Football returns for Carl Jarrett's Steelmen with a date in the den of the league-leaders.
A mere two weeks into Carl Jarrett’s tenure at the club, and the new boss is tasked with toppling the insurmountable force of table-topping Bishop Auckland.
With a win already to boot at the dawn of a new era, optimism is rife amongst the Green Lane crop, yet so too is perspective.
Sinking the Two Blues – who run amok with the title in sight – will prove a fair challenge to a gelling side, yet it is one that Jarrett’s men are more than willing to give their all for.
Here’s everything you need to know as the Steelmen face the league-leaders, Bishop Auckland…
WHO ARE YA?
From unmatched glory in the FA Amateur Cup, to a deep history with the Northern League, Bishop Auckland are one of the more decorated clubs in the north east region.
Formed by theological students from Oxford and Cambridge Universities, studying at Auckland Castle, in 1882, the football club was originally bestowed Bishop Auckland Church Institute.
Come 1886, an internal conflict sparked the breakaway of a new club, Auckland Town, and from such upheaval, the Bishop Auckland that exists today evolved.
Founder members of the Northern League in 1889, Auckland Town took a short hiatus from the division after it’s first season, but returned as Bishop Auckland four years down the line.
It was in the FA Amateur Cup that the Two Blues truly carved their legacy, first clinching the title with a 1-0 win over Royal Artillery Portsmouth, before repeating the feat and incredulous ten times, from 18 final appearances.
Come the dissolution of the tournament in 1974, as Bishops Stortford sank Ilford by four goals to one, Auckland were presented a replica copy of the trophy, to commemorate their untouchable record.
Two and a half weeks into his time on the Redcar seafront, and Carl Jarrett boasts only the one game to boot.
The new boss marked the start of his tenure with a first win in six against a struggling – but spirited – Northallerton Town, with front-man Adam Boyes quick to open his account to prove the difference.
Whilst no doubt far from a classic, for Jarrett, the gritty win was the first step in a lengthy process, adding that there was much to be done with an eye to next season.
It’s probably best not to discuss Bishop Auckland’s form…
Comfortably at the summit of Division One, the Bishops have lost only the one game all season, dropping points in a mere four on an unrelenting charge towards the Northern League title.
Chris Hardy’s men have won four of their last five league encounters, including a 5-1 thrashing of their closest compatriots, Shildon – denied flawless form by the sheer stubbornness of a resurgent Guisborough Town.
LAST TIME OUT
Whilst admittedly the first bout under the dominance of the Durham outfit, Redcar Athletic have a rather impressive history of upsetting the Northern League titans.
Last season, the Bishops were forced to fight to the wire to scrape a point at Heritage Park, whilst the clinical finishing of Donny Holdsworth clinched all three for the Steelmen back at Green Lane.
The forward notched three of the club’s four goals against the Two Blues, slotting home a slide-rule pass from Isaac Walker inside five minutes in Durham to stun the title-hopefuls.
As the best teams often do, Auckland roared back from the early setback, striking in stoppage time at the end of each half to overturn both Donny’s deadlock breaker, and a composed second from Isaac Walker.
The Two Blues’ luck did not carry over to Green Lane.
A double from Holdsworth forced the Bishops’ onto the back foot come the break, and despite a late resurgence courtesy of Wayne Whitfield, two late dismissals left the title dreams of the Durham outfit dented heading in the decisive run of the season.
Only the second bout of the Carl Jarrett era, this afternoon’s team selection remains the subject of speculation.
Heading in to the den of the league leaders, the boss will be relieved to have suffered no suspensions, with a full squad at his disposal, besides a couple of long-term absences.
Central defender Adam Wheatley edges ever closer to a return to the grass, but still remains absent from the squad whilst in recovery from a broken foot.
As for Danny Boyle, it is unlikely the midfielder will be restored to the side this season.
Visiting Heritage Park – or following along online – this afternoon? Delve in to the following important information…
FINDING HERITAGE PARK
Perhaps the most respected ground in the Northern League, Heritage Park is also home to a number of Middlesbrough FC’s youth teams.
The ground can be found using the postcode DL14 9AE, but if in doubt, look for the big Sainsbury’s!
Admission into Heritage Park this afternoon will set adults back £8, with a marginally lesser fee of £7 for those eligible for concession entry.
Any under the age of 16 can enter the ground for just £4.
Both cash and card will be accepted across the stadium.
FOOD AND DRINK
There are plenty of places serving up snacks and refreshments at Heritage Park, make sure to bring some cash if you fancy complimenting the matchday experience.
Due to other commitments, the club will have no media personnel at his afternoon’s game. Live coverage of the match will continue on Twitter/X courtesy of John Wilberforce for one day only.
Those on Facebook and Instagram will notice very little change.