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Saturday 24th January 2009 ko 11.00

Northern Alliance First Division

PERCY MAIN AMATEURS 2 (Betts 46 McEnaney 72)


Att 61

Entry £1

Programme 50p

If a small football club’s management is reading this and wants a one-off financial boost they could do worse than read this- with the one caveat being don’t try this if your club will be on an organised hop in the near future. Because even after 11 years after the event the adage still holds true- kick off at a weird time and do programme and you will attract groundhoppers.

Here the reason why 40 or so groundhoppers trekked up to North Shields in the wee small hours was because the visiting team wanted to go on a stag weekend that afternoon, so asked Percy Main for an early kick off. They agreed, publicised the game and the rest is history. And yes, there were no end of groundhoppers who only asked two questions- “Is there a programme?” and “When is kick-off?” I’m now used to the programme being the be-all and and end all for some, but surely there’s more to the decision whether to attend than just whether there’s a magazine on sale? 

While these days Percy Main these days is subsumed into North Shields, it does still have its own Metro station it does have a quite coalmining history, the “Main” or colliery being owned by the Percy family. The Percys were the Dukes Of Northumberland; the 6th Lord Percy looked likely to marry Anne Boleyn before Henry VIII took a shine to her with rather tragic results for her!

Percy Main FC were formed 1919, as quite a few clubs were, by demobbed soldiers returning from World War I and have always played at Middle Row Park, which was renamed Purvis Park in 1996 after the late Ian Purvis who served the club for over 50 years. The club have been stalwarts of the Northern Amateur League, Tyneside Amateur League, and the Northern Alliance, these days a feeder to the Northern League. They once made the quarter-final of the FA Amateur Cup losing out to the wonderfully named Bournemouth Gasworks Athletic in 1929-30; Gasworks lost in the final. 

The visitors were no less interesting. The original Bohemian club was founded in 1894 and as such are the oldest amateur club in the north-east. They were formed at a house in Leazes Terrace, which of course today backs on to one side of St James Park, home to Newcastle United! Like Percy Main the club have played their existence in the area’s league below Northern League level. We caught them at at an interesting interlude. They’d come close to folding in 2000 due to lack of players, but opted to merge with Garnett FC who had no end of players but no home ground. It felt like a marriage of convenience and the Garnett suffix was dropped at the end of this, the 2008/2009 season. 

Before kick-off this looked like a home banker, Percy Main were unbeaten all season, but for long periods looked likely to surrender that proud record. But good sides tend to find a way of keeping records going and Percy Main managed it here although they were destined to only finish 5th. They were promoted the next season and have played Premier Division football ever since!!! Gosforth have maintained their place in Division One since this game. 

It was one of those mornings when a club managed to catch precisely the right set of circumstances for them to take advantage of it. I hope the club both enjoyed and profited from their moment and if its any guide to how I felt about my morning, I do still look for their results 11 years later!