Groundhopper: Stockton Town 3 Tow Law 2. (26/11/16). (Malcolm Stephenson)

Stockton Town 3 Tow Law 2. (26/11/16).

Northern League Division 2.

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I was just about out the door when I got a phone call to say the Blyth match at Altringham in the Trophy was off due to a frozen pitch. I was straight onto the internet to find a game somewhere before the wife got a chance to want to go to Asda or some other bright idea of spending a fruitless Saturday afternoon. I soon spotted this game and it was relatively short distance to travel.

I had been to Stockton Town just a few years ago but they have since moved grounds. The club were formed in 1979 and started as a 5 a side club for youngsters. They were initially called Hartburn Juniors but the club changed their name to Stockton Town in 2003.

Initially they played in the local Teeside league and then later the Wearside league. Stockton only joined the Wearside league in 2010. They finished 10th in their first season and 3rd the next. The last 4 years they were champions before finally getting promotion to the Northern league. This season Stockton played in the FA Vase for the first time and defeated Eccleshill Utd, Whitley Bay (former Vase winners) and Holker Old Boys before bowing out to Sunderland RCA.

Tow Law, today visitors, have a much longer history. They were formed in 1890 and have played in the Northern league for many years. In 1968 Tow Law beat Mansfield Town in the FA cup 1st round and were held at home to Shrewsbury in the second round proper. In the 3rd round draw Tow law would have been home to Arsenal if they had beaten Shrewsbury. Unfortunatly they lost the replay.. I wonder what Arsenal would have thought of Tow laws ground if they had beaten Shrewsbury. Apparently Tow Law had a few hooligans during their Vase run in 1998 and the nickname for some of their fans were ‘the misfits’. Most ‘nutters’ at any club only turn up for big games so there were no Stone island lads at Stockton today! Tow Law won the FA Vase in 1998.

The club is a community run club and field about 12 teams of all ages including girls. The club is called the Bishopton Road West ground and is based at Stockton 6th form college. The former ground was at the other side of the college. It’s a nice smart new set up but surprising was that there were no seats. Apparently this has to be rectified by March 2017 and plans are underway to install a 120 seater stand alongside the covered accommodation for standing spectators.

There is a 3G pitch installed and a decent set of floodlights which were bright when they came on. There is hard standing right around the pitch but no terracing as such. There are a few steps in the standing accommodation. At the end of the ground in the near corner are the changing rooms.

On entering the ground I immediately spotted two other ground hoppers. They were from Nottingham/Leicester area and had come up especially for this match.

It was a good game with end to end attacking football. Tow Law took the lead through Kevin Dixon but matt Craggs equalised with a tremendous free kick from outside the penalty area. It reminded me of Stephen Turnbull’s goal for Blyth at Hartlepool in the FA cup two years ago. Before half time Kelvin Thear restored the visitors lead. Into the second half and the pace continued with Tow Law possibly having a very slight edge in my opinion. However Stockton were not finished even with only

7 minutes left and still trailing. They pulled a goal back to make it 2-2 on 83 minutes with a goal from Tony Johnson. Then right at the end of the game on 89 minutes the home team scored again to win 3-2 after Sonni Coleman tucked away the winner. A great win for Stockton but probable disbelief for Tow Law.

 

Admission-£5

Programme-£1

Attendance-141

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