You should never leave a football match early.

Being dropped off at Brewery Field the first impressions of Spennymoor Towns ground was not a disapointment. When you go inside everywhere is painted black to match the teams black and white colours and is spotless, all the terrace edges and steps have yellow edging for safety and the perimeter tarmac was faultless. There is a large seated stand in the centre of one side , covered seating behind one goal with standing on two sides which is covered behind the other goal. The clubhouse was busy with a mix of home and away supporters and there were covered hot food and drink kiosks in opposing corners, all in all, impressive.

I had gone to see Spennymoor Town F.C. play Plymouth Parkway in the Fourth Round of the FA Trophy. Plymouth had travelled 389 miles from their home ground, in all a 778 mile round trip, only 59 miles less than from John O’Groats to Lands End.

Plymouth are in the Southern League Division One South, two levels below Spenymoor who play in the National League North. Plymouth had already knocked out two teams from the National League South in previous rounds so there was a distinct chance of further giant killing.

The afternoon was dry but cold, the car had said 1.5 degrees as I had left it and I had no reason to believe that it was faulty. It was a still day with a background blue sky with some developing high cloud.

The pitch sloped quite steeply from end to end and had good green grass cover except in the goal mouths which had been sanded. It was surprising to see the teams using them in their warm ups and cutting them up further although remedial work was carried out on them before the off.

Plymouth Parkway were only set up in 1988 initially playing in Division 4 of the Plymouth District League and due to a sponsorship deal they were initially known as Ex – Air Flyers. After a year they moved to Parkway Sports Club. Successive promotions to the Plymouth District Premier League enabled them to apply and join a new Devon League in 1992 and in the next year changed their name to their current one. Their extraordinary journey continued in 1998 when they joined the new South West League and another turn was when in 2001 they fell out with their landlords, Parkway Sports Club, and had to play all of their games away from home until they found a new home, having played in Davenport for a while. Their new home Balhito Park was available from 2003 and it is where they remain today. Another evolution came in 2008 when they joined the newly formed South Western Peninsula League and in2016 they merged with another local Plymouth team Bar Sol Ona and in the same year gained a new local Entrepreneurial Chairman, Mark Russell who successfully steered them into the Sothern League Division One South where they sit today. Their story is of quite breathless progress.

Spennymoor Town have a shorter history only being formed in 2005 following the demise of two local clubs, Spennymoor United and Evenwood Town, the former having been born in 1904.

Their first game at Brewery Field was in the Northern League Division Two and two years later they were playing in Division One. As often happens growing pains caused some spectacular board room and managerial rifts and changes and although they won the Northern League four times and won the FA Vase in 2013 by beating Tunbridge Wells 2-1 in the final they weren’t admitted to the Northern Premier League until 2014. They finally went up into the Northern Premier League Division One North and two years later after successive play off spots they were again promoted, this time to the Northern Premier league, Premier Division. Their stay in the NPL was short as they were successful in another play off round and duly went up into the National League North where they sit today.

So an exiting game was expected between two of the Non League families high achievers of the past 20 years.

Spennymoor Town FC 3 Plymouth Parkway FC 1

Saturday 15th January 2022 kick off 3.00 pm Venue: Brewery Field

F A Trophy Fourth Round.

Moors v Parkway National League North v Southern League Division One North

Home Strip: Black and white vertical striped shirt with white sleeves and black shorts.

Away Strip: Yellow shirts with black arm band and navy blue shorts.

Plymouth kicked downhill in the first half but it was Spennymoor who had the better of the play and on 20 minutes Kyle Moore in the parkway goal did well to get his body in the way to prevent Glen Taylors goal bound header.

Nine minutes later it had all changed when the away team attacked down the right and Tom Bath advanced onto a cut back ball and curled it along the ground into the net for the lead.

Plymouths defense was standing strong and were able to rebuff any attack . They were dominant in the air and Spennymoor appeared to have run out of ideas by half time.

The attendance was announced at half time as a disappointing 670 of which there were 47 hardy fans from the South Coast.

Spennymoor now playing down hill continued to force the game and ten minutes into the second half Rob Ramshaw should have levelled when he skillfully beat the goalkeeper but his shot on goal only trickled forward to be cleared off the line by a Parkway defender. The home teams pressure continued and drew a few yellow cards.

With a few home supporters drifting away and towards the exit Luke Spokes latched onto a ball from a corner and was able to slot it home through a group of players to draw the teams level. Just three minutes later on 87 minutes the same happened again when from another corner Rob Ramshaw tapped home to send the players and home fans into delirium.

The third official held up the board for 7 minutes of added time and on cue Glen Taylor received the ball in the box, swiveled a nd curled the ball home to make it 3-1.

Plymouth did not give up but the seven minutes soon came to an end and their hard work that had kept them in front for most of the game had evaporated. All that was left was the thought of the long journey home but they had been on a very successful long journey to get this far and would not to be forgotten.

The game was high class and the facilities brilliant but I could not say that for the chips. Unfortunately the worst of the season, cold, limp, soggy with little taste. and half went in the bin resulting in a score of only 35.

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