An Intro | Blyth Spartans AFC | Part 1

When it comes to British football name suffixes, very little comes close in being able to conjure up the romantic history of the beautiful game other than a brief history and explanation to the different suffixes used by football clubs.

A quick google search will give you a variety of different numbers as to how many ‘true’ suffices there are, depending on how many your count as true examples. For some people, for example, Dagenham & Redbridge is excluded, primarily because it is the name of two separate locations. Others, such as Vale and Stanley, are examples of unique one-off naming situations, whilst others – such as Villa or Forest – elude to a geographical connection.

Other names from other countries probably evoke similar meanings too; CSKA is a popular moniker affiliated with teams throughout Eastern Europe and the old Soviet Union, an abbreviation of ‘Central Sports Club of the Army’ that originated in the old soviet army.

Locomotive is also a fairly common one, and one that suggests the obvious (a team of railway workers), having been a shortened reference to the ‘Lokomotiv Voluntary Sports Society (VSS)’ that was associated with sports society in general.

However, I digress. Despite wanting to delve into other names such as Bayern and Borussia, one of the more unique references is ‘Sparta’ – Sparta Rotterdam and Sparta Prague being the most common names that spring to mind – a reference to the Sparta Army, who became one of the most feared military forces in the Greek world.

Blyth Spartans

Founded in 1899 by Fred Stoker, Blythe Spartans Association Football Club took their name from the combination of their geographical location and the Greek Spartan army, a military power that peaked between the 6th and 4th centuries BC.

Based in the picturesque surroundings of Northumberland, a civil parish situated in the north east of England, Blyth Spartans are part of deeper footballing identity that’s heavily affiliated with the most north easterly settlement of England.

Blyth takes its name from the River Blyth and is 13 miles north east of Newcastle upon Tyne, home to mighty Newcastle United, who are easily the most recognizable team in the before one reaches the Scottish boarder. 

Across the Tyne bridge is Gateshead, which is not only home to Blyth Spartans fiercest rivals Gateshead F.C., but also home to the production of world famous Newcastle Brown Ale (this used to be brewed in Newcastle, but production was relocated to a brewery across the river due to site closures and consolidation from its owners Scottish and Newcastle).

These two teams lie the in the humungous footballing shadows cast by not only the aforementioned Newcastle, but also their arch enemy Sunderland, a fierce rivalry that’s known throughout the footballing world.

Other contentions include local rivalries with Middlesbrough, also known as the ‘Tyne-Tees’ derby – being named after their respective rivers – but nothing comes close to when the Red and White stripes of Sunderland clash with the Black and White stripes of Newcastle. 

Other north east local rivalries are prevalent throughout the footballing pyramid. Vanarama National League side Hartlepool have a fierce rivalry against Darlington F.C. – originally called Darlington 1883 after the club reformed following bankruptcy in 2012 – who play in the Vanarama National League North, a division below. Both teams would generally have a more fierce rivalry with Middlesbrough, if it weren’t for the fact that Middlesbrough are so much further up the competitive footballing pyramid. 

Other geographically close common enemies include the mining town club Spennymoore Town, who are another team in the Vanarama North Division, based in County Durham. Along with Blyth and Gateshead, they make up the triumvirate that makes the Vanarama National League North games just that little bit more interesting.

The Entertainers

Newcastle as a football club are an iconic club but are probably most famous for two things; breaking the world record transfer fee in 1996 to bring home local boyhood hero Alan Shearer, and for almost winning the Premier League title in the 1995-96 season when by February, they had opened up a 12-point gap over their nearest title rivals Manchester United.

Les Ferdinand and David Ginola, c. 1990s

Dubbed ‘The Entertainers’ due to their swashbuckling style of attacking football, those who remember the 1995-96 season will look back upon that season as the closest that Newcastle have come to winning silverware since the 1950s.

But the season had an extra feel-good factor about it, embellishing the memories of Newcastle’s charge towards the title, as Kevin Keegans men played against the backdrop of Euro 96 – which was hosted by and almost won by England – Britpop and the release of Trainspotting. Compared to 1997, 1996 was a feel good year, emphasized all the more by the nostalgic fondness of Newcastle blowing teams away. 

Kevin Keegans famous ‘I’d love it if we beat them’ TV rant will go down as one of the greatest meltdowns within the Premier League era, and is generally seen as the beginning of the end of Newcastle’s title charge.

I WOULD LOVE IT IF WE BEAT THEM

However, Newcastle’s memorable 5-0 win over title rivals Manchester United and the epic 4-3 loss at home to Liverpool glosses over the reality of the campaign; despite their attacking intent, Newcastle finished the campaign having scored 66 goals, fewer than all previous Premier League winners before them. And despite having a reputation for being reckless in defense – a notion which is closer to truth when compared to the goals scored in relation to their attacking prowess and the numbers – they conceded only two more than eventual winners Manchester United.

And why is any of this relevant? Because where Newcastle have failed, Blyth Spartans will succeed.

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