CONSETT - A brief history of the town and its football club.

 

 

 
 
Consett is situated 17 km south west of Newcastle upon Tyne and 19 km North West of Durham.

It was a community developed very much around the Consett Iron Works, an undertaking which was founded in 1837 and as this works expanded, so did the size of the community. There were other industries in Consett too, amongst the most prominent coalmining, light industry, farming and horticulture

The 1950s was a boom period in the Steel Industry and the Consett Works expanded to such an extent that the population of the town soar to some 35,000 at this period.

Until 1974 Consett was an urban district of County Durham and included in the district was Shotley Bridge, famous in the 18th Century for swordmaking by German cutlers; and Ebchester, on the site of a camp with an 11th century church built of Roman stone. The town was incorporated with Lanchester Rural District and Stanley Urban District to form Derwentside District under the Local Government of 1972.

Programme from FA Cup 1st round game v Doncaster Nov. 1958

With the depression which had been decimating the steel industry for many years, the local works shrank in size and eventually closed. This fact coupled with the closure of the local mines, resulted in a proportionate reduction in the populace, which by the 1991 census had dwindled down to 22,904.

 

 

 
  Consett’s football club was founded in 1899 as Consett Celtic. Their original ground was on land provided by the Iron Works, and went by the title of Vicarage Field. However, the club had to vacate the site in 1948 when the rapidly-growing works needed the land for expansion, so for a couple of years they played at Eden Colliery Welfare’s ground at Leadgate, until a suitable permanent home could be found.

Tommy Lumley

The new ground was named Belle Vue Park, and was largely constructed by voluntary labour, which moved tremendous amounts of cinders from local mine workings to form banking around the pitch. Two small stands were built, one on either side of the pitch, from concrete, brick and timber. The fee of £1,150 that Charlton Athletic paid for Tommy Lumley (a North Eastern League record at the time) paid for one of them. The opening game versus Sunderland Reserves in August 1950 attracted what is still the ground's record gate of 7,000.

The club played local football until joining the Northern Alliance in 1919. Seven years later they switched to the North Eastern League, winning promotion from the Second Division at the first attempt. From 1935-37 Consett spent two further seasons in the Northern Alliance before returning to the semi-professional North Eastern League. There they stayed until its demise in 1958, winning it in 1939-40, and its League Cup in 1951 and 1954. After two seasons in the Midland League The Steelmen became founder members of the Northern Counties League in 1960, winning the title in 1962. They returned to the reformed North Eastern League in 1962, but it folded again two years later. Consett joined the Wearside League, finishing runners-up in 1969 and 1970. The Sunderland Shipowners' Cup and Monkwearmouth Charity Cup were both won in 1968.

 

 

 
 

Consett were elected to the Northern League in 1970, and until recently their best season was 1976-77, when they tied at the top with Spennymoor United, but lost a Championship Play-off 3-0 at Willington - goal difference not counting at the time. They were in the 1st Division until 1987-88, when they were relegated, but made a swift return, winning the 2nd Division Championship the following season under Colin Carr, unbeaten at home in all competitions.

First Division status lasted 14 seasons until 2002-03, when they were relegated again. However, they repeated their previous feat by returning at the first attempt, only to suffer a third relegation the following season. The Steelmen, however, were promoted at the first attempt for the third time. They broke numerous records, starting with 19 consecutive wins, amassing 102 points, and a +103 goal difference. They also recorded their record Northern League win, 12-1 over Guisborough Town on 8th October 2005.

Consett have won the Durham Challenge Cup six times - in 1948, 1950, 1959, 1961, 1969, and, most recently, in 2007, when they beat Chester-le-Street Town 3-2 at Nissan, thanks to goals from David Pounder (2) and Kraig Wilkinson. That season also saw a fourth-place league finish.

The Steelmen won the Northern League Cup in 1994-95 when they beat Whitby Town 2-0 in the Final at Crook, with goals from Paul Staff and Carl Rowell. They had been runners-up on three previous occasions, in 1979,1981 and 1992.

v. Carlisle Res (H) September 1961, Northern Counties League

 

Programme from FA Cup 1st round game v Mansfield Nov. 1996

Consett have reached the 1st Round proper of the FA Cup twice. The first was in 1958-59, when they lost 5-0 at Doncaster Rovers. The second, in 1996-97, began with a 2-0 replay victory over Alnwick Town, followed by a 1-0 win at Harrogate Town. Next came Durham City away, where The Steelmen earned a 1-1 draw. However, Durham had fielded an ineligible player and were expelled. Consett then beat Bishop Auckland away, with Colin McLeod getting the only goal. The reward was a trip to meet Gateshead, where another great performance and McLeod goal earned a 1-0 win. Consett were then drawn away to Mansfield Town in the 1st Round, and the town became a focus of media attention for a few weeks. Over 1,000 people followed the team to Mansfield, and though losing 4-0 the players responded to the marvellous support and gave their all.

In 1997-98 Consett won the Sunderland Shipowners' Cup – normally only for Wearside League teams, but open to past winners for its centenary – by beating Jarrow Roofing 3-0 with goals from McLeod, Kelly and Suddes.

2007-08 rivalled 1976-77 as the club's best-ever season. They were among the front-runners for the title until the turn of the year. But their record run in the FA Vase, where they controversially exited at Merstham 5-4 after extra time, cost them dear. The games in hand proved too much for a relatively-small squad, and they had to settle for the runners-up spot behind Durham City.

Last season Kenny Lindoe's team came even closer, and twice came within seven minutes of lifting the Northern League title for the first time. A point from their last game at Whitley Bay would have made them champions, and they led 2-0 at half-time. But a second-half rally saw the Bay win 3-2 with a late winner. Three days later Newcastle Benfield travelled to Penrith needing a win to snatch the chanpionship from Consett's grasp, and got it with seven minutes to go, leaving the Steelmen as runners-up for the second year in a row.