End of an era as Morpeth Sunday League folds

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After 54 years existence, the Morpeth Sunday League has ceased to operate.

At their recent Annual Meeting it was decided they would be unable to function due to two of last season’s clubs folding, whilst another has applied to join another league. This left the league with only five clubs in its current format.

There has been a dramatic drop in numbers from the 40-odd clubs of just a few seasons ago, and this highlights the drop in grass-roots football which is nation-wide.

The Sunday League had provided football in the east and north of the county since the 1962/3 season, and had consisted of four divisions in it’s hey-day.

Initially introduced for clubs in the Morpeth area, it soon had to expand it’s boundaries to include clubs from as far as Amble, Alnwick, Longhoughton, and RAF Boulmer in the north, and Ponteland and Newburn to the west, as well as accomodating teams from HMP Acklington, over the years.

Many young players took their first steps in adult football in the league, and it was also a breeding ground fora lot of referees, some of whom progressed to the Football League, and into international competitions, including current top referees Michael Oliver, and Mark Clattenburg.

It is a great disappointment to last season’s champions Amble Tavern, who also won the County Sunday Cup, as well as their domestic cup victories.

There have been many long-serving league officials who have qualified for county recognition of their service to football, such as the late Ken Gray, who was chairman for over 40 years, as well as current chairman Jim Hogg, and committee member Ernie Nicholson.

Long-serving treasurer John Mason (53 years) and president Syd Johnson (54 years) have been recognised by The Football Association recently, and this presentation will take place at an event in Morpeth, at which it is hoped many associates of the league over the years, including several Life Members, will attend.

It is surely very rare for two officials from the same league being recognised by the FA at the same time. It is hoped that this will be a fitting celebration to all former players, referees, club officials, and associates from the past, who have been instrumental to the Morpeth Sunday League story.

The date and venue for this event will be announced and publicised, as soon as possible.