Run and football 6 Whitley Bay 15th April 2023

Our Easter break finished yesterday so back home to the North East and more run and football action. Today’s activities take place in Whitley Bay, a seaside resort about 45 minutes from Stanley. Adrian lives nearby so we are meeting him there. Brian is also along for his first run and football adventure.

About the teams

Whitley Bay have had a strong season in the Northern League this season and are currently in 4th place. The team have greatly improved since manager Nicky Gray joined in January 2022. Formerly with Morpeth, Gray has brought several players he has worked with before to the club. Defeat last weekend effectively ended the Seahorses promotion chances.

The town’s first football club was founded in 1897 and the present club was founded as Whitley Bay Athletic in 1950, joining the Northern League in 1958 when the athletic was dropped. In the 1960’s the club were successful in the Northern League and FA Amateur Cup with a record crowd of 7,301 watching an Amateur Cup Quarter Final against Hendon. Three FA Vase wins in 2002 and successive seasons 2009-2010 and 2011 saw Whitley become the first side to win the trophy four times. After a few difficult years the club are once again heading in the right direction.

Heaton Stannington were officially founded in 1910 but footballing history goes back to 1903. After a short spell in the Northern League on both sides of the second world war the club returned to the Northern Alliance in 1952. Promotion to the Northern League second division came in 2013 and after a couple of near promotions during Covid the club finally reached the first division last Summer by beating Tow Law in a play off game.

So far this season Stan have built on their previous momentum and risen to 9th place in the table. With the teams above them only a few points ahead it remains possible the club could pick up a top 6 finish which would be an excellent achievement in their first season at this level.

Whitley Bay Ice Rink next to the ground

Going for a run

Despite Adrian living nearby he can’t find the car park and we meet outside the Ice Rink. It must be 25 years since I visited to watch ice hockey and make a mental note to watch a game next season. We cross the road and head for the sea. A nice easy pace swerving to avoid day trippers and shoppers enjoying the April sunshine.

A nice run next to the sea

St Mary’s Lighthouse is on our right. I’ve been there before, on a school trip almost 40 years ago. Can’t remember anything about the visit except I lost my 50p spending money on the journey and my mam went berserk when I got home. I may as well have lost £1 million. No such troubles today as we take the cliff top path and muddy field. The lighthouse could do with a clean or paint but the seals don’t seem to mind and enjoy their sunbathing.

Beach running

Running back via the beach is a great idea and I enjoy running on the wet sand. Brian and Adrian are enjoying the sun too and we reach the Spanish City in good time.

Spanish City from the beach

Whitley Bay V Heaton Stannington

A short time later we are back at the car park only to find it has been locked and we can’t get in. A quick explanation later and we can get to the car by going past the players tunnel. It’s lucky I’ve got some money to get us in to visit the car and get changed. Adrian tries to buy a pie at the refreshment stall but they don’t sell them. I’m the only person in the ground wearing a wooly hat.

The teams enjoy a joke in the tunnel

The game

Over 700 watched the Good Friday victory over Ashington and the crowd is building again today. The teams emerge from the tunnel to a good reception. Heaton start the best and they press forward. A couple of early warnings aren’t heeded and despite changing shape the home team are second best.

First half action

With five minutes left until halftime Whitley have their best chance of the half, Heaton quickly break and Konner Lamb’s shot from the edge of the box goes in off the post. It is a deserved lead for the away side but they almost concede moments later as Josh Gilchrist fires just over. Halftime score Whitley Bay 0 Heaton Stannington 1.

Heaton fan and flags

Second Half

The second half continues in a similar vein with Heaton maintaining pressure on the home side with some nice passing and quick breaks. Whitley Bay struggle to get anything going and quickly make a few substitutions. Cameron Brewis comes onto the field and looks positive from the start and has a hand in creating everything the Seahorses do in the last 20 minutes of the game. Heaton continue to press but just can’t find the second goal.

In the first minute of injury time they almost pay for their misses as a Josh Gilchrist rocket comes back off the inside of the post and away. Jordan Lashley makes the game safe in the 95th minute and Stan have the win. The car park is now unlocked and we head for home.

The two benches react to the second Heaton goal

Review of the day

A good run and a nice game. Both Adrian and Brian forgot their glasses so couldn’t read the programme. Although Whitley Bay will be disappointed with the result today they can be proud of their season. Heaton have had a very positive first season in division one and both sides can challenge next year.

Whitley Bay shirts for sale. Half the price of the Premier League

Entry Fee £8

Programme £2 full colour 36 pages

Attendance 558

Run fun 7/10

Parking availability 2/10

Match entertainment 6/10

Adrian’s pastry index none on sale

Whitley Bay FC website

Run on Strava

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