Month: April 2014

Three-year plan to be unveiled

The blueprint for the future of Durham Challenge Cup winners, Shildon Football Club will be presented in an open public meeting at Elm Road Club next weekend.

The meeting will take place at 10.30am on Saturday 10th May and a special invitation is extended to all Shildon supporters and to all of the club’s sponsors.

Shildon AFC Director, David Dent, whose company founded the Shildon AFC Development Centre, will outline the football club’s ambitions for the next three years.

Mr Dent will speak about where the club is now, the obstacles it must overcome to achieve continued success, the Board of Directors’ vision for the future, how it means to achieve that vision and what that means for the wider Shildon community.

Speaking about the presentation Mr Dent said: “This has been a tremendously successful season for the football club. We came third in the Northern League Division One behind two clubs that have invested heavily in recent years and of course we won the Durham FA Challenge Cup for the first time in 41 years in front of a crowd of over 1,000 spectators on Good Friday.

“We see this success as the first of many trophies we want to bring to the club, including the league title, which Shildon has not won since the 1930s.

“On Saturday 10th May, I will outline our vision for the future of the club and we want to reach out and engage with the entire Shildon community. Football is a sport like no other. It has the ability to bring entire communities closer together and we hope in the coming years to make Dean Street a place that all of Shildon will be proud to visit to support their local club.

“Shildon Football Club is not just the team that plays in the Northern League top flight; we now have sides at every age group from under six to under 18 together with a Reserve side.

“The community will play a vital part in the future development of the club and we look forward to seeing as many people as possible at Elm Road Club on Saturday 10th May. I am confident the public will be as excited as we are about the club’s future plans.”

The presentation will be immediately followed by the Shildon AFC Supporters Club’s next meeting. Anyone who wishes to remain behind is welcome to join proceedings, and to join the Supporters Club should they wish.

There will also be an opportunity at the meeting to sign up to a regular electronic newsletter from the football club.

Pre-season fixtures arranged

The curtain may have only just fallen on the 2013-14 season, but Shildon are already well ahead in their preparations for next season.

The club’s pre-season friendlies – subject to any changes – have now been finalised and include a prestigious friendly against Scottish League side, Stranraer FC. Midweek games are expected to kick off at 7.30pm, unless otherwise indicated, while weekend games will kick off at 3pm.

The fixtures list – subject to any changes – is:

Saturday 12th July: Shildon begin their pre-season fixtures with a visit to Tow Law.

On Wednesday 15th July Shildon will travel to Blyth to taken on the Spartans, who play in the Northern Premier League Premier Division.

Friday 18th July: In a return friendly, Shildon will welcome Scottish League One side Stranraer to Dean Street for our first home friendly of the season.

On Monday 21st, the Railwaymen are on their travels again to visit Northern League bound, Ryhope Colliery Welfare.

Wednesday 23rd sees an opportunity for the lads to add to their trophy cabinet when the winners of the Durham Challenge Cup will meet Guisborough Town, the winners of the North Riding Cup, to play for the Eric Powles Trophy. The match will take place at Guisborough Town’s King George V Stadium.

On Friday 25th July, Scottish Junior league side (the Juniors are the Scottish equivalent of the English non-league system) Tayport FC will be visiting Dean Street.

The Railwaymen will return home to welcome Heaton Stannington to Dean Street on Wednesday 30th July.

Finally, on Friday 1st August is the annual John Hay Memorial Trophy which will again be played at Seaham Red Star this year. Shildon lifted the inaugural trophy last season.

The 2014-15 season is expected to get underway on Saturday 9th August.

Shildon are Champions!

The 41-year wait is over and Shildon AFC are once more Champions of Durham!

A stunning late comeback with two Billy Greulich-Smith goals snatched the Durham FA Challenge Cup from Spennymoor Town’s grasp at Central Avenue Stadium in Billingham this lunchtime.

Spennymoor took a 1-0 lead into the interval when Keith Graydon scored just before the break and it must have looked like their name was on the cup when Ben Wood’s goal just after the restart was ruled out for offside.

With 15 minutes remaining, Spennymoor could have wrapped the match up, but the woodwork prevented them doubling their lead.

It was a chink of hope for Shildon, and with just eight minutes remaining, the Railwaymen forced their way back into the game when Billy Greulich-Smith equalised.

And with extra time looming, up popped Billy again to turn the game on its head and give Shildon the lead with seconds remaining!

The three minutes of injury time were the longest in many a Shildon fan’s lifetime, but there was no way back for Spennymoor and when the referee blew the final whistle, Shildon were crowned champions of Durham!

The fans and players will undoubtedly celebrate well into the night and will be looking to ensure it is not another 41 years before the feat is repeated!

For now, congratulations to Gary, Stuart, Phil, Keith, Dean and Amy and all the lads for a magnificent effort and thank you to all the fans who turned out to support the side, as well as all the fans looking out for updates around the world on a day that will be written permanently into the history of Shildon Football Club.

And in case you all missed it first time around, here it is again: Shildon are the 2013-14 Durham Challenge Cup Champions!

After the game, Wilf Tray caught up with the winning goalscorer, Billy Grulich-Smith and manager Gary Forrest. This is what they had to say:

Shildon dares to dream!

When Shildon defeated their local rivals, Bishop Auckland to win the Durham Challenge Cup for the second time in 1925-26 (the first victory coming in 1907-08 as Shildon Athletic) little did they know that it would take another 41 seasons (the intervention of the Second Word War cancelling all competitive football for several years) before they would see their name etched on the cup again.

In the 1971-1972 season, the patient Shildon fans once more celebrated with their players as they proudly held the trophy aloft after overcoming Durham City.

Now another 41 seasons have passed and Shildon are once more in the final, this time against another local rival, Spennymoor Town. If history was written by numbers, then those numbers are surely aligning themselves for the Railwaymen.

The players have given their all this season, reaching heights that no one would have credited them with after a stuttering start to their league and cup campaigns. But if any group of players deserved some reward for their efforts this season, it is surely this group of Dean Street’s finest for many a year.

Gaffer, Gary Forrest, has taken the club from relegation candidates to league and cup challengers and now, on the eve of an historic day, the fans dare to dream!

A new chapter in the history of Shildon Football Club is ready to be written, and this group of players are ready to write it. We wish them every good fortune on the field of play tomorrow as they attempt to turn theirs and our dreams into reality.

The Durham Challenge Cup Final will kick off at 10.45am on Good Friday at Billingham Synthonia’s Central Avenue Stadium. Entry is just £5 and £2 concessions.

Dare to dream with the Railwaymen!


Gary Forrest interview

Last night Shildon played their last home match of a wonderfully successful season. To date the side are second in the league and halve the best away record of any side. After the match, Archie MacKay spoke to Gary Forrest about the game, the season and the forthcoming Durham Challenge Cup final on Friday: