Winn and Butler
It took 120 years and a manager from Seaham Kitchen Magic for Ryhope Colliery Welfare to make the Northern League. Wearside League champions four times in the 1960s, the days of Charlie Grose, Jackie Wilkinson and 4,500 cramming into the Recreation Ground for an FA Cup first round tie with Workington Town were a distant memory when Martin Swales was recruited from the Durham Alliance, where he'd just led his company team to a final success in the Washington Aged Peoples Cup. "Ryhope hadn't won a trophy for donkeys' years. I said I'd try and get them one," he told Northern Ventures Northern Gains. Swales's first season saw the club lift the Monkwearmouth Cup, last won back in 1967. The following year Ryhope joined Marske United and Newcastle Blue Star as only the third team to sweep all four Wearside League trophies in the same season after a penalty shoot-out at Willington AFC. Last season Swales and his players went even better - losing only one game in all competitions as they swept the board for a second time and were promoted to the Northern League. "68 games 1 defeat" the club's Twitter profile justifiably boasts.
Paul Kane prepares to put Seaham two goals ahead.
Propelled by the goals of ex-Magic striker Johnny Butler and 21-year-old Chris Winn - 59 between them in 22 league games alone - Ryhope top Division Two at Christmas, two places and eight points ahead of fast-improving Seaham Red Star. With Swales on holiday in Lanzarote, a subdued Ryhope fall two goals behind to a hard-working Red Star team, Channon North scoring from close range then earning a penalty which Paul Kane easily converts. "We were playing some lovely stuff earlier in the season," a home fan tells me, "but there's been no cohesion lately." "It's all back to front and the odd diagonal," says a visiting Northern League manager. "I was expecting a lot better."
Chris Trewick reduces the arrears shortly before an interval which is lengthened when Ryhope chairman Dave Hall collapses and is taken to hospital. A photographer from the local newspaper turns up, snaps some pictures from the halfway line then promptly disappears, North misses two chances to seal the win and Seaham see a shot smash back off the crossbar, but with time running out Chris Winn edges the ball on to Butler - almost the first exchange of passes between the two all game - from a throw-in and the point is enough to keep Ryhope ahead of Crook Town, 3-2 winners in the wilds of Tow Law. "It'd been coming all half," says Red Star assistant Simon Johnson," but I'm absolutely gutted."
Date: December 26th 2012