2023. Another turbulent year in the short history of Redcar Athletic FC.
From snatching sixth spot in a final day shootout, to smashing the attendance record at Green Lane, 2023 brought new wonders to the infant club on the Redcar seafront.
In 46 instalments of the beautiful game, Athletic won a commendable 21, enjoying their greatest run in the Isuzu FA Vase, and their finest ever league finish.
The Steelmen established themselves as one of the most potent attacking outfits in the north east non-league scene, netting 117 times across the course of the year.
Donny Holdsworth challenged for the Division One top scorer accolade come the back end of the 2022/23 campaign, missing out narrowly to Newton Aycliffe’s Liam Jarvie, who made the summer switch in favour of the men in red and navy.
Where the Steelmen found new success, so too came bitter disappointment, as a season built on the promise of unfettered success leaves the club in mere 14th come the turn of the year.
Let’s take a look back at 2023, and what it had in store for Redcar Athletic FC…
The curtains of 2023 opened on a spell of three consecutive postponements, with the Steelmen first kicking a ball in the new year as late as January 25th.
Trailing at half time to Northallerton Town in their own backyard, goals from Donny Holdsworth, Anthony Bell and Alfie Conway completed a stunning turnaround, kicking off 2023 – albeit three weeks late – exactly where they finished the previous year.
Days later, the doors to Green Lane swung open for the first time, as Redcar Athletic inflicted a huge dent on the promotion hopes of Whitley Bay.
A clever brace from Donny Holdsworth stunned the title-challengers, before club captain Anthony Bell buried only his second of the season in as many appearances.
Sonni Coleman wrapped up the stellar afternoon from the penalty spot, issuing a statement of intent to the rest of the league for the year ahead.
Redcar Athletic’s winter bounce under new boss Gary Forster fell somewhat flat.
A Donny Holdsworth free kick proved enough to scrape a point at home to a plucky Carlisle City, before successive defeats on the road to West Allotment Celtic and Ashington derailed the charge up the table.
Victory over bogey-side Seaham Red Star brought a halt to Redcar’s brief decline, as Danny Boyle’s well-taken double warded off a late resurgence.
Redcar built on the narrow triumph with an astounding SIX goal thrashing on the road against Sunderland RCA, before welcoming promotion-hopefuls Bishop Auckland to Green Lane.
In a classic to go down as one of the finest of the year, Donny Holdsworth this time popped up with a brace, sinking the Two Blues in monsoon conditions to mark a drastic change from the start of the month.
Redcar’s ‘March‘ up the league table continued in Cumbria, as goals from Donny Holdsworth and Craig Hutchinson sank Carlisle City.
A brief wobble came at the hands of the eventual play-off champions, as Ashington stuck three passed the Steelmen at Green Lane, before a spirited Penrith took an important step towards survival in a tight duel at Frenchfield Park.
Derby Day at the King George V Ground brought the third month of the year to a triumphant end, as Sonni Coleman rose to nod home the lone goal of the afternoon, sealing a feel-good double over East Cleveland rivals, Guisborough Town.
April began with an Easter double, so masterfully kicked off by a Donny Holdsworth hat-trick, and victory over West Auckland Town.
Danny Boyle once again stole the spotlight at Millfield, starring in a 4-2 victory over Crook Town, which left the door open to steal a spot in the prestigious top six on the final day, should current occupant, Whickham, fail to win.
Of course, the matter was made a great deal easier by the pair meeting at Green Lane in the season finale, as Craig Hutchinson and Sonni Coleman completed the record-breaking feat for a jubilant Redcar.
Nothing to see here, simply Redcar Athletic celebrating their highest ever finish in the English football pyramid.
The gears of the new season began to turn, as pre-season was detailed, and new signings began to come through the doors at Green Lane.
June was perhaps headlined by the return of the prodigal son, Isaac Walker, who became Redcar’s first summer signing following a short stint with National League North outfit, Blyth Spartans.
Redcar Athletic’s preparations for a campaign filled with aspiration began, as goals from Layton Watts and Liam O’Sullivan sank Billingham Synthonia.
A second instalment – admittedly in a pre-season friendly – of the Redcar derby saw the men in red and navy take revenge on last year’s North Riding cup defeat, as Isaac Walker led a late goal surge.
Gary Forster’s men were whisked off for a weekend long boot camp as July continued, enjoying the facilities at Derby County’s Moor Farm Training Complex.
The Steelmen sank a Stocksbridge Park Steels XI with a SEVEN goal haul to draw the camp to a close, before visiting Pride Park as guests of honour as the Rams swept aside Stoke City.
Pre-season culminated in a record-breaking evening at Green Lane, as a sensational 1’781 spectators passed through the turnstiles for the visit of National League side, Hartlepool United.
Redcar ultimately lost by five goals to one, with the former football league outfit responding emphatically to Layton Watts’ deflected opener.
The bumper crowd obliterated the previous record, on a night to remember for everyone in attendance, regardless of footballing persuasion.
The 2023/24 Ebac Northern League began in disappointing fashion.
Redcar Athletic suffered a shock opening day defeat to Birtley Town, before facing a premature exit from the Emirates FA Cup at the hands of a struggling Tadcaster Albion.
Only the Isuzu FA Vase saved face for the Steelmen in an utterly appalling month, as an Isaac Walker hat-trick sealed safe progression in torrid conditions in Esh Winning.
Redcar finally fashioned an uptick in form as September got underway.
Stalemates with Whitley Bay and Guisborough Town kicked off the month, before two straight 4-1 victories on the road had a poor start to the season in distant memory.
The Steelmen were in seven heaven as Sunderland RCA visited Green Lane, picking up their first win on the Redcar seafront in emphatic fashion.
September was perhaps headlined by an Isuzu FA Vase clash with Padiham FC, a chance to equal the club’s greatest run through the competition, having played through an extra round.
A sensational double from Liam Jarvie and Matty Tymon sank the Storks, as further strikes from Isaac Walker and Matty Tymon capped a special afternoon.
The month of spooks and freights, October brought the horrors of August back to the forefront at Green Lane.
Redcar Athletic were toppled in a shock defeat to Penrith to open the month, before a bitter Isuzu FA Vase defeat to Silsden left expectations on the floor.
On their travels, Redcar still proved a force to be reckoned with slapping EIGHT past a disheveled Tow Law Town, courtesy of the excellence of substitute Layton Watts.
Further redemption came in the WOODSmith Construction Senior Cup, as an Isaac Walker brace headlined a four goal thumping of Teesside rivals, Thornaby.
In November, the Steelmen’s form again saw drastic improvement.
Redcar Athletic became only the second side to hold Shildon at Dean Street, having already recorded a record victory in the division over Newcastle Benfield.
Liam Jarvie wrapped up a first half hat-trick to ignite the EIGHT goal rout, capped off by further strikes from Layton Watts, Danny Boyle, Anthony Bell, Joe Ferguson and Aaron Brown.
Redcar Athletic closed out the year with a dismal showing in December.
The second half dismissal of Anthony Bell scuppered the chance of a derby victory, whilst title-favourites Shildon condemned the Steelmen to successive home defeats.
One final consolation came in Middlesbrough, as goals from Donny Holdsworth and Lewis Ritson sealed a point on Boxing Day against fellow Teessiders, Boro Rangers.