Away From The Numbers


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Ah the annual pre-season tour. The team bonding, the drinking, the naked penalties, the players jumping off bridges into rivers and, oh yes, the football.

This weekend East Fife embark on what seems like their umpteenth pre season sojourn down to County Durham to take on Durham City on July 17th and Spennymoor Town the following day.

Durham City FC Crest
It's a welcome return to Durham City Football Club, who made us very welcome and gave the Fife travelling faithful a lot of happy memories in 2006 (see match report and pics HERE).

Durham City were formed in 1918 and were actually members of the Football League from 1921 to 1928 before failing to gain re-election and becoming a non league Club once again and eventually disbanding in 1938. They reformed in 1950 but have remained a non leagie side till this day, although it is a currently exciting time on the pitch for the Club.

When we last played The Citizens they were a Northern League Division One side. Since that time the Club have gone from strength to strength, having just won back to back Championships and are rapidly climbing the English non league pyramid system.

Durham won the Northern League Division One in 2007/08 and the Unibond First Division North in 2008/09, a win which saw them promoted to the Unibond Premier Division and only two promotions away from the Conference and three from a return to the Football League! They are currently in Level 3 of the non league pyramid.

It's a great system they have down there. I just love the whole romance of the pyramid.

Last season was a treble winning season for the Club as they also won the Chairman's Cup and the J.R. Cleator Cup.

Durham City FC's Arnott Stadium
For those of you that made the trip down in 2006, you may notice a few changes at the stadium. When we last played there the ground was called Archibalds Stadium. It's still the same ground but now goes under the name of The Arnott Stadium (although it is also known locally as New Ferens Park). When we were last there there was the one stand and you could just walk around the rest of the ground. To meet with Unibond Premier League regulations, Durham have had to undertake some ground improvements this summer and have just finished building an uncovered two tier terrace behind the goal at the Soccarena end.

For directions to the stadium click HERE. This is also the Club's official website so have a read all about them.

East Fife ran out easy 3-0 winners last time around but it might well be a different story this year, as the Club scored 98 goals last season and only lost 3 games on their way to the Championship. Durham also have two pre-season games under their belts already - a 4-2 win against Bedlington Terriers and a 2-1 win against Whitley Bay.

So who are the men to watch? Last season City had a potent three prong strikeforce in top scorer Adam Johnston, Gavin Cogdon and Matthew Moffat, who scored 61 goals between them in all competitions. None of these three remain with Durham, which will be good news to the Fife defence!

Their summer signings have included another high scoring non league player in Alex Benjamin, but perhaps their best capture has been Paul Brayson from Newcastle Blue Star. Brayson is a prolific goalscorer who led the scoring in the Unibond North last season and has already found the net a couple of times in this season's pre-season games.

Durham City v East Fife Friendly Poster
Another important signing will be Stuart Elliott, another striker, who captained Grays Athletic in the Conference last season and has a wealth of experience including spells at Newcastle United, Reading and Cardiff City.

The game is scheduled to kick off at 7.30pm on Friday 17th July.

Admission is 5 for adults and 2 for concessions.

We don't know if they'll let us play football after the game on the pitch this time though but if they do, try and keep the clothes on this time lads!

The following afternoon, East Fife make the 17 or so mile trip south west to play Spennymoor Town.

East Fife have played in Spennymoor once before. Pre season 1994 (see HERE). But this isn't the same Spennymoor football team.

The team East Fife played that day was Spennymoor United FC. That Club were unable to complete their 2004/05 Northern Premier League campaign and were expelled from the League. Faced with rising debts, the Club folded.

Out of the ashes though, and thanks to the fans that wouldn't let their Club die, came Spennymoor Town FC.

The fans had formed a Club which was to be accepted into the Wearside League, but in a case of perfect timing, Evenwood Town found themselves homeless and were also about to fold.

The new Spennymoor club and Evenwood merged and moved into United's Brewery Field ground. Spennymoor Town was born.

The fans hope to change the Club's name back to Spennymoor United one day, but their initial application to do this was rejected by the FA in 2006.

The Club found a place in the Northern League Second Division (Level 6 in the football non league pyramid) and within two seasons were crowned Champions and Spennymoor have now established themselves as a Northern League First Division side, but they are now looking beyond that.

Last season Spennymoor finished fourth in Division One, level on points with the third placed Whitley Bay, and an agonising two points of the Championship and promotion. It was a rollercoaster season for The Moors, with their Chairman leaving the Club and reaching the last 16 of the FA vase.

GoF at Spennymoor's Brewery Field
The Club's Brewery Field home was nearly taken away from them in 2007 when the Council evicted them, but a new 25 year lease was worked out and the Club returned to their what has been Spennymoor's home for 105 years now.

The AFTN crew had a great time down in Spennymoor 15 years ago and we're not too sure what's changed there. They did have a cracking little social Club right next to the ground though, so hopefully that's still there for everyone.

The ground itself is/was a wee cracker. A proper football ground if you were - one stand and terracing all around. Hope it's not changed too much!

It's situated in a residential area in the Wood Vue are of the town, on Durham Road. If you're taking the A167 south from Durham, take the B6288 North Road turn off, then turn right onto Durham Road, stay on there and you won't miss it.

Spennymoor Town play in Black and White stripes and are nicknamed The Moors. If you really want to wind their fans up, get a few Bishop Auckland chants going! Their average attendance last season was 186.

So who should we watch out for in the match?

Well their big attacking threat should come from Gavin Cogdon who, as mentioned above, was on fire with Durham City last season with 22 goals and joined Spennymoor in June. The nippy Chris Lawther and former Darlington player Garry Barnes will be the other strikers to watch out for.

In the midfield watch out for Gareth Waite who had trial with Seattle Sounders last season and players with a lot of League experience like Keith Graydon and Craig Gott.

It should be an easier game than the Durham one, but we're sure a warm welcome will be awaiting one and all.

You can find out more about Spennymoor Town on their official website HERE.

The game kicks off at 3pm at the Brewery Field on Saturday 18th July and admission is free.

I wish I was making the journey down there myself, but to those of you who are going, have a great time and remember so send in your pics to AFTN for the fanzone section!