Source: Sunday Sun
Oct 10 2010 Sunday Sun
TWO years ago Norton and Stockton Ancients were spending their 28th consecutive season in the STL Northern League Second Division.
The club, formed in 1959, at last celebrated promotion and today are in the top half of Division One.
Yesterday, they staged the biggest game in their 51-year history when FC United of Manchester and their big following descended on Teesside.
And although Norton failed to make it a match which would be etched into the memories of their supporters, chairman Michael Mulligan was ‘over the moon’ at the way the day went.
He said: “They (FC United of Manchester) are in the Premier Division of the Evo-Stik League and were the favourites.
“At one stage we were ahead and I don’t think the scoreline was a true reflection of the game.
“The lads were superb. Obviously everybody is disappointed but certainly not at the effort which the team gave for every single one of the 90 minutes.
“We’ve had a fantastic run to get this far and it’s been a great experience.
“Last season we reached the quarter-finals of the FA Carlsberg Vase and now we must turn our attentions to making progress in that competition.
“We’ve never had 1576 spectators in the ground and yes, a lot came from Manchester, but we also had a big following to prove that success can attract the fans.”
The Mancunians took the lead after just five minutes when Mike Norton struck into the left-hand corner of the net, giving goalkeeper James Provett no chance.
Ancients suffered a huge and worrying blow on 27 minutes.
Andrew Burton collapsed on the field and had to be stretchered off with possible concussion which held the tie up for 10 minutes.
The Teessiders were fighting for every ball and just before the interval their supporters were sent into raptures as Dale Mulligan grabbed an equaliser from close range.
Manchester goalkeeper Sam Ashton only managed to parry a Craig Gott free-kick and Mulligan was perfectly positioned for the rebound, which he gleefully converted.
It got even better for Norton eight minutes into the second period as they stormed into the lead.
Again Gott was involved and his corner was smashed into the net by Shaun Clarke.
Norton’s joy, though, was shortlived and Manchester took control to score four times in the last 25 minutes.
Glynn Hurst managed to sneak the ball over the line following a goalmouth scramble and the visitors went ahead when Norton headed over advancing goalkeeper Provett.
The home side pushed players forward in an effort to equalise but left the way open for Ben Deegon to just about seal their fate with a back-post header on 83 minutes.
With a minute remaining, Norton tapped in for his hat-trick to put the finishing touch on the victory.
And it was all over for another year, as it is for the other three STL Northern League sides, Ashington, Whitley Bay and Shildon who also crashed out of the famous old competition.
NORTON AND STOCKTON ANCIENTS: Provett, Burton, Bishop, Mulligan, Gaston, Gott, Huggins, S Clarke, J Clarke, Furness, Earl.
FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER: Ashton, Jacobs, Neville, Platt, Parker, McManus, Roca, Cotterill, Norton, Wright, Hurst.
Ref: Mr Clayton.