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Website last updated: 7 Jan, 2015 @ 10:14
Despite forming in 1992 Pittington FC or Pittington Duke of Wellington as they were were originally called didn’t start and compete in the Durham and District Sunday League until the 1998- 99 season. Their first season at this level was by no means a walk in the park, Pittington finished fifth from bottom in the league’s seventh tier, tallying a dismal 21 points.
The next season wasn’t much of improvement either, in fact the club moved back over, finishing fourth off bottom this time. This was to be the general theme of Pittington’s life in the league system for the next few years.
However, the turn of the century and the signing of a new youthful breed of players saw a change in fortunes for the club both on and off the pitch. The signing of 16 year old James Donaldson, 17 year olds Campbell Donaldson, Brian Colledge and Adam Hudson along with 20 year old John Liddle proved to be a significant move by then manager Kevin Maughan.
Maughan’s signings along with the experience of Alan Hardman, Ian Beck, Terry Hodge, Andrew Graham, David Vanbuten and Ian Lord proved to be critical in building the Pittington FC we know today, some of the names such as Colledge and Liddle can still be found on Pittington team sheets this season.
From here the club eventually began to form, despite now being on the go for nearly a decade. John Gorman took charge of off field matters as he began to take control of funds and administration duties, carrying the club in the right direction and off the pitch as well as making the number one jersey his own. During this period John picked up a string of personal accolades for his hard work and endeavour.
The following season saw more progress for the club despite Maughan being replaced by Ian Beck. The mix of youth and experience saw the club consolidate their position in the league system as they started to look up the league system rather than down.
Despite 10 years as an established club the first major transition for the club came at the start of the 2002- 03 season when Alistair Donaldson- father of James and Campbell took over the reigns as Beck resigned from his post. Working in tandem with Gorman’s off field progressions, Donaldson brought new sense of motivation and work ethic to the club.
A fantastic man motivator, Donaldson had the ability to get the best out of his players. Not everyone took to his approach but he had vision and dedication, spending the majority of his spare time on the club, from organising training sessions to planning the clubs move to become a Northern League outfit- a vision that would leave the players of the time with a legendary club anecdote to share for the next decade.
As an un- named source says: Alistair took the squad on a run one training session and stopped at a patch of waste ground in Littletown. It was here he announced plans to develop a new ground for Pittington, it was to include changing facilities and floodlights that would meet the standards of the Northern League where he hoped to take Pittington as part of a five year plan. This episode was very surreal and stunned silence amongst the players, this was only broken when centre forward Davey Clarke (aged about 35 at the time) - commented "I'll be retired by the time this is ready, and these (pointing to Beck and Lord) will be dead".
Needless to say Donaldson’s five year plan didn’t pan out as he had hoped but still his commitment towards the club proved to be critical in driving the club forward once more. He was to be at the helm of the club for the next five years, an era which is to date the club’s most successful period. Guiding the club to back to back promotions before a four year stay in the third tier, Donaldson’s time at the club proved to be a triumph.
After such success Donaldson decided to give up the ghost in 2008, ending his rein after proudly carrying the club up the league system but still no sign of those Northern League facilities. At this time Neville Harbisher- father of current players Paul and Phil Harbisher, stepped in as he hoped to build on Donaldson’s success.
Harbisher managed to consolidate the club’s position in the second division during his first season at the helm but unfortunately things turned sour during the 2009- 10 season as Pittington finished bottom of the division and were relegated to the league’s fourth tier. This was a taste of things to come.
One year later and the club managed to stay in the fourth division by the skin of their teeth, winning their penultimate game to secure safety. From here the alarm bells began to ring and the 2011- 12 season saw turmoil rip through the club. Harbisher left his post midway through the season as his son Paul and now club Chairman Brian Colledge took over the management of the club.
The Harbisher and Colledge tenure was not one to write home about; unfortunately Brian’s inspirational team talks didn’t manage to improve the team’s performances as they failed to pick up a single point during this period. The pair were swiftly replaced at the start of 2012 as caretaker coaches Ian Mudd and Dave Frame took charge with saving the club the main priority.
Ian and Dave brought a new playing style and confidence to the team. They instilled belief in the players and finally Pittington started to play football remenisant of the Donaldson era. Despite this new found belief and a string of positive results however Pittington failed to recover from a torrid start to the season and were relegated once more.
Now, under the stewardship of Richard Lewins and Chris Welsh the club find themselves back in the fourth division, completing a whole circle in what has been a turbulent 20 seasons for the club.
Over the years the club has been blessed with some of the finest footballers to play in the region. From current day stars such as Paul Harbisher and Martin Clough to stalwarts from years gone by such as Davey Clarke and Jamie Vayro.
The history books show that over the past two decades a number of people have contributed to the club both on and off the field. As a signal of our gratitude they along with a few current players have been included in the 'Pittington FC Role Of Honour'.
Stuart Thompson – a pacey and tenacious centre midfielder who went on to sign for Kelloe in the Premier League. Up there with Martin Clough and Paul Harbisher as pne of the best players the club has had over the last 10 years.
Davey Clarke – a veteran centre forward who was in his early 30's when signed by Donaldson. Despite his age he was still a free scoring forward known for spectacular goals and his combative style.
Jamie Vayro – a talented footballer with an eye for goal. Jamie was the club’s top scorer during the 2007- 08 season finishing with 28 goals. Sadly Jamie passed away before the start of the 2008- 09 season.
Gav Cockburn – a cultured central midfielder with a great eye for a pass and a long range shot. Gav also had an evil two footed challenge in his locker, worse than Aiden Lynn’s apparently. He left the club when he moved to London to be an accountant.
Martyn Dixon - part of the infamous "Gucci boys" alongside Aiden Lynn and Richard Lewins. When the trio first signed they were famed for sharp haircuts and designer gear. They were Hetton’s Glitterati.
Campbell Donaldson – a reliable centre back famed for on pitch screaming matches with brother James and father Alistair.
Antony Hoyland (Taj) – a full- back for a number of years before leaving for Kelloe with Stuart Thompson. Taj regularly fell out with then manager Donaldson but was valuable in terms of player recruitment, Stuart Thompson and Gav Cockburn came to the club via Taj. His ability to sign players came from permanently being out in Durham, either on the lash or working in Varsity.
Brian Colledge- a man who has served the club as a player, manager and Chairman. Brian is a great ambassador for Pittington, contributing to the club both on and off the field. His lack of organisation and long distance relationships cause him to get some unnecessary stick but all in all ‘Colly’ is a great lad to have at the club.
Martin Clough- on his day ‘Cloughie’ is a genius in every sense of the word. His ability to ghost past a man or find that killer ball make him a joy to play alongside. Despite coming to the end of his career he is still a key player amongst the current crop of Pittington players. Off the pitch Martin’s dry sense of humour and constant criticism of team mates make him a very popular lad in the changing room.
Paul Harbisher- a technically sound player who has the ability to light up any game. A very able footballer who can play almost any position Paul has served the club very well over the years despite suggestions he could play at a higher level. Paul is another who has served a short spell as manager.
John Liddle- the list wouldn’t be complete without Pittington’s very own Ryan Giggs. Into his 30s and still going strong, John is best known for scoring the majority of the goals which saw the club become so successful during the Donaldson era. His mixture of pace and trickery make John a real handful for defenders, even now. At his peak join would easily bag 30 goals a season and during the 2002- 03 season he was the top scorer in the whole of division four .