BUNCH OF FIVES: Jon Tait | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Sports writer Jon Tait’s new book Rebels is a chronicle of Northumberland football, looking at its interesting development in the North East. Tait explores themes of home, generations, and identity around the game in a work that provides a background to the long-gone rural Northern FA as well as taking in games around the local grounds in season 2023/24.

His Bunch of Fives explores five of the main clubs who were involved in the Northern FA breakaway from the Northumberland FA in 1888 due to the rising power of the Tyneside sides in the organisation. Get a copy of his book here.

Blyth FC

Blyth FC went on to become Blyth Spartans – dubbed ‘Britain’s most famous non-League club’ after they reached the fifth round of the FA Cup in 1978. The green and whites were relegated from the National League North at the end of the season and will be competing against neighbours Morpeth in season 2024/25. With new ownership at the helm of the Croft Park side, fans are waiting to see what changes chairman Irfan Liaquat implements at the club.

Morpeth Harriers

Now Morpeth Town who play in the Northern Premier League Premier Division. ‘Most grounds we go to are in the middle of a housing estate – this one feels like it’s in the middle of a Centre Parcs,’ my son said perceptively on a visit to watch the Highwaymen. He’s not wrong. The woods surrounding Craik Park give it a totally different feel to most North-East stadiums. Morpeth lifted the FA Vase at Wembley in 2016.

Berwick Rangers

The only English team to play in Scotland are currently in the Lowland League. The black and golds most famous hour came went they sent the mighty Glasgow Rangers crashing out of the Scottish Cup at Shielfield in 1967. 

Ashington

Reluctant rebels Ashington joined the other Northern FA sides after remaining with the Northumberland for the first season. The Colliers played in the Football League in the 1920s and are in the Northern Premier League East today. 

Shankhouse Black Watch

Black Watch were the leading side in the North East during the early development of the game in the area and it was them, along with Morpeth, who led the doomed breakaway from the Northumberland FA. The FA in London refused to recognise the Northern and pressure from Tyneside saw the organisation fold after two seasons. Shankhouse Black Watch folded from the Northern Alliance in 2021. 

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