Swalwell

Old Swalwell football team

Sport

Swalwell has a long sporting history predominately involving football and cricket.

FOOTBALL

Football teams were originally associated with one or other of the various Churches, the Church of England, the Presbyterians, see picture, and the Primitive Methodists each having their own teams. Swalwell school also fielded teams over the years playing in the school leagues. Swalwell Association Football Club existed from 1949 until 1998. They played in the Northern Combination League which eventually became the McEwan's Northern Combination, then McEwan's Northern Alliance and finally the JPL Wade Northern Alliance League, finishing bottom of Division 1 in the 1997/98 season, when they were removed from the league. They played on the same ground used earlier by the Presbyterian's, who played in the North Eastern League on a ground at the bottom of the cricket field from 1922.

Swalwell produced many footballers who went on to play professionally, among them a Bob and Jack Charlton who attended Swalwell school and played, unlike their more famous namesakes from Ashington who came later, for Fulham and Portsmouth respectively. Joe Laidlaw, from Swalwell, played for Middlesbrough in the 1970's and later for Doncaster Rovers. There is currently a new club, with several teams, including girl's, called Swalwell Juniors, which plays on a ground along the Winlaton Mill road past the cricket field on the old reclaimed cokeworks site.

CRICKET

Swalwell Cricket Club was founded in 1880 after a series of meetings held in the nearby Crow Trees Inn. At first they played on the Forge Field near the Dam Head, then a popular picnic spot, but in 1892 moved to the Avenue Ground, see picture, which was to serve them for over a hundred years. The ground was leased from Sir Henry Clavering. Here, with the railway embankment to the east and the River Derwent to the North, they had one of the most attractively situated grounds in the league. Playing in the North West Durham League from their formation until 1932 they transferred to the Tyneside Senior League in 1933 when that league was reorganised. In 1934 a tennis club existed at the far end of the ground with two courts and a changing room. There was also a putting green. In 1942 the ground was requisitioned by the Royal Air Force for use as a barrage balloon site and the WAFS manning the site were stationed in the clubhouse while the club's home games were played at nearby Ryton. The original pavilion had been destroyed by fire in 1935 and was again burnt down in 1966 with irreplaceable records being lost on each occasion. The Cricket Club were the first in the league to open a licensed bar, which opened for use in time for the start of the 1954 season. In 1973 the club negotiated the purchase of the Avenue Ground but in 1999 the ground was sold and the club moved to a brand new ground at Derwenthaugh Park half a mile away, but again alongside the River Derwent. In 1975 the hockey club from Gateshead Fell had obtained permission to move to a pitch on cricket club land. In the Tyneside Senior League Swalwell were league champions in 1936, 1937, 1950, 1974, 1977 and 1978. The Horner Cup came to Swalwell in 1978 and the Metropolitan Cup the same year, a satisfying club double. This last cup was retained in 1979. The Second Eleven won the Samuel Cup in 1974. Swalwell currently play in the Wellstream Northumberland and Tyneside Senior League.

Among their more famous players were: A A Fletcher who reputedly played for the club for 50 years; Tom and Joe Bruce, opening batsmen for many a year. Tom also played football for Oldham athletic when they were a Division 1 club; Tom Smith 1932 to 1954 and captain from 1949; Fred Gregory batsman in the '50's; Laurie and Jack Watson who helped the club out of the doldrums from 1959 to a championship season in 1962; Dennis Dempsey pre-war bowler; and many others. Many attempts were made to clear the railway embankment on the east side of the ground but apparently only two batsmen managed to do it - Jim Bruce and Doctor Kendal, while Matty McTear hit a ball for six out of the ground and clean over the River Derwent. Will this feat ever be repeated at the new ground? Much of this information is taken from the club's Centenary booklet.

Swalwell won the championship in the 2006/2007 season - the first time for 22 years. And have won it again the following five seasons.

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RUGBY UNION

Although Swalwell has never had a rugby club of its own, nearby Blaydon have their ground and clubhouse at Crowtrees Park on the Swalwell side of the River Derwent. Blaydon Rugby Club were founded in 1888 and are one of the oldest in County Durham playing on various grounds until moving to the Race Course ground at Stella. They were forced to find a new ground in 1951 after their old one became the site of Stella South power station. Crowtrees Park was purchased and became their home.The new ground - the first they had owned - was officially opened on 15th September 1952. Following further land purchases the ground now covers a large area and includes a stand erected in 1983. There is a large new (1996) clubhouse and a popular car-boot sale is held there on Sunday mornings. Circuses and fairs are held in the grounds from time to time. The parade for the Blaydon Races Centenary celebrations held on 9 June 1962 from Balmbras in Newcastle to Blaydon via Scotswood Road finally ended up in Crowtrees Park in Swalwell. The club played their rugby in the National League 3 (North) until in 2006-07 the club won promotion to the National League Two and then National League One.

But why after over 60 years playing in Swalwell are they still called Blaydon Rugby Club?

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