Ahead of Friday night’s FA Cup tie at Victoria Park we get to know a little bit more about our Evo-Stik Northern Premier League opponents with a full A to Z…
A is for Ali Dia
The former Senegalese footballer is now retired but famously won a place in the squad at Premier League Southampton after convincing then boss Graeme Souness that he was George Weah’s cousin! He won a short-term deal with The Saints just after making one substitute appearance for Blyth Spartans against Boston United back in 1996.
B is for Brother
Blyth’s Spanish forward Samuel Perez is the brother of Newcastle’s in-form Ayoze Perez. Indeed, when he’s not playing for Spartans, Samuel acts as a chaperone to his brother.
C is for Croft Park
Croft Park has been home to Blyth Spartans since September 1909. It was formally opened with a match against neighbours Newcastle United which the visitors won 4-2. It’s undergone development work over the years, most recently in 2003 and 2007 when it was upgraded to meet Conference North requirments.
D is for Daniel Maguire
Spartans prolific front man Daniel Maguire is well-known to Pools boss Paul Murray. The striker spent time on trial with Oldham Athletic last term while Murray was Assistant Manager of The Latics. He scored twice in Blyth’s 4-1 win over Altrincham in the previous round of the FA Cup taking his total to five in this year’s competition.
E is for Epic Cup Tie
Back in 1925, Blyth Spartans were drawn to play Pools in the FA Cup and it was to be tie of epic proportions. It took THREE replays for the sides to be divided, including games at Newcastle’s St James’ Park and Sunderland’s Roker Park. Spartans eventually won through but were hammered 5-0 by Accrington in the next round.
F is for Fred Stoker
The founder of the club and Blyth Spartans first secretary was a gentleman by the name of Fred Stoker. It was back in September 1899 when they came in to being and Stoker was at the forefront of it before he moved south to open a doctor’s practice in London’s Harley Street.
G is for Greek Spartan Army
The name ‘Spartans’ has been with Blyth since their inception over 100 years ago and was coined by their founder who felt a name like that would help inspire the team to do battle on the pitch.
H is for Harry Dunn
In October 2004 Blyth Spartans appointed Harry Dunn to the Croft Park hotseat and he set about bringing real success to the Northumberland club. In 2005/06 they won the Northern Premier League and promotion to Conference North. He remained in place until 2009 when former Pools boss Mick Tait took over the reins.
I is for Internationals
Spartans defender Danny Parker has represented his country at England C level, as has hotshot front man Daniel Maguire. Former Sunderland defender Jordan Watson has also played for Northern Ireland at Under 19 level.
J is for Johnson
Pools legend Ken Johnson enjoyed playing in the FA Cup against Blyth Spartans. The late star scored the only goal of the game in Pools’ win in 1956, while he was also on target during our 5-1 win over them five years later.
K is for Kit Man
Pools Kit Man Martyn Brown has a claim to fame over Blyth Spartans star Peter Jeffries – having scored a hat-trick past him in a Sunday League game! Brown was playing for Blackhall Cricket Club against Jeffries’ Traveller’s Rest side but the keeper was powerless to stop our Kit Man finding the net three times. Let’s hope he’s passed on some tips to the Pools’ strikers…
L is for League Titles
Blyth Spartans were founded in 1899 and began playing competitively in the Northumberland League in 1901. They went on to win the title on three occasions before joining the Northern Alliance which they won twice prior to a move in to the North Eastern League.
M is for Miles
This is a relatively short FA Cup trip for Blyth who have been drawn away in four of their five rounds of the competition so far this season. Having been to Darlington, Skelmersdale, Mickelover and Leek the Spartans have covered 1,184 miles in away fixtures to date. Friday night’s will add another 82-mile round trip to the total.
N is for Nathan Buddle
The young Spartans defender was offered a professional contract at Pools back in 2012 after impressing during his scholarship with the Club. However, he couldn’t make the breakthrough in to the First Team at Victoria Park, making the bench twice as an unused substitute.
O is for Occupations
The majority of Blyth’s players have jobs as well as playing football for the Croft Park outfit. Among their ranks they have a scaffolder, a labourer, a passport office worker, a plumber, a taxi driver, a barman and a Nissan worker as well as several students.
P is for Peter Jeffries
The Blyth Spartans keeper was particularly pleased when his side were drawn against Pools – because he’s from Hartlepool and a former Season Ticket holder at The Vic. The talented keeper is a former Dyke House pupil and admitted he loved nothing better than watching Gordon Watson hitting the net for Pools.
Q is for Quakers
While the two clubs may be enemies on Friday night for the duration of the game, Blyth Spartans have already done one thing that may have pleased Pools fans this season – they knocked Darlington out of the FA Cup after a replay in the First Qualifying Round.
R is for Robbie Dale
One of the Blyth Spartans most iconic and famous players, Robbie Dale is still proving his worth for the Northumberland outfit whether employed on the wing or up front. In 2006 his form was so good for The Spartans that he was not only named Player of the Year but also scooped the Unibond Premier Division Golden Boot. He has scored in every round of this year’s FA Cup so far, including two in their 4-1 triumph over Altrincham in Round One.
S is for Stephen Turnbull
The midfielder came through the ranks at Victoria Park alongside his twin brother Phil. Nicknamed ‘Twinny’ his talent was obvious and he turned professional with Pools in the summer of 2006 and went on to make 25 appearances for the Club before his departure in 2008. His involvement in the FA Cup hasn’t always been as memorable as this season – in 2006 Bury were thrown out of the competition for fielding the midfield man when he was ineligible whilst on loan from Pools!
T is for Tom Wade
The current Blyth Spartans boss has been at the Croft Park helm since last March when he stepped up to replace Paddy Atkinson, following his resignation. A boyhood Blyth fan and former Newcastle Benfield and Gateshead boss, Wade will take charge of his 100th game when Spartans visit Victoria Park on Friday night.
U is for Underdogs
Non-league Blyth begin the game as outsiders to progress with Sky Bet offering odds of 5/1 on the visitors winning inside ninety minutes at The Vic. Pools are rated 1/2 favourites, while you can back the tie to go to a replay at a price of 3/1.
V is for Very Different
The last time Blyth Spartans played against Pools was in a pre-season friendly at Croft Park in July 2011. Robbie Dale and Neal Hooks are the only two who played in that game who are likely to feature for the visitors at The Vic on Friday, while Pools have Darren Holden, Jordan Richards and Lewis Hawkins still in their ranks.
W is for Wrexham
In 1977/78 it was Blyth Spartans who grabbed the headlines on behalf of non-league clubs everywhere when they embarked on an incredible FA Cup run. They made it all the way through to Round Five before being cruelly knocked out by Wrexham after a replay. It remains their longest run in the competition.
X is for X-Men
There are number of players who have played for both clubs at some level down the years. As well as Stephen Turnbull and Nathan Buddle, Ryan Cummings and Damen Mullen have also been on the books at Pools in the past. Current Pools defender Josh Nearney played for Spartans at early junior level, while the late Michael Maidens had a loan spell there at the start of 2007/08. Jordan Mellish, Callum Martin and Lee Mason all played for Pools before going on to join Blyth too.
Y is for Youth Cup
Spartans boss Tom Wade has a cup victory over Pools under his belt in the past having been on the winning side against Pools when he played for New Hartley Juniors in the FA Youth Cup.
Z is for (New) Zealand
Winger Adrian Webster enjoyed two spells with Blyth Spartans, the first in 2007/08 before returning briefly in 2010. In June 2005 he made his international debut for New Zealand in a 1-0 loss to Australia and went on to play five times for his country.