Blyth Spartans Association Football Club
Ground Croft Park, Blyth, Northumberland, England (Capacity: 4435 (563 seated))
Chairman Tony Platten
Manager Tom Wade
Blyth Spartans were founded by Mr. Fred Stoker in September 1899, who was the club's first secretary before forming a practice as a distinguished physician in London’s Harley Street. He thought it appropriate to name the team after the Greek Spartan army in the hope that the players would give their all as they went into "battle" on the field of play.
In the beginning, the club played only friendly matches before joining the Northumberland League in 1901. The first recorded honour being a league success in 1901 followed by further victories in1905/06 and 1906/07. The club then joined the Northern Alliance, remaining there for six seasons winning the league in 1908/09 and 1912/13.
In 1913 the club moved upward joining the ranks of the semi professionals in the North Eastern League and remained there until it folded in 1958. The fierce competition meant that honours were far and few between, the league was however won in 1936/37 season and the league cup won in 1950 and again in 1955. After the demise of the North Eastern League the club tried their luck in the Midland League and Northern Counties League, both ending when the leagues folded. The early 1960s saw the revival of the North Eastern League with the club doing quite well. However the league suffered many problems and eventually folded for good.
The club was now at a loss for a suitable semi-professional league and in 1964 decided to turn amateur and join the ranks of the Northern League. During the 29 years the club were members their record was second to none, winning the Championship on 10 occasions and being runners up 5 times. However, a new regime at the club was keen to progress up the league pyramid and a successful push ended with promotion to the Northern Premier League in the 1993/94 season.
The clubs first ever season in the Northern Premier League was memorable, winning the First Division Championship and the Unifilla First Division League Cup. Since gaining promotion the club held its own in the Premier division, finishing 6th and 7th in its first two seasons as well as lifting the Presidents Cup defeating former Conference side Runcorn in the final.
In recent years the executive looked firstly to John Charlton followed by Paul Baker as team managers but these successive managers were without the required success demanded by the fans, and so the experienced Harry Dunn was appointed in October 2004 for a second time. In 2005/06 Harry Dunn and his assistant Graham Fenton continued creating a further notch in the Spartans history by winning the Northern Premier League Premier Division as well as the Northern Premier League Chairman’s Cup and the Peter Swailes Memorial Shield, and with it promotion to the Conference North. In their first season in the Conference North Blyth cemented themselves in the top half of the table whilst even enjoying a brief stint in 1st place. The season ended with Blyth narrowly missing out on a playoff position on the final day finishing 7th.
After an initial successful first season, Blyth found themselves at the opposite end of the table the season after. But some wins towards the end of the season including a 2-0 win against Champions Kettering Town saw Blyth preserve their Conference North status. The third season was a similar story with Blyth again struggling for much of the season but grabbing important wins towards the end of the season to avoid the drop. A relatively comfortable 15th place finish did not give much clue as to the frantic battle against relegation which had preceded it.
After two successful campaigns to preserve Conference North status the end of the 2008/09 season saw the end of Harry Dunn’s second spell at Croft Park. No time was wasted in appointing his successor and on 9 May former Hartlepool United, Darlington & Sheffield United Reserves Manager Mick Tait took up the post for his second spell in charge at Croft Park.
FA Cup exploits
Blyth Spartans have reached the first round proper of the FA Cup on 32 times; the second round 15 times; the third round 4 times, the fourth round once and the fifth round once.
Blyth reached the fifth round of the FA Cup in 1977-78. Having beaten Chesterfield and Stoke City (who had recently been relegated from the top flight) in the third and fourth rounds respectively, the club were drawn to play away at Wrexham where they drew 1-1. The replay took place at Newcastle United's St James' Park where, watched by a crowd of 42,167 Blyth eventually went out losing 2-1.
In 1980 Blyth played Hull City in the 2nd Round which saw two replays, the final of which was played at Leeds United's Elland Road.
Blyth's next memorable cup run came in their first season as a Northern Premier League Premier Division club in 1995/96 when they travelled to high flying Division Three side Bury and won 2-0. In the second round Blyth again were on their travels this time to Division Two side Stockport County where they lost 2-0.
In 1997/98 under the managership of John Burridge Blyth travelled to Second Division side Blackpool. A memorable game saw Blackpool run out 4-3 winners with a last minute winner.
It was 11 years before Blyth reached the 1st round again, but finally in 2008 Blyth hit the cup trail again. Qualifying Round wins against Whitby Town, Buxton and Sheffield FC saw Blyth reach the 1st Round for the first time since 1997. A home tie against League Two promotion chasers Shrewsbury Town saw Croft Park host league opposition for the first time since 1981. The result matched the occasion as Blyth ran out comfortable 3-1 winners.
The Second Round saw Blyth travel to League Two strugglers AFC Bournemouth who included Darren Anderton amongst their players. A hard fought 0-0 draw on the South Coast saw Blyth take Bournemouth back to Croft Park where Ged Dalton put Blyth through to the Third Round with a last minute winner. Both games were shown live on Setanta Sports.
In the Third Round, Blyth played Premiership opposition competitively for the first time in their history when they welcomed Blackburn Rovers to Croft Park. In a game again covered live by Setanta Sports Blyth fell to a 1-0 defeat with the only goal coming via a direct free kick from Chilean player of the year Carlos Villanueva in 59th minute
- East Northumberland League Champions 1903–04, 1905–06, 1906–07
- Northern Alliance League Champions 1908–09, 1912–13
- North Eastern League Champions 1935–36
- North Eastern League Cup Winners 1950–55
- Northern League Champions 1972–73, 1974–75, 1975–76, 1979–80, 1980–81, 1981–82, 1982–83, 1983–84, 1986–87, 1987–88
- Northern League Cup Winners 1972–73, 1977–78, 1978–79, 1984–85, 1991–92
- Northumberland Senior Cup Winners 1914, 1915, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1952, 1955, 1959, 1963, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1981, 1982, 1985, 1992, 1994
- Cairns Cup Winners 1905–06, 1906–07
- Tynemouth Infirmary Cup Winners 1908–09, 1909–10, 1932–33
- Tyne Charity Shield Winners 1913–14
- Tyne Charity Shield Joint Holders 1925–26
- Northumberland Aged Miners Homes Cup Winners 1909–10, 1911–12, 1919–20, 1936–37, 1938–39
- Northumberland Aged Miners Homes Cup Joint Holders 1920–21
- Debenhams Cup Winners 1978
- J.R. Cleator Memorial Cup Winners 1982, 1983, 1984, 1988, 1992
- Beamish Trophy Winners 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997
- Northern Premier League Premier Division Champions 2005–06
- Northern Premier League Division One Champions 1994–95
- Northern Premier League First Division Cup Winners 1994–95
- Northern Premier League President's Cup Winners 1996–97
- Northern Premier League Chairmans Cup Winners 2005–06
- Peter Swales Memorial Shield Winners 2005–06
- South Tyneside Football Benevolent Fund Gazette Cup Winners 1995–96