Chester-le-Street Town Football Club (known as The Cestrians) is still a young football club when you consider that some clubs have been around since 1862. The club was founded in 1972 when a group of fans got together in a local pub and formed Chester-le-Street Garden Farm, which was the name of the pub which they had come up with the idea. The club joined the Newcastle City Amateur League in 1972 and played on a pitch in Low Fell, Gateshead. After one season they secured a pitch at the Riverside, Chester-le-Street, this was the home ground until 1977.
In 1975 the club joined the Washington League and went on to win the Championship, the Durham Minor Cup and the Washington A.M. Cup. The Garden Farm team then moved to the Sacriston C.W. ground (which is where Sacriston C.F.C. Play today) and were admitted to the Wearside League in 1977. It was at this point in time that the club changed the name to Chester-le-Street Town Football Club.
The Cestrians went on to win The Wearside League in 1980/81 and were also runners up in 1982/83, they also won the Monkwearmouth Cup twice in 1980/81 and 1981/82.
In 1980 it was time for the club to move to a more permanent home and so they moved to Chester Moor Park the ground originally only had dressing rooms and a perimeter fence. In the 24 years since there has been significant improvements to the ground including a 200 seater stand, uncovered terrace, floodlights, new dressing rooms and spectator toilets and also a clubhouse. In total there has been over £100,000 spent on the club in order to get it up to Northern League standards.
The club was admitted to the Northern League in 1983 and won the 2nd Division Championship in the first season. The club had some successful seasons in the Northern League 1st Division but they were then relegated back to the 2nd Division where they remain today.
This year the club is making further improvements to the ground one of which has been the installation of a MUGA (Multi Use Games Area) pitch. The pitch will be used to help train the 16 youth teams which range from Under 7’s to Under 18’s. It will also be available for hire as proved when recently some of Sunderland’s Academy of Light played on the new pitch.
I spoke to the Chairman, Joe Burlison, recently and he told me that they are looking to make further improvements to the ground including updating the main pitches floodlights.
At the moment the club is looking to gain a Charitable Incorporated status, with this they will be able gain access to more funds which in turn will allow for continued improvements around the ground.
The club is one of a few that do not actually have a budget to pay the players it has been this way for the last few seasons. This is a factor that proves the players at the club have a genuine love of the game and the club as they come back season after season. You wouldn’t hear of a Premier League player doing this as for most of them it seems to be about the money.
Wearside League Champions 1980/81
Monkwearmouth Cup Winners 1980/81 & 1981/82
Northern League Division 2 Winners 1983/84 & 1997/98
Durham Challenge Cup Runners-up 2006-07
I have now been going to CLS Town FC games for about 2 years now, I have taken the team photograph for the last 2 seasons and also this season I took the individual player photos. When I’m not going to Moor Park I am at Gateshead International stadium as I am one of Gateshead FC’s club photographers. I used to think that the only football that matters is in the Premier League especially the team that I have supported since I was a lad, Newcastle United. However, now that I have been to 110 non league games since February 2013, 38 of them just this season alone, I now know where my preference lies.
One of the many differences in non league football apart from not going to see over paid, over rated players is that everyone from the Chairman done are friendly and will be more than happy to talk to you. This is most certainly something that you would not be able to do at a Premier League club.
I would like to see CLS Town FC gain promotion from the EBAC Northern League 2 to the 1st division and also increase the fan base. When I have spoken to friends about the non league scene they always say that it’s a poorer quality league and that they may consider going to games if the teams improved. Countless times I have tried to remind them that teams can’t improve without an increased fan base as they don’t have multi millionaire owners who can splash the cash.
Part of the reason for me writing this is to try and increase the gate at home games to see my home town club become an overall better team as I know they can be.
Upcoming home fixtures (depending on weather):
Sat 14th CLS Town FC vs Esh Winning 3pm KO
Sat 28th CLS Town FC vs Darlington RA 3pm KO
Tue 31st CLS Town FC vs Seaham Red Star 7.30pm KO
Sat 11th CLS Town FC vs Thornaby 3pm KO
Sat 25th CLS Town FC vs Ryhope CW 3pm KO
Changes to fixtures can be found on the clubs website; http://www.chester-le-street-townfc.co.uk/