benfield striker, scored 42 league goals, plus a further seven in other competitions.

“His enthusiasm for the game is still a great role model for the younger lads,” said a club spokesman.

He made one senior appearance for Newcastle United – a League Cup tie – and had loan spells with Swansea and Cardiff before signing for Reading for £100,000. He won one England C cap while with Northwich Victoria.

Consett’s former Hartlepool United striker Michael McKay was second in the First Division scoring charts with 36, followed by Michael Chilton (Morpeth Town) and Jamie Owens (Marske United) both on 28.

Channon North’s 40 goals for Hebburn Town won him the Second Division award, followed just one goal behind by Mark Davison and on 33 by Mark’s Washington team mate Chris Winn.

Michael Sweet. runner-up in the Player of the Year voting, was named the league’s Young Player of the Year after hitting 28 goals for relegated Billingham Synthonia. The total included five in each of two successive games.

Craig Gott, of Marske United, was third in the Player of the Year voting; Seaham Red Star’s 19-year-old midfielder Lewis Wing and Dan Halliday of Dunston UTS were second and third in the Young Player frame.

The league also presented awards to the backroom brigade, including Alan Matthews – chairman of FA Vase-winning North Shields – for his outstanding contribution to the league in 2014-15.

Alan, at the North Shields helm for almost 20 years, won the Arthur Clark award.

North Shields completed a treble when team manager Graham Fenton was named manager of the year – narrowly ahead of Carl Jarrett, who led Marske United to the league championship – and prolific striker Gareth Bainbridge was named the BBC Newcastle Player of the Year. Gareth had been the league’s player of the year last season.

Backed by a standing ovation, West Auckland secretary Allen Bayles took the Unsung Hero award after 25 years with the club.

Whitley Bay club shop manager Doug Parker – another who does much more than the job title suggests – won a highly commended award.

South Shields won the Tea Hut award, sponsored by Co-op Funeral Care, despite playing all ‘home’ matches at Peterlee, 20 miles away. The Mariners return to their former home on south Tyneside in 2015-16.

Heaton Stannington won the award for the league’s most hospitable club, sponsored by the Ramside Hall Hotel.

Salvers for the highest average marks in the league’s highly successful Secret Shopper initiative – chiefly aimed at tackling offensive language – were presented to Hebburn Town and to Stokesley Sports Club.

West Allotment Celtic’s programme, edited by Craig Dobson, was named programme of the year. Keven Howe won the Silver Whistle award for the top referee in the Second Division.

In the Fair Play league, Guisborough Town took top money in the First Division and Ryton and Crawcrook Albion in the second.

Special presentations were made to Tony Golightly, league secretary for almost 24 years until he stood down in October, and to Canon Leo Osborn, retiring after 18 years as league chaplain.

The awards were presented by Lord Pendry of Stalybridge, president of the Football Foundation, and by Ebac Ltd chairman John Elliott.