If it’s your first time coming to Croft Park to support the lads, you’re a visiting away fan, one of those groundhopping folk or you’re coming back after a few years away, hopefully this guide is of some help!
The home of Spartans for nearly 115 years, Croft Park has seen a lot of renovation since the turn of the millennium with several major and minor projects being undertaken over the years to turn Croft Park into one of the best grounds in the National League North.
The main stand at Spartans is officially known as the Port of Blyth stand, as the port have been a major club sponsor for well over 20 years now. In the past it was known as the ‘Jim Turney stand’ after the legendry former Chairman, Manager and Player. After the latest upgrade in 2007, the POB stand holds roughly 530 seats, split into 2 sections. The stand is a mix with certain characters and describing some of them won’t do them justice, but if you’re sat in the top deck of the stand, prepare to hear “HOOOF IT” from Diabetic Dave, alot.
Opposite that you’ll find the ‘Ferguson Transport stand’ as it’s officially called, though to the locals it’ll always been know as either the Fed Shed or the the Cow Shed. The Fed Shed is older than time it’s self and will likely be up for redevelopment in the future, as the slightest gust of wind has you fearing that the roof is about to blow off. Though it’s been 20 years since the roof last blew away, so the current roof has done well! No bogs or anything on this side of the ground though, sadly.
The Lennon Properties stand (known to us as the Plessey Road end) is traditionally the away end for any segregated fixtures, which rarely occur at Croft Park. The PRE is usually the end Spartans shoot towards in the first half and where fans tend to congregate prior to kick off. The stand is in pretty good condition, having been built in 2007. Also has some bogs at the side at the entrance to the stand.
Lastly we have the F. Southern Stand, which is the newest sponsored stand at Croft Park. Also known as the Croftway End, this stand is nearest the clubhouse and the end Spartans fans typically congregate in during the second half or for segregated games. Built in 2009 with some FA Cup money, it’s essentially identical to the opposite PRE stand.
As for the amenities around the ground, The Official Club Store is open between 1:30pm and roughly 2:50pm, and then again after the match for about 20 mins where you’ll find replica kit, training kit as well as other gear. You can find a full range of what to expect in store here.
New to ground is the Fanzone! Or the ‘Tony Young fanzone’ according to Hendy. A seated area inside the ground funded by TUS (The Utility Supplier) ahead of the 2023/24 season, providing an area for fans sit down for some scran and a pint. Hendy reckons it looks like a pig pen, but having seen some of the lasses he’s pulled over the years I can see why he thinks like that.
Right next to that you have the scran van, which is MUCH improved on the last one, offering a much improved variety of food that’s actually edible. The van is only a temporary measure though, as planning permission is in to convert the brick bogs opposite into a kitchen facility. If that’s not the sort of thing you fancy though, Gino’s chippy can be found right next to the turnstiles at the Plessey Road turnstiles, and it’s certainly a favourite of locals and away fans alike. As of the summer of 2023 you can now drink in the ground! Obviously alcohol has to be purchased from the social club at the ground though.
On that matter, the nearest bar you’ll find is of course the Spartans Clubhouse! When it comes to lager you’ve got the the basics on tap, in Fosters, Carling and Stella. Bottles/cans of Red Stripe, Tiger, Budweiser, Madri and Moretti can also be found as well. Various ciders, beers and ales etc are available as well, though I’ve ne idea about any of that jazz. Plenty of spirits available as well, which come in handed when you’ve been absolutely twatted.
Fortunately, the clubhouse is very reasonably priced when it comes to drinks but be warned if Ben’s serving you as he’s rather fond of juggling pint glasses.
On top of that, you’ll also find Pieface flogging the world famous Shy’s Pie’s, which are a clubhouse favourite at £2.50 a shot. The club’s also recently just had a new overhead projector installed, which was much needed as the last one was older than your nan. The club also has TNT Sports, which is handy for Champions League nights and the occasional early or late kick off in the Premier League.
As for pubs nearby, down the road from the ground you’ll find the Masons Arms, which is owned by former Newcastle United defender Oliver Bernard and his business partner. The bar offers some good pints (definitely recommend the Cruzcampo) and offers some canny scran during the day. Before a matchday you get a few Spartans fans in and traditionally get a few away fans in as well, though after a match when Charlie’s disco is on it’s a good laugh and gets a bit wild. Also has the full range of Sky Sport/TNT Sports as well so it’s the go to place for the football.
RIght next door to that you have the Sports and Social club, which is commonly just know as the Sporty. Offering slightly cheaper pints, the Sporty is a proper sort of social club offering pool, darts, dominos and whatever the fuck skittles is. It even hosts Leek shows and all sorts of tractional club/pub stuff as well as having all the footy. Would definitely recommend the ice cold Heineken tap!
Moving on into the town centre now, many would say the main bar in Blyth is The Wallaw, which is the local Wetherspoons which was converted from an old cinema. The place has definitely seen better days, having been open 10 years now it’s certainly starting to show a bit of wear and tear now and it’s gone from a place most of us would always end up to a place where none of the lads bother with. The beer is alright and the food is your standard Spoons stuff usually.
Next to that is The Waterloo, which changes owners more often than Soulsby changes lasses. Usually the last stop of of the night or a stepping stone onto Blyth’s ‘nightclub’ scene. As a pub it’s canny enough though with a decent beer garden, it has plenty of local ‘characters’ and it has some decent enough pints on offer. Stay away from the bandits though, they’re money pits.
If you’ve gotten this far into the heart of Blyth and are up for continuing your night into the early hours, your next stop is very likely going be The Quay. You’re certainly in for a laugh one way or another. You’ve also got Deja vu which is slightly better, as the music is bearable, they sell cans of Red Stripe and sometimes they usually stop the local radge’s in trackies getting in so, what more could you want?
Though if you wish to try a few bars/pubs that perhaps aren’t on the traditional matchday pub trail for us lads, Deuces is a new cocktail bar which is canny, the Services Club is another good social club but if you fancy some cheap spirits and dodgy Karaoke, The Post Office is the place for you. The Lounge is good if you’re up for a quiet pint and of course you have the Commissioners Quay.
On that note, the Commissioners is the main place to stay in Blyth if you’re here for the night. While it’s probably the most expensive room in Blyth, the food and the drinks you’ll get in the bar downstairs are canny and it’s probably the only hotel in Blyth that someone hasn’t died in, so I suppose it’s got that going for it.
Elsewhere you’ve got The Oddfellows just around the corner, which is much smaller but probably has better food and slightly better beer. Up the road from Croft Park you also have the Seahorse, which sort of works as a private bar/restaurant as well. Apparently the old Tavern Pub is now a bed and breakfast as well, but I’ve ne idea that’s like. If you’re after a proper cheap hotel, the closest you’ll find is the Premier Inn which is at Moor Farm roundabout, about 10 min’s outside of Blyth.
It gives me great pleasure to say for the first time in years, we aren’t complete shite!
Up top we have former Newcastle United striker JJ Hooper, who joined us this summer after relocating back to the North East following his departure from Gloucester City. So far he’s proven to be a natural finisher who’s pretty integral to the team. Fan favourite JJ O’Donnell who can play a central role or out on the wing. O’Donnell arrived in January 2021 from Gateshead (initially on loan) and has so far grabbed 20+ goals in a green and white shirt, captained the club, notched up Christ knows how many assists and at times been one of very few shining lights at the club.
In the centre of midfield you have captain Nicky Deverdics, who’s seemingly Blyth’s own Benjamin Button. After starting out at Newcastle United, Nicholas Ferenc Deverdics went onto play all over the country which included a few spells in the Football League as well as non-league football, along with stints in Scotland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands before returning to Spartans in 2021 where he’s gone on to be one of our best players. A pure playmaker who’s a midfield maestro and a true miss when he isn’t in the team. Alongside him you’ll find Will McGowan, who joined last November on loan from South Shields and went onto become a key player in the team, even winning the ‘coverted’ Green Army player of the year award. He made the move permanent this summer with Spartans paying an ‘undisclosed fee’ for Big Willy, who’s kicked on yet again this season and is arguably the club’s best player. They’re usually partnered in midfield by Jordan Hickey, who joined in 2021 after leaving Hull City. Though he is a curly haired Mackem, he’s got a cannon of a shot and will absolutely fuck up an opposition player when needed. A solid box to box midfielder, Jord is another fan favourite due to his work rate and the graft he’s put in over recent years, developing into a top NLN midfielder.
Speaking of Mackems, at left back is where you’ll find stalwart Michael Liddle. Having racked up near 200 appearances across 2 spells at Croft Park, Lids has seen most of the high’s and low’s at Spartans over the last 8 seasons or so, having first joined the club in the summer of 2016. A full back who LOVES to get forward and help out the attack as well as being a solid defensive presence. On the side of the defence you’ve also got Rhys Evans, another long time fan favourite who’s currently the clubs longest serving player having joined in 2019. Over the years he’s kicked on to be a well established NLN full back, adapt at closing down opposition wingers/inside forwards, as well as wondering forward from time to time to sling a cross in. Centre Backs Finn Cousin Dawson and Jack Bodenham have also began to form a solid and steady partnership this term, protecting now longstanding goalkeeper Alex Mitchell who joined in 2021. Last year Al would keep an incredible 15 clean sheets in the National League North to help Spartans stay up and would win the Supporters Club Player of the Year vote, as Spartans survived relegation on the final day of the season.
Former Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa and Leicester City player Graham Fenton took over the reigns as manager last August, and managed to keep a struggling Spartans team in the National League North, despite a plethora of injuries to key players. A former player and assistant manager in the 2000’s, Fents was part of the squad that won promotion from the UniBond Premier Division back in 2006, along with the Chairman’s Cup and Peter Swales Memorial Shield. He was also part of the famous 2008/09 FA Cup run, where Spartans progressed to the 3rd round. After leaving Blyth he had successful spells at North and South Shields, winning a combined 4 promotions, a Durham Challenge Cup, a Northern League League Cup and the FA Vase at Wembley, twice. Going into his first full season as Spartans gaffa, with his own team and new assistant manager John Shaw, he’ll be looking to keep Spartans well clear of the drop zone this year and a decent run in the FA Cup or the FA Trophy would be an added bonus.
And that pretty much covers everything! Hope this was of some help and if you ever fancy checking out at a game at Blyth, you can get tickets here but don’t forget to to call into club for a pint and a pie first!