Monday, April 05, 1999

Dunston Federation Brewery FC

Dunston Federation Brewery 1 Shildon 1 - Northern League, Division One

Dunston was originally an independent village on the south bank of the River Tyne. It has now been absorbed into the Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead in the county of Tyne and Wear. Much of Dunston forms part of the inner Gateshead regeneration area. To the west of Dunston is the site of Dunston Power Station, now demolished. The site is now home to the MetroCentre, which is the largest shopping and leisure centre in Britain. Another Dunston landmark is the Derwent Tower, commonly known as the "Dunston Rocket", a tower block completed in 1973 that was once the highest in Gateshead. Dunston is particularly known for its wooden staithes, first opened in 1893 as a structure for loading coal from the North Durham coalfield onto ships. In the 1920s 140,000 tons of coal per week was loaded from the staithes, and they continued to be used until the 1970s. They were finally closed and partially dismantled in 1980, but later restored and reopened for the Gateshead Garden Festival in 1990. Though other parts of the Garden Festival site, such as the Eslington and Norwood areas, gained an immediate spur for regeneration, the area around the staithes remained derelict and inaccessible for the whole of the 1990s. Footballers Paul Gascoigne and Ray Hudson and lead singer of AC/DC Brian Johnson grew up in Dunston, and champion rower and boat-builder Harry Clasper was born in Dunston.

Originally known as Whickham Sports FC, the club became Dunston Mechanics FC in 1982. Following a sponsorship arrangement, the club changed name again to Dunston Federation Brewery FC in 1986. From their formation in 1975 to 1980 they were members of the Northern Amateur League, before moving to the Northern Combination League, and then in 1987 the Wearside League, where they won the title twice. In 1991 The Fed joined the Northern League, when they reached the Quarter-Finals of the FA Vase in the 1992–93 season and also became Division Two Champions.

My visit to Tyneside on this Easter Monday was primarily to watch Spurs play at Newcastle in the evening. Whitley Bay’s fixture with Gretna was to take place at 3pm and I was delighted to discover that Dunston’s match with Shildon was scheduled for 11am. I caught the 7am train from London Kings Cross which arrived at Newcastle at 10am. I was met by a couple of associates who had travelled up the day before and we took a cab the short distance across the Tyne to Federation Park.

On arrival a club official greeted us as he arrived with milk for the refreshments. He immediately asked if I was the gentleman that had phoned the previous evening (I was) and announced that we would be guests of the club for the match. A very nice gesture that we really appreciated. Apart from complimentary admission we were given tea before the match and invited into the boardroom at half time. An evenly contested match saw the spoils shared and my first ever ‘three matches in a day' was off to a good start.

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