For the first time this is a compiled record of the 1977/78 FA Cup run.
Match reports and details from every game. In depth player profiles and all the stats & facts from that famous cup run.
The stats & facts:
• The run lasted 164 days, starting on the 17th September 1977 and ending on 27th February 1978.
• Blyth played 11 games; winning 8, drawing 2 and losing 1.
• There were 6 away games and 5 homes games (including the SJP replay).
• Of the 10 clubs faced in the run only 2 were ‘first time’ opposition, Blyth had previously not played Burscough and Chesterfield.
• 2 replays were needed both at home; Crook Town in the 2nd Qual. Round and Wrexham in the 5th Round.
• 8 games were played on a Saturday:
(Shildon, Crook Town, Consett, Bishop Auckland, Burscough, Chesterfield, Enfield & Wrexham).
2 were played on a Monday (Stoke City and the Wrexham replay)
1 was played on a Tuesday (Crook Town replay).
• 3 games were postponed; Stoke away twice 27th January & 1st Feb and Wrexham replay on 21st February.
• The 11 games had 3 different kick off times; 2pm, 3pm & 7.30pm:
2pm kick off: Chesterfield at home & Enfield at home.
3pm kick offs: Shildon away, Crook away, Consett away, Bishop Auckland away, Burscough home, Wrexham away.
7.30pm kick offs: Crook replay home, Stoke City away, Wrexham home (@ SJP).
• Blyth were drawn away in all 4 Qualifying Round: Shildon, Crook, Consett & Bishop Auckland.
• Blyth played on 8 different ground during the run:
Dean Street, Shildon.
Millfield Ground, Crook.
Belle Vue Ground Consett.
Kingsway Ground, Bishop Auckland.
Croft Park, Blyth.
Victoria Ground, Stoke.
Racecourse Ground, Wrexham.
St James’ Park, Newcastle.
• 20 goals were scored and 7 conceded.
• 9 goals were scored in the first half and 11 in the second half.
• 5 goals were conceded in the fist half and 2 in the second half.
• Player Manager Brian Slane scored the first goal of cup run at Shildon in 1st Qual. and Terry Johnson scored the last in the 5th Round Replay at St James’ Park.
• Terry Johnson was top scorer with 7 goals.
• 7 different players scored the 20 goals:
Brian Slane, Terry Johnson, Rob Carney, Steve Jones, Ron Guthrie, Ian Mutrie, Alan Shoulder & Steve Carney.
• 2 sets of brother featured in the run:
Rob & Steve Carney for Blyth and Brian & David Newton played for Crook Town in the 2nd Qual. Round.
• 2 penalties were conceded:
1 was saved by Dave Clarke in the 3-0 2nd Qual. Round replay win over Crook Town at Croft Park the other scored by Wrexham’s Graham Whittle at SJP.
• Blyth were only ever behind 3 times were in the 11 games played:
Crook in 2nd Qual., Stoke in 4th Round and 5th Round replay at SJP.
• Blyth won 6 ties without conceding.
• 4 consecutive ties were won 1-0:
Bishop Auckland, Burscough, Chesterfield & Enfield.
• The goals in the 1-0 1st, 2nd and 3rd Round home victories over Burscough, Chesterfield and Enfield were all scored at the same end of Croft Park.
• 3 players were sent off in the 11 games:
Mick Sullivan of Enfield in the 3rd Round, Steve Carney & John Lyons of Wrexham in 5th Round game at the Racecourse Ground.
• Only 4 players started every game:
Dave Clarke, Ron Guthrie, Tommy Dixon & Ronnie Scott.
• Dave Varty was most used substitute, coming off the bench 5 times.
• 17 different players were used in the 11 games:
Dave Clarke – 11
Ron Guthrie – 11
Ronnie Scott – 11
Tommy Dixon – 11
John Waterson – 10
Rob Carney – 10*
Terry Johnson – 10 + 1 sub
Eddie Alder – 7
Mick Dagless – 6
Keith Houghton – 6
Dave Varty – 5 + 5 subs
Brian Slane – 5
Steve Jones – 4 + 2 subs
Steve Carney – 4 + 1 sub
Alan Shoulder – 4
Ian Mutrie – 3 + 1 sub
Gordon Catterall – 1 + 1 sub
*Rob Carney missed out on playing in every single game due to being unavailable for the 2nd Qualifying Round 1-1 draw Crook Town because he was best man at a wedding.
Back Row L to R –
Jackie Marks (Assistant Manager/Coach), Rob Carney, John Waterson, Ian Mutrie, Tommy Dixon, Keith Houghton, Ronnie Scott, Mick Dagless, Terry Day, Brian Slane (Player/Manager) Pat Smith (Physio)
Front Row L to R –
Alan Shoulder, Eddie Alder, Terry Johnson, Dave Addison, Dave Clarke, Ron Guthrie, Steve Jones, Dave Varty, Steve Carney.
*2 players in the above picture never featured in the cup run.
Dave Addison was reserve keeper and Gerry Day was a striker.
Addison had played in 76/77 several times as cover for then keeper Mick Morgan while Day joined in summer of 77 and made several appearances as a sub that season.
• 8 players were in their first season with the club:
Dave Clarke, Ron Guthrie, Dave Varty, Rob Carney, Steve Carney, Keith Houghton, Alan Shoulder, Terry Johnson.
• 2 players were signed during the run: Keith Houghton from Gateshead in November and Alan Shoulder from Bishop Auckland in December.
• 1 player left during the run: Gordon Catterall joined Whitby Town in November.
• 4 Different style of tops were worn in the 11 games:
– Green & white stripes with green V and collar against Shildon, Crook, Consett, Bishops, Chesterfield & Enfield.
– White shirts with green collar & cuffs against Burscough
– Green body & white sleeves Bukta kit at Stoke
– Green & White stripes with Bukta trim on arms at Wrexham and in replay at SJP.
Match reports and details of every game:
1st Qualifying Round – Saturday 17th September 1977
Shildon 0 Blyth Spartans 3
Goals: Brian Slane, Terry Johnson, Rob Carney
Team: Dave Clarke, Dave Varty, Ron Guthrie, Eddie Alder, Ronnie Scott, Tommy Dixon, Gordon Catterall, Terry Johnson, Brian Slane, Mick Dagless, Rob Carney.
Sub: Steve Jones
Bryan Dale, Dave Vickers, Neil Stewart, Mel Heckley, Billy Willis, Kenny Morton, Geoff Reed, John Ord, Bobby Nixon, Paul Main, Allan Forster.
Sub: Bobby Walker
Ref: D.W. Bodley
Blyth set off on their now legendary cup run with a comfortable victory.
It was the first time in 6 seasons the club had entered the competition so early having lost their ‘exemption’ due successive 4th Qualifying Round defeats in the two previous seasons. Spartans had beat the Railwaymen 4-1 at Croft Park in the Northern League only 4 days earlier. Brian Slane & Terry Johnson had both scored in the midweek victory and tormented Shildon once again.
Blyth took a first half lead when Brian Slane fired home from a Ron Guthrie free kick.
Terry Johnson made it 0-2 in the second half rounding the keeper to score after a great build up. The third came from midfielder Rob Carney who netted his 6th goal of the season having been played in by Johnson he calmly beat the home keeper to complete a comfortable victory at Dean Street.
2nd Qualifying Round – Saturday 8th October 1977
Crook Town 1 Blyth Spartans 1
Goal: Steve Jones
Team: Dave Clarke, John Waterson, Ron Guthrie, Eddie Alder, Ronnie Scott, Tommy Dixon, Steve Jones, Terry Johnson, Brian Slane, Mick Dagless, Dave Varty.
Sub: Gordon Cattrell.
Crook Town team:
Dave Pollard, Lol Riley, Mal Owens, Brian Newton, Charles Gott, Charles Morrison, Willie White, Malcolm Newton, Stewart Ogden, Jimmy Suggett, David Newton.
Sub: Paul Bailes.
2nd Qualifying Round Replay – Tuesday 11th October 1977
Blyth Spartans 3 Crook Town 0
Goals; Terry Johnson, Ron Guthrie, Rob Carney
Team: Dave Clarke, John Waterson, Ron Guthrie, Eddie Alder, Ronnie Scott, Tommy Dixon, Steve Jones, Terry Johnson, Brian Slane, Mick Dagless, Rob Carney.
Sub: Dave Varty.
Crook Town team:
Dave Pollard, Lol Riley, Mal Owens, Brian Newton, Charles Gott, Charles Morrison, Willie White, Malcolm Newton, Stewart Ogden, Jimmy Suggett, David Newton.
Sub: Paul Bailes.
Blyth earned a replay after coming from behind to draw 1-1 at the Millfield Ground thanks to a 2nd half Steve Jones headed equaliser. A 3rd Qual. Round tie at Consett awaited the replay winners.
3 days later Blyth ran out comfortable 3-0 winners in the replay thanks to goals from Rob Carney, Terry Johnson and Ron Guthrie.
Spartans stormed into a 3-0 lead after only 25 minutes, Terry Johnson headed Blyth in front. In the 15th minute it was 2-0 when Ron Guthrie scored this first goal for the club. From a free kick 20 yards out Mick Dagless rolled it into the path of Guthrie who curled a superb shot in into the top corner. Crook Town were then given a way back into the game with the award of a penalty. However their Player/Manager Brian Newton saw his spot kick saved by Dave Clarke, diving down to his left to palm the shot away. Spartans then made Crook pay when Johnson and Dagless combined to set up Rob Carney, the midfielder fired home off the under side of the bar from 18 yards out his 7th goal of the season.
3rd Qualifying Round – Saturday 22nd October 1977
Consett 1 Blyth Spartans 4
Goals: Terry Johnson, Mick Dagless, Brian Slane, Steve Jones.
Team: Dave Clarke, John Waterson, Ron Guthrie, Eddie Alder, Ronnie Scott, Tommy Dixon, Steve Jones, Terry Johnson, Brian Slane, Mick Dagless, Rob Carney.
Sub: Dave Varty for Alder.
Consett team: Trevor Dixon-Cave, Stephen Teasdale, John Simpson, Gordon Hindson, Peter Bragan, Brian Richardson, Terry Breen, Watts Stelling, David Rutherford, Malcolm Wood, Kevin Cross.
Sub: Lawrence Graham.
Blyth beat Consett 4-1 away with goals from Terry Johnson, Mick Dagless, Brian Slane, & Steve Jones.Spartans cup run was now gathering pace as they convincingly beat the Steelmen for the 3rd time so far that season. The two league meetings had seen a 4-1 away in the league in August and 2-1 at Croft Park at the beginning of the October.
Blyth led 2-1 at half time, Johnson had made it 1-0 then Dagless added a second before Malcolm Wood pulled one back for the home side. Second half efforts from Brian Slane & Jos Jones saw Blyth comfortably through to the next round.
*His goal at Belle Vue Park that afternoon turned out to be Brian Slane’s 20th and last ever FA Cup goal of the club.
4th Qualifying Round – Saturday 5th November 1977
Bishop Auckland 0 Blyth Spartans 1
Goal: Ian Mutrie.
Team: Dave Clarke, John Waterson, Ron Guthrie, Dave Varty, Ronnie Scott, Tommy Dixon, Rob Carney, Terry Johnson Brian Slane, Mick Dagless, Ian Mutrie.
Sub: Steve Jones.
Bishop Auckland team: Tim Saward, Jimmy McDonald, Dave Rutherford, Alan Watson, Kenny Hills, Phil Shute, Ray Young, Steve Hunter, Malcolm Leask, Kenny Parker, Allan Young.
Sub: Howard Trotter.
Ref: D W Bodley
Ian Mutrie’s winner was enough to see Blyth into the 1st Round for the first time in 3 years.
The sides had last met in the cup 11 years earlier, that epic 1st Round tie took 4 games to separate the sides.
It was the toughest game of the run so far, played in torrential rain both sides fought the conditions in front of a surprisingly low 920 crowd. The breakthrough came in the 76th minute when Ian Mutrie lost his marker to get on the end of a Varty cross and head home. The game ended in controversy with Bishop adamant they had equaliser.
After a fourth successive corner an almighty goalmouth scramble ensued. Defender Rutherford fired a shot goal wards, Tommy Dixon blocked it and Ron Guthrie cleared it off the line. The Bishop players claimed it was in and the linesman initially indicated it was by raising his flag before lowering it!.
The ref didn’t give the goal and the Bishops players chased after him as play went on. Bishop’s manager Bob Elwell even claimed he could see it was in from the dugout on the half way line!.
* Bishop’s manager Bob Elwell had played for the Spartans before going into management and in 1981 he would be appointed Blyth manager when Jackie Marks stepped down.
* Brian Slane had played the 1972/73 season at Bishops before returning to Croft Park.
* 3 former Spartans played for Bishops in this game: Alan Watson, Ray Young, Allan Young.
1st Round – Saturday 26th November 1977
Blyth Spartans 1 Burscough 0
Goal: Ian Mutrie
Dave Clarke, John Waterson, Ron Guthrie, Keith Houghton, Tommy Dixon, Ronnie Scott, Eddie Alder, Mick Dagless, Ian Mutrie, Steve Carney, Rob Carney.
Sub: Terry Johnson
Burscough team: Mike Lawson, John Moran, Vinny McGrady, Andy Clarke, Alan Bowen, Graham Glover, Tony Shallcross, John Durnin, Billy Jaycock, Ronny Madine, Larry Garrity.
Sub: Ian Appleyard.
Blyth won 1-0 thanks to this goal from Ian Mutrie which sent then into the 2nd Round for the 9th time in the club’s history.
It was the first ever meeting of the two clubs and only the 2nd time in their history that the Cheshire League side had reached the 1st Round.
They had done so with an impressive 1-0 away win at Morecambe in their 4th Qual. replay which coach Jackie Marks had driven over to Lancashire to watch.
Archie’s 8th goal of the season came in the 68th minute when he collected a defence splitting pass from Mick Dagless before slotting past the advancing keeper.
A 2,500 crowd also saw Keith Houghton’s debut for the Spartans, he had signed night before from Gateshead. Manager Brian Slane put him straight into the midfield alongside Alder and Dagless having received permission from the British Police team to allow him to play.
*It was Burscough who wore their first choice kit that day, they arrived with their first choice kit of solid green shirts. Blyth wore their old white shirts with green trimmings to avoid their green stripes clashing with Burscough’s green tops.
*Keith Houghton had been named in the British Police side for a Northern Combination Cup Quarter Final to be played on the same day but was given special permission to play for Blyth instead.
2nd Round – Saturday 17th December 1977
Blyth Spartans 1 Chesterfield 0
Goal: Steve Jones
Dave Clarke, John Waterson, Ron Guthrie, Eddie Alder, Ronnie Scott, Tommy Dixon, Steve Jones, Terry Johnson, Ian Mutrie, Keith Houghton, Rob.Carney.
Sub: Dave Varty.
Chesterfield team: Glan Letheran, Colin Tartt, Ken Burton, Andy Kowalski, John Cottam, Sean O’Neill, Steve Cammack, Rod Fern, Gary Simpson, Bil Dearden, Ricky Heppolette.
Sub: Les Hunter.
This goal from Steve Jones give Blyth a 1-0 win over 3rd Division Chesterfield.
The 31st minute goal put the Spartans into 3rd Round for only the 2nd time in the club’s history.
Blyth had gone into the tie with injury worries, Mick Dagless was ruled out with an injury that was to keep him sidelined until mid January. Mutrie & Johnson played but both were carry ‘knocks’. Alder & Guthrie both played despite suffering from the flu. Despite having made a goal scoring debut the week before Alan Shoulder wasn’t allowed to play due to ‘red tape’ issue with the Northern League.
Struggling Chesterfield had only won once away from home all season, their first game of the season. They started well and had the better chances early on, the best of all fell to Fern but Clarke produced a superb one hand finger tip save to deny his goal bound effort. In 31st minute Rob Carney’s long ball down the channel put the full back under pressure. Burton raced back towards his own goal looking to play it back to his keeper but Steve Jones nipped in and prodded the ball past the advancing Letheran and into the empty goal. It was Jos’s 16th goal for the Spartans in only his 21st appearance!.
Chesterfield started the second half strongly but were unable to break down the resolute Blyth defence, just when it looked like they were running out of ideas a rare Clarke mistake handed them a chance. With 11 minute left Clarke uncharacteristically dropped a corner at the feet of forward Ferns but as he swung to step the ball over the line Tommy Dixon somehow managed to deflect it away. It was their last meaningful effort and when the ref blew for full-time the 3,700 crowd surged into the pitch to celebrate.
Chesterfield manager Arthur Cox went into the Blyth dressing room afterwards to congratulate the players on their hard-earned but deserved victory.
*Having played in the first ever Blyth side to reach the FA Cup 3rd Round, Brian Slane had taken them back to the 3rd Round as manager only 5 years later.
* When left back Ron Guthie played in Sunderland’s 1973 FA Cup Final win Chesterfield boss Arthur Cox was Sunderland’s assistant manager.
3rd Round – Saturday 7th January 1978
Blyth Spartans 1 Enfield 0
Goal: Alan Shoulder
Team: Dave Clarke, John Waterson, Ron Guthrie, Dave Varty, Ronnie Scott, Tommy Dixon, Alan Shoulder, Keith Houghton, Terry Johnson, Ian Mutrie, Rob Carney.
Sub: Steve Carney for Mutrie.
Enfield team: Terry Moore, Mark Wright, John Tone, Ronnie Howell, Tony Jennings, Keith Elley, Tony Bass, Keith Searle, John Bishop, Micky O’Sullivan, Derek Baker.
Ref: Ken Walsley.
Spartans reached the FA Cup 4th Round thanks to this header by Alan Shoulder.
The hard-fought 1-0 win over Isthmian League Enfield put the Spartans in the 4th Round for the first time and laid the ghosts of 1972.
6 years earlier Blyth had been 90 minutes from Wembley only to lose to the Londoners in an FA Amateur Cup Semi Final at St James’ Park. 5 Non League clubs had made it into the 3rd Round, Blyth were the only side drawn at home and the only side who made it through.
Blyth had gone into the tie with mounting injuries, Dagless had been out injured since December and a further blow saw Eddie Alder fail a fitness test with Dave Varty being given his place in midfield. Enfield were on a 32 game unbeaten run and had only conceded 1 goal in their 6 cup games so far so were seen as favourites for the tie. The visitors started stronger, in the 6th minute a goal bound Tony Bass shot was deflected away for a corner. Derek Barker then missed 2 clear-cut chances before Bass beat 2 defenders and crash a shot off the post.
Blyth were rather fortunate to go in level at half time with the defence just about holding firm against the wave of Enfield attacks. Bass then lifted another glorious chance over the bar before Brian Slane decided to change things, Steve Carney came on for the tiring Mutrie, to add some ‘fresh legs’ to the forward line.
In the 72nd minute Blyth made the vital break through against the run of play, Varty collected Rob Carney’s short corner and floated over a cross that Alan Shoulder headed home. Frustration got the better of the Enfield players as tempers boiled over, Mick O’Sullivan was sent off for a lunge on Steve Carney and then punching Carney as the players squared up to each other. Blyth were on top after the incident and comfortably saw out the remaining time to seal historic place the 4th Round.
* It was Alan Shoulder’s 1st FA Cup goal and his FA Cup debut for Blyth but it was not his ‘club debut’ as many claimed.
His debut had come on 10th December when he scored the only goal in a 1-0 home win over Durham City.
* The game kicked off at 2pm at the request of Enfield to allow them to catch an earlier train home.
4th Round – Monday 6th February 1978
Stoke City 2 Blyth Spartans 3
Goals Terry Johnson 2, Steve Carney
Team: Dave Clarke, John Waterson, Ron Guthrie, Eddie Alder, Ronnie Scott, Tommy Dixon, Rob Carney, Keith Houghton, Steve Carney, Alan Shoulder, Terry Johnson.
Sub: Dave Varty for Alder.
Stoke City team: Roger Jones, Jackie Marsh, Alec Lindsay, Howard Kendall, Alan Dodd, Alan Bloor, Steve Waddington, Geoff Scott, Viv Busby, Terry Conroy, Garth Crooks.
Sub: Jeff Cook.
Ref: George Nolan.
The tie was twice postponed with the Blyth party twice travelling down to the potteries.
Blyth pulled off their biggest giant killing coming from 1-2 down to beat the second Division side with a dramatic late winner by Terry Johnson.
Wearing their new away kit Spartans survived an early scare when Viv Busby crashed a shot against the post. Blyth settled and took a 12th minute lead, City keeper Roger Jones dropped Rob Carney and Terry Johnson reacted quickest to stab the ball home. The home side missed a chance to level straight after when Terry Conroy completely missed the ball with only Clarke to beat. Blyth held their lead into half time but the break galvanised the home team. In the 57th minute Busby drew city level, minutes later they had turned the tie around. A corner was flicked on and Garth Crooks dived low to head city into the lead. Blyth rallied and drew level following a free kick, Ron Guthrie’s thunderous free kick crashed into the wall. The ball spun up over the Stoke keeper and onto his left hand post. Alan Shoulder reacted the quickest but his header amazingly hit the opposite post before falling into the path of Steve Carney who hammered it home the equaliser, the Stoke defenders appealed in vain for offside. With seconds left another Blyth won another free kick. John Waterson’s effort reached Keith Houghton on the edge of the box. He headed into the penalty area towards Rob Carney who just managed to get a touch, his flick took it past the two defenders and inadvertently into the path of the on rushing Terry Johnson. The former Brentford forward hammered it past Roger Jones to seal the club’s greatest giant killing.
* Both sides wore their away kits, ref George Nolan insisted Stoke wore their away kit to make sure there was a clear difference in colours. Blyth’s new away kit had white shorts & white socks, Stoke’s home kit had white shorts & white socks.
*St James’ Park, Newcastle had already been allocated any replay after authorities & officials decided that Croft Park would not have been suitable.
*After defeating Stoke City it would be another 18 years before Blyth beat another league side in the FA Cup.
* The game features in a ‘Classic Encounters’ blog, read the full in-depth story of the game:
5th Round – Saturday 16th February 1978
Wrexham 1 Blyth Spartans 1
Goal: Terry Johnson.
Team: Dave Clarke, John Waterson, Ron Guthrie, Eddie Alder, Ronnie Scott, Tommy Dixon, Alan Shoulder, Keith Houghton, Terry Johnson, Rob Carney, Steve Carney.
Sub Dave Varty (unused).
Wrexham team: Dai Davies, Mickey Evans, Alan Hill, Gareth Davis, John Roberts, Mickey Thomas, Bobby Shinton, Mel Sutton, Dixie McNeil, Graham Whittle, Les Cartwright.
Sub: John Lyons.
Ref: Alf Grey
Spartans were the first Non League side to play in the 5th Round for 29 years. Highlights of the game was shown on Match of the Day that night and the entire country saw the injustice as Alf Grey received even more criticism after the game for a pivotal decision he made during the game.
Blyth took a 12th minute lead when Terry Johnson latched onto a poor back pass to slot the ball under the advancing Dai Davies. Blyth survived several scares to hold their lead until half time. Wrexham piled on the pressure after the break, a mix of poor finishing and good defending saw the home side struggle to break down the Spartans defence. In the 67th minute tempers boiled over several player shaving had running feuds. Steve Carney challenged John Lyons near the corner flag, Lyons then lashed out kicking Carney in the stomach as he fell over. The showed Lyons straight red card and then as Carney received treatment showed him his second yellow for the challenge and therefore produced the red card!.
Blyth appeared to have weather Wrexham’s late pressure when McNeil inexplicably divert Shinton’s goal bound header onto the bar!.
With seconds left Grey wrongly awarded a corner when Waterson played the ball off Shinton for a goal kick. Cartwright’s first corner was punched away by Clarke for another corner. The second was swung in and caught by Clarke, however Grey noticed the corner flag had ‘fallen over’ and ordered it to be retaken. The flag had previously fallen over several times in the frozen surface, but Les Cartwright had in fact pushed it over to give himself room to take the corner!. The third corner was swung over and Roberts challenged Clarke, both missed it and it fell to McNeil who just managed to squeeze a header home at the far post.
Spartans were cruelly denied their rightful place in the Quarter Finals and a home tie with Arsenal.
* The game features in a ‘Classic Encounters’ blog, read the full in-depth story of the game:
5th Round replay – Monday 27th February 1978
Blyth Spartans 1 Wrexham 2
Goal: Terry Johnson.
Team: Dave Clarke, John Waterson, Ron Guthrie, Dave Varty, Ronnie Scott, Tommy Dixon, Alan Shoulder, Keith Houghton, Terry Johnson, Rob Carney, Steve Carney.
Sub: Ian Mutrie (unused).
Wrexham team: Dai Davies, Mickey Evans, Alan Dwyer,
Gareth Davis, John Roberts, Mickey Thomas, Bobby Shinton, Mel Sutton, Dixie McNeil, Graham Whittle, Les Cartwright.
Sub: Alan Hill.
Ref: Alf Grey
The replay at St James’ Park had been postponed 6 days earlier, the game attracted the biggest crowd of the season to St James’. A sudden downpour just before kick off turned the heavy pitch into a mud bath. The visitors took a 7th minute lead when Alf Grey controversially awarded them a penalty for a foul by Ronnie Scott on McNeil. Whitte hammered home from the spot. Alan Shoulder came to close to an equaliser when he fired over, he was then cynically brought down by Dwyer when through on goal but the ref waved play on. The Welshmen extended their lead in the 26th minute when McNeil spectacularly crashed home a half volley giving Dave Clarke no chance. The half ended with Blyth being denied a clear penalty when Roberts blocked a shot with his hand. The second half saw Blyth pile on the pressure with Johnson, Steve Carney and Ronnie Scott all going close. Wrexham best chance came from Blyth captain John Waterson, attempting to clear he headed a Shinton cross onto his own bar!. Spartans got their reward 7 minutes from time, a rammed packed St James’ erupted when when Keith Houghton headed Rob Carney’s ball into the path of Terry Johnson.
The striker spun passed the defenders and lashed home high passed as helpless Dai Davies. The remaining minutes were absolute bedlam as the crowd bayed for another goal but unfortunately it wasn’t to be and despite their valiant efforts the dream was over. Blyth Spartans may have lost the game but in the eyes of the packed St James’ Park and the North East they were the real winners.
* The game features in a ‘Classic Encounters’ blog, read the full in-depth story of the game:
Player/Manager – Brian Slane
Brian was signed in 1969 from NPL South Shields by then manager Jackie Marks, he scored his first Blyth goal on 27/8/1969 in 5-1 home win over Ferryhill.
His first hat trick came on 3/9/69 in 6-2 win at Crook Town, finishing his first season as top scorer with 44 goals.
A club record came on 25/9/69, the most goal scored by one player in an FA Cup tie.
He scored 6 in the 8-2 home win over Stockton, weeks later he also scored 7 in a 13-0 league win over Stanley Utd.
He was top scorer in 1970/71 with 28, in 71/72 he scored 40 goals helping Blyth reach the FA Cup 3rd Rd for the very first time. They reached the semi final of the FA Amateur Cup, only to lose to Enfield at St James Park.
After a season at Bishop Auckland in 72/73 he returned for the 1973/74 season scoring 28 goals as they reached the FA Cup 2nd Rd & Amateur Cup 4th Rd.
In 1974/75 he won his first Northern League title with Blyth scoring 30 as they won the title without losing a single game (a feat that has not been achieved since).
The goals continued to flow, retaining the NL title in 75/76 and winning the Senior Cup. He finished top scorer in 76/77 yet again, in February 1977 chairman Jim Turney surprised many by appointing him Player/Manager.
That summer along with his newly appointed assistant, Jackie Marks, they rebuilt the side for what became that historic season.
Brian scored the first goal of the cup run in the 3-0 1st Qual. Rd win at Shildon. He played in the early qualifying rounds against Shildon, Crook, Consett, Bishop Auckland before concentrating on managing.
He announced in December ’78 he was stepping down to spend more time with his family. His last game for the club game came on 16th December 1978 against Ferryhill and having scored his first ever Blyth goal against them 9 years earlier.
He named himself in the team and fittingly scored his last goal in the 3-1 win, becoming the clubs all time top scorer with 242 goals.
Assistant Manager/Coach – Jackie Marks
Jackie was appointed Blyth manager in 1967, he rebuilt the side achieving the clubs highest NL finish of 3rd in 1969/70.
Leaving Blyth in 1970 he went on to managed Ashington, North Shields & Tow Law.
He brought through youngsters like Tommy Dixon, Rob Carney & Keith Houghton who would go onto the back bone of that 77/78 side.
Returning to Croft Park in August 1977 he was instrumental in bringing the likes of Terry Johnson & Ron Guthrie to the club.
His unique motivational techniques came to the fore during the cup run and armed with his famous ‘speed oil’ caught the media’s attentions:
“I carried a bottle of whisky and I made everybody have a small nip before they went out. We called it speedoil, and when people heard about it I got bottles of whisky from all over; some people even gave me gallon bottles.”
He famously he broke down in tears at St James after that 1-2 Wrexham replay defeat, when Slane stepped down in February 78 Jackie was the natural successor.
He reigned over an extremely successful 4 year spell which brought more cup runs and trophies. There was of course cup runs, including an epic 3 game battle with Hull Cuty and reaching the FA Trophy Quarter Finals.
He continued to bring in legendary Spartans, signing the likes of Paul Walker, Dave Mitchenson, Harry Dunn and the one he decreed his best signing of all; Les Mutrie.
After stepping down as manager he stayed for another 4 years as General Manager and was made an Honorary Life Member of the club.
*He could be regularly seen on the terraces at home games before sadly passing away in July 2017.
Jackie featured in the Green & White Cult Heroes series, read his incredible football story.
Goalkeeper – Dave Clarke
Clarkie was a 29-year-old Salesmen in 77/78, he also took up the role as bingo caller in the social club on occasions!.
He joined in summer of 77 when Gateshead United folded, he had played in the Football League for Doncaster Rovers and Darlington. He then moved into Non League football playing Gainsborough Trinity, South Shields & Gateshead Utd.
He played in every game of the cup run making vital saves against Chesterfield, Stoke & Wrexham and was awarded Non League Player of the Year for heroics that season.
Dave was with the club for 11 years playing over 400 games, he achieved a staggering 110 consecutive appearances from August 1979 through until April 1981.
An sign of Dave’s longevity is that from his debut until his retirement 11 years later, only 12 other keepers played for the club in that period and between them they managed to make less than 20 appearances!.
He was widely acknowledged as the best goalkeeper outside the football league and was the first choice for the England Semi Pro side, winning 16 caps for his country.
Clarkie received a testimonial in 1987, on Monday 19th October 4,650 packed into Croft Park to see Blyth beat a full strength Newcastle United 3-0.
He later went on to be a coach under Jim Pearson before being appointed manager in June 1988 becoming the 2nd member of the 77/78 side to manage the club.
Dave also featured in the green & White Cult heroes series, read all about the best Non League football’s goalkeeper of his era.
Right Back – John Waterson. Captain.
John was 29 years old in 77/78 and employed as a stock controller with British Ropes.
He was signed in summer of 1975 from Whitley Bay by then manager Allan O’Neill. He Joined Whitley Bay from Willington St Aidens in 1972 and was awarded Whitley’s Player of the Year in his very first season. After 3 seasons at Whitley he move to Croft Park becoming widely acclaimed as the best full back in the region.
His performances saw him picked for the FA XI team. In March 76’ he captained an FA XI side to a 1-0 win over Universities Athletic Union XI, in that FA XI side was his future teammates, North Shields Keith Houghton and Bishop Auckland’s Alan Shoulder.
He was appointed captain by Brian Slane at the start of the 77/78 season and stated:
“All my job entails is tossing the coin because we’ve so many experienced players”.
In September 1977 he was awarded the honour of captaining the prestigious Middlesex Wanderers team for their tour of South Korea!.
It was his challenge at the Racecourse Ground that won a goal kick that should have put Blyth into the Quarter Finals had it not been for Alf Gey making a wrong decision!.
John was a virtual ever-present at right back in his 5 years with the club but never managed to score a goal!.
In summer of 1980 he left and joined Gateshead, he played 2 seasons in the NPL before moving to North Shields. In 1982/83 he was involved in another cup run as the Robins won 6 games to reach the 2nd Round before losing at home to Walsall.
Being captain of the side that created such a legacy in 2014 he was invited to the official opening ceremony of the towns famous and iconic art deco cinema. The Wallaw had undergone a multi million pound conversion by Wetherspoons and they invited John to perform the ceremonial opening.
Left Back – Ron Guthrie
Ron was 33-year-old Insurance Company rep in 77/78, he played in every game of the run.
Having played in the Sunderland team that famously beat Leeds Utd to win the FA Cup in 1973 his experience proved invaluable as the run progressed.
Ron started his career at Newcastle Utd in 1963 as a 19-year-old. He workied his way through to the first team, making his debut at Villa Park in August 1966.
A tough tackling left back he played 68 times for United before being transferred to Sunderland in January 1973.
He made his debut on 20th Jan in 1-1 draw at Swindon. His first goal came in the FA Cup Quarter Final 2-0 home win against Luton Town in front of 53,000, scoring a dramatic over kick 8 minutes from time.
He made 81 appearances for Sunderland gaining further European experience playing in the Cup Winners Cup, having played in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup with Newcastle.
He was released in June 1975 and joined NPL Gateshead playing a season before leaving. He briefly played for Ashington in the Northern League before a spell in Petoria, South Africa with Arcadia Shepherds with former Newcastle teammate Tommy Cassidy.
When he returned home Jackie Marks stepped in quickly to sign him up.
“Mr Reliable” as he was dubbed by captain John Waterson: “he never gets flustered irrespective of the amount of pressure we have to soak up. He is so consistent its untrue. His mere presence in the dressing room was invaluable”.
Ron played on at Blyth for another 3 years after the cup run before retiring in 1981 aged 37. He added to his FA Cup winners medal while at Croft Park winning the Debenhams Cup, 2 NL titles, 1 NL League Cup and 2 Senior Cups.
Centre Half – Tommy Dixon.
Tommy was 26 years old in 77/78 and employed as an electrical engineer.
He had been with the club since January 1975 when manager Allan O’Neill signed him from Ashington. Tom had begun his career at Gateshead before being signed by then Colliers manager Jackie Marks in 1972.
Tommy was an integral part of their side that reached the Semi Finals of the FA Amateur Cup in 1974 (playing alongside a young Les Mutrie).
Tom initially played as a defensive midfielder as long serving Ronnie Phillipson partnered Ronnie Scott at the centre of the defence. When Phillipson left in 1975 he established himself alongside Ronnie Scott in a formidable centre half pairing.
He played in every single game of the cup run as part of the same back four that played in 10 consecutive ties!.
He featured in every single FA XI game against the Northern League that was played in the 70’s but surprisingly never got called up when the new England Semi Pro was formed, despite even playing in every trial game!.
He was appointed captain when Jackie Marks took over as manager in February 1978.
In August/September 1983 he played for the prestigious Middlesex Wanderers in their tour of India & Bangladesh and was awarded the ‘Oustanding player of the Tour’.
In April 1984 Tommy had the honour of lifting the Northern League championship for a record 5th consecutive season. Blyth became the first club to win the Northern League 5 season running; 79/80, 80/81, 81/82, 82/83 and 83/84
He had made more than 600 appearances before being surprisingly released in summer of 1984 by manager Peter Feenan. He was quickly snapped up by one of his former Blyth managers; Bob Ewell who was now manager of North Shields.
Tommy was awarded a testimonial in November 1984, a 2,500 crowd saw his 77/78 teammates reunite to beat a Newcastle United XI 3-1.
Being a defender who only scored 8 goals for the club and only 1 of them being a penalty bizarrely his testimonial finished with a penalty shoot out!.
Tommy’s opponent in the shoot out was one of United’s young stars, he beat the future England star Chris Waddle 5-4!.
Finishing this playing career with North Shields he retuned to Croft Park as manager in November 1988 taking over from his former teammate Dave Clarke. He was the third member of the cup run side to manage the club.
* Tommy sadly passed away in July 2017 after a short illness.
Centre Half – Ronnie Scott.
Ronnie was a 36-year-old colliery fitter in 77/78 and in his 10th season with the club.
It proved to be his last season with the club but what a season to finish on. He played over 500 games and was only ever booked 3 times!. Joining the club from Red Row FC he broke into the side toward the end of the 67/68 season under Caretaker Manager Peter Flaherty.
It was under the newly appointed Jackie Marks that he blossomed and gained rave reviews as the “coolest centre half in minor soccer in the North East”.
The club had initially struggled to adapt to life in the Northern League but under Marks they got a foothold and Ronnie was the rock that the 70’s teams were built around in a trophy laden decade.
He won the Northern League title 3 times; 72/73, 74/75 & 75/76 and he was a runner-up 3 times 71/72, 73/74 & 77/78. He also won the League Cup twice in 72/73 & 77/78 and the Northumberland Senior Cup four times 72,74,75 & 78.
He came within 90 minutes of reaching Wembley in 1972, when Blyth reached the Semi Final of the FA Amateur Cup only to lose 0-2 to Enfield at St James Park.
He played under 7 different manager in his decade with the club and never missed a single training session. It was quite an undertaking for Ronnie because he had to get 2 buses from his home in Broomhill to get him to Blyth. The hour and a half bus journey was then repeated to get him back home!.
Ronnie was known for his never say die attitude and played on despite suffering injury problems, John Waterson once said: “You’d have to break his leg before he’d pack in”.
Long serving club secretary George Watson said: “First and foremost Ronnie was a gentleman. He never had a bad word for anyone and was hard but always fair on the pitch”.
Ronnie was awarded a testimonial in October 1979 along with his long serving team-mate Eddie Alder, after leaving he briefly played for Ashington before retiring due to injury problems.
* Ronnie sadly passed away in March 2010 aged 68 after a battle with cancer.
Gordon Catterall – Midfielder
Gordon was a 22 year old catering rep in 1977/78 and had joined the club in March 1977. He was in fact Brian Slane’s first signing after being appointed manager.
Gordon who was from Washington, had joined Leeds United as an apprentice aged 18 in 1972. He was released the following year and signed for Fourth Division Darlington.
He made 102 appearances in 3 years and was appointed captain at Feethams in his second season. In summer of 1976 he left full-time football and was snapped up by Northern League Bishop Auckland where he played alongside Alan Shoulder. While playing for Bishops he also played for the very successful Langley Park Rams Head FC in the Durham Sunday League. The player manager of the Rams Head was none other than Brian Slane, he played with several of his 77/78 teammates as well such as John Waterson, Tommy Dixon, Mick Dagless and several other Blyth players who were at the club when he joined in March 77. A creative midfielder Gordon was an ever-present after signing but was in and out of the team at the star too 77/78. He had only made 2 appearances prior to the cup run starting but had scored in the opening day 3-0 win at Willington.
He started in midfield in the 1st Qualifying Round 3-0 win at Shildon and was then sub in the 1-1 2nd Qualifying Round draw at Crook Town.
He didn’t feature in the cup run again and after only 4 more appearances he left to join Whitby Town in November 1977.
Midfield – John ‘Eddie’ Alder.
Eddie was a 34-year-old Painter & Decorator in 77/78.
He joined in summer of 1966 from Bedlington CW, he was originally a left winger when signed by then manager Jim Turney. Converted into a central midfielder he was the heart of the team that got a foot hold in the Northern League and went onto dominate with 3 titles and 2 runners-up places in the space of 5 years.
Known for his tenacity and hard work he was skilful footballer who could ‘use both feet’, playing alongside Mick Dagless they formed a formidable midfield partnership.
He first experienced a ‘cup run’ in 71/72 , Blyth won a 1st round tie at 1-0 won at Crewe then beat Stockport 1-0 before losing a 3rd Rd replay at Reading after a 2-2 draw at Croft Park.
1972/73 was one of his finest as the club won the Northern League title, reached the 2nd round of the FA Cup before losing a replay at Grimsby. The also reached the Semi Final of the FA Amateur Cup only to lose 0-2 to Enfield at St James Park.
His side also twice reached the Quarter Finals in 71/72 and 73/74. In January 73 Blyth hosted the holders Hendon in a 2nd round tie drawing 1-1 at home they went Hendon for the replay underdogs. Thanks to a superb Allan Young winner 4 minutes from time they knocked the holders out. Hendon were so impressed with Eddie over the 2 games they offered him a job and a house if he moved south and signed for them!.
In 194/75 Eddie got to pit his skills against World Cup winners Bobby Charlton & Nobby Stiles when Preston North End came to Blyth for 1st round tie.
He even had a spell as player/manager when he and Billy Fenwick took charge of team affairs from May 73 until the appointment of Alan O’Neill in August 1974.
Having suffered from persistent knee injury problems he retired in October 1976, when Brian Slane was appointed in February 1977 he brought Eddie back as his player/coach.
Having played alongside him Slane he wanted Eddie to play again, once Eddie proved his fitness Jackie Marks was appointed the new assistant manager for that historic 77/78 season.
Eddie played at Shildon & Crook, he missed the Bishop Auckland tie with injury but played against Burscough, Chesterfield. He missed the Enfield tie due failing a late fitness test. He played at Stoke & Wrexham but was left out of the replay for Dave Varty.
77/78 was his swan song he left in the summer of 78 and had a brief spell at Bedlington Terriers before retiring.
With his famous bald head Eddie was an iconic figure in the Blyth side for 13 years becoming the clubs record appearance holder with 625 games, he was awarded a Testimonial in October 1979.
Midfielder – Mick Dagless.
Mick was 29-year-old school teacher in 77/78 and had been with the club since September 1972.
Signed by then manager Billy Bell, he came to Croft Park with a very rare accolade for a non league footballer, he was a European Cup winner!.
Born in Norfolk, the family moved to Peterborough where he caught the eye of Peterborough United scouts. Playing for their Youth sides and Reserves he was capped by England Schoolboys.
He then moved to the North East aged 18 to study at Newcastle University and played for their Northern Combination League team.
He was signed by FA Amateur Cup holders North Shields in 1969, having won the Amateur Cup they played Alamos Rome in a 2 legged European Amateur Cup.
They won on a ‘toss of a coin’ after drawing 2-2 on aggregate giving 20-year-old Mick his unique European medal.
His performances attract the attentions of Liverpool and he turned down a move Hartlepool United to continue his studies.
Once at Croft Park he was central to a highly successful 70’s, he was a cultured free scoring midfielder known for his deadly shooting ability. He won 3 Northern League titles and reached the FA Amateur Cup Quarter Finals in consecutive seasons before that famous 77/78 season.
He played in the 1st Qual. win at Shildon and in both 2nd Qual. ties against Crook,. He scored in the 4-1 3rd Qual. Round win at Consett and played in 4th Qual. win at Bishop Auckland but on 19th November he was injured in a 1-1 draw at Durham City. That injury ruled him out of the ties against Burscough, Chesterfield, Enfield and Stoke City.
He returned to play in February but wasn’t able to reclaim his place in the midfield for the Wrexham games, he played in the Senior Cup Final win at SJP and the League Cup win over Willington, he got to face Wrexham in both Debenhams Cup ties at the end of that famous season.
He played on until 1980, winning another league title and reaching the FA Trophy Quarter Finals. He then took up a player/coach role at the new formed Bedlington Terriers before taking the manager’s job at Whitley Bay in summer of 1981.
He returned to Croft Park as manager November 1983 becoming the first member of the 77/78 team to take up the hot seat at Croft Park.
After leaving in March 84 he went to manage Alnwick Town where he brought through a young striker who would become future Spartans hero; Richie Bond.
He then ended his managerial spell as assistant at Northern Alliance Morpeth Town.
Mick was later heavily involved with the Northumberland County Schools FA while continuing his career as teacher.
Mick features in the Green & White Cult Heroes series, read all about the 21-year-old European Cup winner.
Midfielder – Keith Houghton.
Keith was a 23 year Wallsend Policeman in 77/78 and joined the club in November on the eve of the 1st Round against Burscough.
Having been an apprentice at Newcastle United he was surprisingly released and joined North Shields who also got him a job as a green keeper at a local golf club.
He played under Jackie Marks at Appleby Park making a name for himself in the with his commanding midfield performances and was a regular in the FA XI Select teams.
In summer of 1977 he signed for NPL Gateshead FC but having just joined the Police Force his work commitments limited him to 6 appearances because he was also regular for the British Police team.
Brian Slane made his move for the midfielder in the week leading up to the 1st Round tie and after negotiations with the British Police team he was allowed to play in the Burscough home tie.
Keith played in every round afterwards, it was his header through to Terry Johnson that lead to the goal at St James Park.
His first goal came on March 9th in 3-2 win at Crook Town, his next came in the 6-1 hammering of League Champion Spennymoor on 4th May.
In May 1979 he was called up for the inaugural England Semi Pro side for the new 3 team tournament and made this debut in the 5-1 win over Scotland.
The strong running, tough tacking midfielder was ever-present and his performances attracted the attentions of several league clubs. Chelsea, Peterborough & Carlisle chased his signature but he rebuffed their approaches due to his job as a Policeman.
However in January 1980 he handed in his notice and decided to join Third Division Carlisle United, feeling a move to the Cumbrians was the better option for him personally than moving down south to Peterborough or Chelsea.
Keith would drive across to Cumbria from his North Tyneside home daily and his passenger on the journey was a young 20-year-old striker who had also been released by Newcastle United; Peter Beardsley.
He played 87 times for the Cumbrians winning promotion to the Second Division with them in 1981/82. In 1983 signed for Lincoln City playing 26 times before retiring in 1984 due to a knee injury, having been a centre midfield in his early years he was often used as centre half at Carlisle & Lincoln.
Midfielder – Rob Carney.
Rob was a 26-year-old stock controller for a pharmaceutical firm in 77/78, he joined Blyth in the summer of 1977 from North Shields with his younger brother Steve.
He had played very little football between the ages of 14 to 24 having spent the time watching Newcastle United, he did however play for his works team.
Then North Shields manager Jackie Marks worked at the same factory and someone recommend he go and watch Rob play. Jackie like what he saw and signed him.
Rob made a name for himself as a box to box skilful midfielder playing alongside Keith Houghton, with and eye for goal it was no surprise he fitted in straight away at Croft Park.
He scored twice on his home debut in the 2-0 home win over Bishop Auckland on 27th August, he scored 5 goals in his first 4 games for the club. A first choice pick for his ability to run with the ball and hold the play up when under pressure, he played in every FA Cup game bar the 1-1 draw at Crook.
Rob scored the 3rd goal in the 3-0 1st Qual. Round win at Shildon and then the opening goal in the 2nd Qual. 3-0 replay win over Crook Town having missed the first game due to being best man at a wedding!.
He scored the winner in the League Cup Semi Final win over eventual League Champions Spennymoor, he got 13 goals from midfield in that 77/78 season. He was an unused sub in the 2-1 win at Wrexham in the Debenhams Cup 1st leg and played in the 2-1 Senior Cup Final win over North Shields at St James Park and the 6-1 League Cup Final win against Willington.
On the 12th November 1977 Rob and his brother Steve became the first brothers to score in the same game for the club since the 3 Turney brothers scored back in August 1955. They both netted in the 5-0 league win at Ashington, 40 years on that feat still hasn’t been repeated since.
In the 78/79 season he found starting appearances limited, he scored his last goal in the 3-2 win over Whitby Town in November. In January 79 he returned to North Shields in search of regular football. He retired in 1980 after suffering a broken leg.
He went into management with Blue Star and Tow Law Town after retiring and twice came close to being pointed manager at Croft Park. In summer of 1988 he was ‘in the running’ after Jim Pearson resigned but the job went his former teammate Dave Clarke.
In the November 88 after Clarke resigned both Rob and his brother were approached by the board as possible successors, they couldn’t agree terms and decided to stayed on as assistant manager at Tow Law Town.
Rob only played at Blyth for 18 months but what they achieved in that year and a half will never been forgotten.
Midfielder – Steve Carney.
Steve was a 20-year-old apprentice electrician in 77/78 and the youngest member of the squad, having joined in the summer of 77 along with his bother Rob.
He was a trainee at West Brom as a youngster but returned home when they let him go and joined North Shields where his brother was playing, making his debut as an 18-year-old in 75/76.
He played 31 games and was then snapped up in the summer by Blyth but a wrangle with the league over a suspension for being sent off for North Shields delayed his debut for 3 months. He was a proper utility player, used in defence, midfield and up front.
He managed to score 16 goals in 77/78 season, he famously score the equaliser at Stoke.
His tough tackling no-nonsense approach saw him involved in 2 red card incidents, Enfield’s Mick O’Sullivan was sent off for punching Steve in the 3rd Round tie and then he was sent off at Wrexham for a second yellow card after clashing with Mick Lyons.
Steve’s final goal of 77/78 season was back at St James Park in May when he scored in the Senior Cup Final win over this former club North Shields, little did he know then that within a year St James would become his home ground!.
In 78/79 Steve played 35 times, catching the eye of Newcastle United boss Bill McGarry when he was watching Blyth prior to signing Alan Shoulder. Steve managed only 7 appearances in 79/80 as he went on trial to Newcastle. In October 79 Steve made the move to Newcastle United for £1,000.
He made 149 appearances for United playing under 4 different managers. He was an integral part of the 83/84 team playing alongside Kevin Keegan. He only managed 1 goal for United, on the opening day of 84/85 season he scored the club’s first goal of the campaign in the 3-2 win at Leicester City.
Following a loan spell at Carlisle United in March he was released by Jackie Charlton in August 85 and joined Darlington. He made 12 appearances before being loaned out to Rochdale for 4 games, he then briefly joined Hartlepool before retiring for the professional game. He then turned out for Tow Law Town as a favour for his brother Rob who was their assistant manager.
In April 87 he rejoined the Spartans as they closed in on the league title, he won the league again in 87/88 playing in all but 4 of the 51 games that season.
In November 1988 following discussions with the board he came close to being appointed manager following Dave Clarke’s resignation. An agreement couldn’t be reached and his former teammate Tommy Dixon took over with Steve staying on as a player. In March 1990 Steve had a month as Caretaker Manager before the club appointed Ronnie Walton following Tommy Dixon resignation.
He retired in May 1991 having played 167 times in his second spell with the club while running his family business. In January 2011 he set up ‘Steve Carney Fitness’ a personal trainer business.
* In February 2013 news broke that Steve was suffering from pancreatic cancer, he sadly passed away on 6th May 2013.
Steve feature in the Green & White Cult Heroes series, read all about the young Geordie who fulfilled his dream to play full-time football.
Midfielder – Dave Varty.
Dave was 21-year-old in 77/78 and a student studying for an honours degree in Civil Engineering, he lived a matter of yards from the ground on Broadway Circle. He had joined in the summer from Whitley Bay, a pacey box to box midfielder he had initially struggled to settle into the team but as the season progressed his ability and pace made him a vital squad member.
Before joining Whitley Bay he had starred for Blyth Town Boys Club and Blyth Schoolboys teams. He had signed for Newcastle United Juniors and also had trials at Leicester City.
He played against Crook and was sub for the Consett game, he played at Bishop Auckland but missed the Burscough tie and was sub against Chesterfield.
He started in the 3rd Round win over Enfield and was a sub at Stoke and Wrexham. Brian Slane made a change for the replay at St James Park with Dave’s ‘young’ legs being preferred to Eddie Alder.
Having only scored twice all season he was the star of the Debenhams Cup Final against Wrexham scoring in both legs as Blyth gained some revenge over the Welshmen.
Dave played on for 3 more season at Croft Park winning 2 Northern League titles, a League Cup and reached the FA Trophy Quarter Finals.
In 1980/81 he was unlucky to miss out on the 3 epic FA Cup ties with Hull City when he picked up an injury in the game before at Penrith that kept him out for a month.
He left summer of 1981 joining North Shields, in 1981/82 he and his fellow Blyth teammate John Waterson were involved in another cup run. The Robins won 6 cup ties to reach the 2nd Round. Their win at league side Halifax Town in the 1st Round was the first time the club had ever beaten a league club in the cup.
Dave later moved on to Bishop Auckland where he won another 2 league titles before returning to Croft Park in summer 1987, ironically his final game for Bishops came at Croft Park in the final game of 86/87.
He played 2 more seasons winning yet another league title in his first season back.
He retired at the end of 88/89 season, with Dave and Steve Carney being the youngest members of the 77/78 team they were the last 2 members of that squad to still play for the club.
Forward – Steve ‘Jos’ Jones.
Jos was a 20-year-old Civil Servant in 77/78 having joined in spring 77 after catching the eye in a friendly against the club. After leaving school he worked for the Department of Health and Social Security down in Essex. When he came back home every month he played for the Golden Eagle pub on a Sunday morning (the Golden Eagle pub was owned by Blyth Chairman Jim Turney).
Shortly after returning home permanently the Golden Eagle team was asked to play in a friendly against the Spartans because they had a game postponed, and wanted match practise.
Jos played in the game at Croft Park and despite being up against Tommy Dixon & Ronnie Scott caught the eye of the Blyth management. Straight after the game Brian Slane invited him to train with the club. After impressing with his speed and finishing ability he was handed his debut in the final game of 76/77 at home to Willington on 30th April.
What a debut it was, he scored a perfect hat trick, left foot shot, right foot shot and header. But he ended the game with a broken nose after a defender elbowed him in the first half and then he got hit in the face by a trademark Mick Dagless thunderbolt shot. Days later he ended up in hospital and had to have his nose operated on, quite an introduction to the Northern League.
Jos was lightning quick and the star of the early rounds, he scored the vital equaliser at Crook in the 2nd qualifying round that earned the replay and scored again the in 4-1 victory at Consett in the next round.
But it was this winner in the 2nd round at home to Chesterfield that caught every ones attention, latching on to a loose back pass he stabbed the ball pass the advancing keeper.
It was his 16th goal for the club in only his 21st appearance, his early form had drawn the attentions of league clubs Aston Villa and Burnley who both wanted him for trials.
A bout of flu forced him to miss the 3rd Round tie against Enfield and after that he didn’t feature due to the form of Alan Shoulder & Terry Johnson, he ended his first season with an impressive 18 goals.
He found it hard to get games in 78/79 season and in January left to join Blue Star as part off the deal that brought defender Steve Dixon to Croft Park.
He went to play for Whitley Bay before returning to Blyth in November 1983, playing for 3 more seasons winning a Northern League title and the Senior Cup. In 85/86 he had his most prolific spell in since that 77/78 season scoring 7 goals in 3 games.
He finished his playing days at Alnwick Town, deciding to call it a day when he scored the winner in a game at Crook Town shortly after his 40th birthday.
Forward – Ian ‘Archie’ Mutrie.
Archie was a 24-year-old Warehouseman in 77/78 and had joined in the summer from North Shields.
Archie had a successful youth career and was a star of the local Sunday League when Jackie Marks signed him for North Shields in March 75. After 6 games at end of that season he left and went back to playing Sunday League, thinking Northern league football didn’t suit him. He soon returned to playing for North Shields, and it was no surprise once Jackie became Blyth’s assistant manager he signed Archie.
On 27th September 77 he scored a hat trick on his debut in the 5-0 win over Ashington.
He headed home the 72nd minute winner at Bishop Auckland in the 4th Qualifying round and then fired home the winner against Burscough in the 1st Round.
It was during those celebrations he first donned his ‘lucky cap’ swearing to wear it until they were knocked out the cup. He played against Chesterfield in the 2nd Round carrying an injury and didn’t finish the game.
He recovered to face Enfield in the 3rd Round but was subbed for Steve Carney before Alan Shoulder head home the 77th minute winner.
He missed out in the 4th Round when Shoulder & Johnson were the preferred and missed out again for the Wrexham tie. He was named on the bench for the replay at St James but didn’t get on.
He missed out on playing at St James Park again in May when he didn’t feature in the Senior Cup Final against his old club North Shields, but days later scored a hat trick in the 5-1 League Cup Final win over Willington.
He kept his place for the Debenhams Cup Final 1st leg 2-1 win at Wrexham and was a sub for the 2nd leg at Croft Park.
In 78/79 he scored in 5 consecutive games before returning to North Shields in the January, he scored 13 in his first 20 games back at Shields.
In September 79 his moved to Ashington, and scored 5 against North Shields in their first meeting after leaving, he finished the league’s top scorer with 47 goals and won the Senior Cup.
Archie surprisingly returned to Croft Park In September 1981 continuing his great form scoring in 8 consecutive games, his 15 goals helped Blyth reach the FA Cup 1st Round.
Unfortunately he twisted his knee in the 1-2 defeat to Walsall and was ruled out for 3 months. He returned in time to win the league title and league cup double.
Ever the joker, after scoring twice in the FA Trophy 1st Round win at Whitby he decided to not shave again until Blyth went out the trophy. By the time Spartans went out in the Quarter Finals he had full beard!. He scored 2 consecutive hat tricks as Blyth scored 32 goals in 8 games on way to another title.
He again rejoined North Shields in January 84, he left Blyth having scored 78 goals and was the club’s 5th top goalscorer in their 18 years in the Northern League. Unsurprisingly in his first full season back at Shields, 84/85, he was the league’s top scorer again with 33.
He went on to play for Brandon United under Peter Feenan then under Mick Dagless at Alnwick Town before returning to Sunday league and a successful spell at manager of West Moor Social Club.
The only time he played alongside his brother, Les was in Sunday League for Burradon Social Club. They were however actually once named in the same Blyth team.
In November 1984 they both returned for Tommy Dixon’s testimonial.
Archie started and scored as a side featuring Dave Clarke, John Waterson, Ron Guthrie, Ronnie Scott, Alan Shoulder, Terry Johnson & Eddie Alder beat a Newcastle United XI 3-1.
Les came on as a sub for his brother in the second half, so despite being named in the same team they never managed to actually play together for the Spartans!.
Forward – Alan Shoulder.
Alan was a 25-year-old miner at Horden Colliery in 77/78, he had joined from Bishop Auckland in December 77.
He began playing for Leeholme Juniors before signing for Bishop Auckland in 1972, he was a regular in the league’s representative side and played in Bishop’s FA Cup run to the 2nd Round in 74/75. After 5 years at Kingsway, 77/78 season started with him in a dispute with the club which resulted him refusing to play, he played Sunday Morning football to keep fit. Having been persuaded to move to Croft Park by Brian Slane, the move was delayed by his dispute with Bishops who got the Northern League involved.
The wrangle meant he was forced to miss the Chesterfield 2nd round tie despite having made his debut the week earlier!.
Alan made a goalscoring debut on 10th December against Durham City in the 1-0 league win. His next goal sent Blyth through to the League Cup Semi Final with a 1-0 win at Horden CW the week prior to the Enfield cup tie.
Famously it was his 72nd minute header that sealed a place in the 4th Round.
He played every FA Cup tie after signing and scored 20 goals that season.
The following season he scored 7 goals before attracting the attention of Newcastle boss Bill McGarry. He scored twice in the FA Cup 1st Round replay defeat at home to York City watched by McGarry who made his move after the game.
Having joined Blyth for £200 he signed for Newcastle United for £20,000, and made his debut ironically against Stoke City exactly a year after making his Spartans debut!.
He went on to make 117 appearances for Newcastle scoring 38 goals with an average of a goal every other game. The arrival of Kevin Keegan saw Alan allowed to leave St James’, he was snapped up by Carlisle United manager Bob Stokoe on a free transfer.
His first season was explosive, he played 46 games and scored 21 goals which saw him win the Player of the Year award. It would be another 13 seasons before a Carlisle player scored more goals in a single season.
In 1985 he joined Hartlepool United on another free transfer. He scored on his debut and was their top scorer with 17 goals in 36 appearances. He played 76 games over 3 seasons scoring 26 goals. In December 1988 he was forced to retire from the professional game due to an eye injury.
Continuing to play part-time for Ferryhill Athletic, he then went into management as assistant at Gretna and coach at Newcastle Blue Star. He was caretaker at Gateshead before being appoint to the Croft Park hot seat in May 1988.
He was the last of the 77/78 players to manage the club but his reign only lasted 14 games, one of the shortest ever by a Blyth manager with only 4 wins from 14 games he resigned after an FA Cup defeat.
He also managed Crook Town Bishop Auckland, Willington & West Auckland and still played for Stanley, he was sent off at the ripe old age of 47 for arguing with a referee in a Durham Challenge Cup tie, he carried on playing ‘occasionally’ until he was 53 years old!.
Forward – Terry Johnson.
Terry was a 26-year-old store man at a local toiletries firm in 77/78.
He joined of the beginning of the season having been allowed to return to his native North East by Brentford due to being homesick.
However they had to agree to him playing for Blyth due to him still being registered with them and he wasn’t allowed to play full-time for anyone.
Terry had played for his school team and South East Northumberland Boys before joining Newcastle. Playing for United’s Under 18 teams before signing as a professional aged 17, he played for United’s Junior and Central league team. He was top scorer with 34 goals in his first season in the Central League team, in his last season with the club he scored 15.
Lack of first team opportunities saw him loaned out to Darlington in November 1969.
In January 1971, aged 22, he give up hope of making United’s first team and moved to Southend United for £7,000. Playing in their final 21 games of that season he scored 8 goals. He was a virtual ever-present for the next 3 season’s helping them win promotion to Division Three in 1971/72,. He was awarded Player of the Year for his performances in 72/73. In November 74 having played 168 times and scored 38 goals he was sold to Brentford for £15,000. He played 110 times scoring 30 goals before he left the club at the end of 76/77.
He scored 32 goals in his first season with Blyth as his experience showed at the crucial times. He scored in the 1st Qual win at Shildon, in the 2nd Qual. replay win over Crook and the 3rd Qual. win at Consett and twice at Stoke.
He scored in the 12th minute to put Blyth 1-0 up at the Victoria Ground before famously hammering home the dramatic last gasp winner that sent the Spartans into the 5th Round. As well know he then scored at Wrexham and in the replay at St James Park, he scored 32 goals in that season which his former club Brentford noted and looked into the possibility of taking him back to Griffin Park.
He also played for Bedlington Terriers briefly before returning to Croft Park and played until 1983 scoring a total 67 goals for the Spartans, his final goals came at Tow Law in April when he scored 4 in the 9-1 win that sealed the Northern League title.
After retiring he famously ran a very successful fruit & veg stall on Blyth market where his Spartans fame brought him regular customers every week.
- Credits, Acknowledgments & Thank you’s:
Ken Sproat’s superb book ‘The History of Blyth Spartans’ was a crucial source of information.
Andrew Griffins excellent 2006 books about the cup run
‘Two wins from Wembley‘ was another crucial source of information and images.
It is well worth a read with some great insight by those involved such as players, officials and supporters.
Kevin Tilmouth who once again provided rare memorabilia from his private collection that was used in this article.
Phil Castiaux who helped arrange the 40th Anniversary Reunion. Phil organised the players returning as guests of honour at homes games throughout the 2017/18 season.
He also interviewed them for the match day programme articles we produced throughout the season.
The following excellent websites provided important info and images: