History Of Whitley Bay FC

The present Whitley Bay Football Club was formed in 1950 and was known as Whitley Bay Athletic. From 1950 until 1955 Athletic were members of the Northern Alliance and during those five seasons they won the League Championship, the League Cup (twice) and in 1952/53 they became the first amateur team for sixty years to win the Northumberland Senior Cup.

In 1955 the Club decided to join the powerful North Eastern League which was composed wholly of professional sides and for three seasons Bay struggled at the foot of the league. In 1958 a limited company was formed, the Athletic dropped from the title and a successful application to the Northern League was made.


During the 1960’s Whitley Bay became one of the top amateur clubs in the country. They won the Northern League title in 1964/65 and 1965/66, as well as the League Cup in 1964/65. The Club won the Northumberland Senior Cup six times in ten years and they were runners up on another occasion. It was in the Amateur Cup that Bay rose to national prominence, reaching the semi-finals twice and the quarter finals four times. The quarter final against Hendon in 1965 set the ground record, when 7301 supporters packed into Hillheads Park only to see Hendon win 3-1.

Whitley’s all-time record goalscorer, centre forward Billy Wright, was one of the club’s leading players during this period. In a remarkable career he scored 307 goals for the club.


The early 1970’s saw Bay’s successes continue with the League Cup being won in 1970/71, and the County Cup 1970/71 and 1972/73. With the demise of amateur football the Club’s fortunes took a nosedive, culminating in them having to apply for re-election to the League in 1979/80. During the early `80’s the Club slowly pulled itself around and when the Board of Directors appointed former player, Bobby Graham, as team manager in 1986, the team’s performances took a huge turn for the better. During his first season in charge Bobby took Bay to their highest League position (5th), for fifteen years and the team enjoyed their best ever F.A. Trophy run, when they reached the last sixteen. To cap a great season the Northumberland Senior Cup once again came to Hillheads, when Bay beat highly rated Blue Star 2-1 in the final.

In Bay’s final season in the Northern League (1987/88), after looking likely League Champions for most of the season, only a bad run of injuries prevented the title coming to Hillheads. With the Club on the up and up, it was decided to apply to the H.F.S. Loans League, an application that proved successful.

In season 1989/90 Bay had their best ever run in the FA Cup, when they got to the Third Round proper, beating Scarborough and Preston North End, only to lose 1-0 at Rochdale.

In season 1989/90 Whitley Bay had their best ever run in the FA Cup, when they got to the Third Round proper, beating Scarborough and Preston North End, on the way,only to lose 1-0 at Rochdale. The Preston game in front of a packed Hillheads was the feature game on BBC Match of the Day with John Motson providing commentary.


In season 1990/91 Bay’s move to the H.F.S. Loans League was justified, as they won not only the First Division Cup for the second time (the first being in 1988/89), but also the Championship and promotion to the Premier Division. Bay finished in 11th spot in the 1993/94 season, their best position in the Premier Division. The 1994/95 season proved to be a disastrous one for the Bay. The side struggled in the League, and continuing poor results led to Bobby Graham’s resignation in February 1995. The new manager, Derek Bell, hampered by financial restrictions, was unable to stop the slide and Bay finished in 21st position, resulting in relegation to the First Division.

Bay made an excellent start to the 1995/96 campaign, but after a series of poor results Derek Bell shocked the Club by resigning. The Directors appointed his assistant, Kenny Parker, in a caretaker capacity, but soon upgraded him to permanent status in the February following a run of seven wins in his first nine games. The initial success was not sustained however, and Bay finally finished in 8th position, after some inconsistent form towards the end of the season. Worse was to follow in the 1996/97 season, when Bay failed to register a win in their first ten league games and also crashed out of the FA Cup 6-0 to Harrogate Town. However, Parker rallied his troops and by the end of October they were awarded the Unibond team of the month. The inconsistent form returned however, and after a semi-final defeat in the County Cup by Morpeth Town, Kenny Parker was relieved of his duties and his assistant Paddy Lowrey, took over till the end of the season. Paddy was appointed permanent manager for the beginning of the 1997/98 season, and consolidated the Club by winning Unibond team of the month for December.

Things didn’t progress and the Bay were confined to the bottom 3 places of the league for the whole of the 1998/99 campaign and only escaped relegation when Cristen Priest scored a dramatic 89th minute equaliser against Trafford on the final day of the season. Relegation was to follow a year later.


The Bay finished their first season back in the Northern League a disappointing 11th, but they did enjoy a successful run in the FA Cup beating Unibond Premier League clubs Worksop Town and Gainsborough Trinity before going out at Barrow in the 4th Qualifying Round. The 2001/02 season proved to be one of the most memorable in the clubs’ history when under the manager ship of Andy Gowans they reached the Final of the FA Carlsberg Vase at Villa Park and won the trophy with a spectacular Ian Chandler header in extra time against their Jewson Eastern League opponents Tiptree United. The Vase run had an effect on their League position, when after leading the League for the first half of the season, the combination of League, Vase and League Cup games, which saw them reach the semi-finals, the team had to play 13 games in the final 28 days of the season, resulting in a final League position of 5th.

Ian Chandler

With expectations high, things didn’t go quite to plan the following season, although the club did reach the Final of the Northumberland Senior Cup, losing 2-0 to a strong Newcastle United Reserves and also making the last 16 of the FA Vase losing to a last minute extra time goal by Oadby Town, having played for over an hour with ten men. League form proved erratic and the club finished the season 10th, the highest position achieved all season. Manager Andy Gowens shocked the Board by resigning immediately the season had finished and the Directors appointed ex Blyth Spartans boss John Charlton to the ‘hot seat’ and he brought his assistant from Blyth Graeme Clark with him. Charlton’s stay however lasted only six months before he resigned. The Directors acted quickly and former striker Ian Chandler was installed as the new Manager, and he appointed ‘keeper Terry Burke as his assistant. Ian brought in another ex player when he appointed Steve Cuggy as coach.

Ian Chandler’s first full season in charge brought some silverware into the club when Whitley Bay won the Northumberland Senior Cup beating Newcastle Benfield Saints 2-0. A respectable 5th place in the league was also attained, but the club faired less well in the other cup competitions. The 2005/06 proved to be disappointing with early exits from all the cup competitions and inconsistency in the league resulting in a 10th place finish.


The 2006/2007 season was a one to savour for the fans as the team reached the 4th Qualifying Round of the FA Cup. On the way there they defeated Unibond League sides Stocksbridge Park Steels and North Ferriby United before meeting neighbours Blyth Spartans in an epic 3rd Qualifying Round tie. In front of 2,023 fans at Hillheads Blyth, who were three divisions higher than Whitley, earned a replay when a last minute goal gave them a 2-2 draw and in the return at Croft Park two early goals from Mark Sheeran and Phil Bell put the Bay on the way to a famous victory in front of 1,700 supporters. Bay’s run came to end at Gainsborough Trinity where they went down 2-0.

In the FA Vase Bay reached the last 32, and after a long journey to Gloucestershire, were beaten by a late goal at Slimbridge. However it was to be the league where Bay took the honours. On the final day of the season a 3-1 win at Durham City and Sunderland Nissan slipping up at home to Billingham Synthonia gave Bay the Arngrove Northern League title on goal difference from Billingham Town.

The honours didn’t end there as ‘keeper Terry Burke was named Northern League Player of the Year and Lee Kerr won the inaugural Bob Moreland Trophy for the Young Player of the Year. Lee also picked up the prestigious Radio Newcastle Player of the Year and manager Ian Chandler took the Manager of the Year award. As the only club to score more than 100 league goals their brand of exciting attacking play was a joy to watch.

The 2007/08 season has got off to a good start when the club won the Cleator Cup beating Newcastle Benfield in the league’s annual curtain raiser between the League Champions and League Cup Winners. Another successful season followed and although Whitley failed to retain the league championship, they just missed out on the runners-up spot when Consett won their final game of the season. However the main focus of the season came in the FA Vase when they reached the semi-final stage having beaten the holders and hot favourites Truro City 3-0 on their own pitch after a 46o mile journey to Cornwall. Another long trip in the quarter-finals took them to Hungerford Town and a Paul Robinson goal set up a two legged semi-final tie with Lowestoft Town.

Disaster struck in the first leg at Lowestoft where a 4-0 win for the ‘Trawlermen’ made them firm favourites, but in a fantastic second leg the Bay just failed to pull it back despite taking a 3-0 lead after just 24 minutes. Both legs were played in front of over 2000 spectators. Off the field Lee Kerr was again presented with the Bob Moreland Trophy and Paul Robinson was voted as runner-up for the Northern League Player of the Year and long serving secretary Derek Breakwell was presented with the Arthur Clark Memorial Trophy for his services to the Northern League. Whitley also reached the semi-final of the Northumberland Senior Cup only to lose in extra time to a strong Newcastle United Reserve side.

2008/09 was a season Bay fans will never forget. The FA Vase once again took centre stage with Manchester side Abbey Hey being Whitleys’ first opponents. The visitors went 2-0 up and only a late equaliser from Chris Moore took the game to extra time where Bay ran out 5-2 winners. Victories over Penrith, Bootle, Stratford and Biggleswade Town took Whitley into the semi-final where they were once again paired with Lowestoft. Bay had home advantage in the 1st leg and a crowd of 2,947 saw goals from Paul Chow and Lee Kerr give them a 2-1 lead. In the 2nd leg 2,250 fans saw Bay’s lead wiped out inside 3 minutes but an equaliser from Leon Ryan and a superb display from the whole team saw Whitley become the first North East side to reach the new Wembley where their opponents were Glossop North End from the North West Counties League. What an occasion it was! With 12,212 fans in the stadium, goals from Lee Kerr and Paul Chow brought the FA Vase back to Whitley Bay for the 2nd time in seven years.

during the FA Vase Final between Glossop North End and Whitley Bay at Wembley Stadium on May 10, 2009 in London, England.

After a tight opening to the game Whitley nearly took the lead in spectacular fashion when Adam Johnston hit a 50 yard plus effort from well inside his own half which Glossop keeper Matt Cooper did very well to turn on to his crossbar. Just 5 minutes later Nick Bailey rattled Whitley’s woodwork with a great strike from just outside the area.

On 36 minutes Lee Kerr opened the scoring, having created space on the edge of the area he clinically smashed the ball to the keeper’s nearside to send Bay fans wild. And just minutes before half time Paul Chow and Adam Johnston broke following a Glossop attack and after excellent work Chow calmly finished to claim his 40th goal of the season. Whitley started the second half brightly and had several chances to put the tie beyond Glossop, and although Glossop pushed Whitley hard in the last 10 minutes Bay held on to claim an excellent and well deserved victory.

2009/10 was yet another memorable season with Whitley fighting on four fronts for honours. Despite fixture congestion counting against them, they won the Northumberland Senior Cup at St James Park, defeating Ashington 2-1. Whitley had previously beaten a strong Newcastle United Reserve side in the Semi-Final. The Bay reached the semi final of the League Cup but went down 2-1 to South Shields. For a third successive season, they finished 3rd in the league despite a backlog of fixtures due to the severe winter weather.

But once again Wembley beckoned when after victories over Alsager Town, Boldmere St Michaels, Poole Town, Chertsey Town and Shildon, an epic two legged semi final against Barwell saw Whitley come from 3-1 down with five minutes left in the first leg to draw 3-3. Then in the return leg, a near 3,000 crowd witnessed a sensational finish when Paul Robinson’s diving header in stoppage time won the game and the tie amid ecstatic scenes at Hillheads. And so Whitley Bay reached the FA Vase Final for the third time and for the second successive season.

This time Bay’s opponents were Wroxham from the Eastern Counties League. The thousands of fans who made the trip from the north east to Wembley were celebrating after only 21 seconds when Paul Chow took advantage of hesitation in the Wroxham defence to score the fastest goal ever seen in a Wembley Final, a record that remains to this day. Although Wroxham got an equaliser, Whitley’s lead was soon restored when a Richard Hodgson free kick was turned into his own net by a Wroxham defender. Lee Kerr’s spectacular effort after just 50 seconds of the second half ensured the Vase would be coming back to Whitley Bay for a record equalling third time. Further goals from Adam Johnston, Paul Robinson and Josh Gillies completed the 6-1 victory, the highest score in the history of the FA Vase Final. Paul Chow was also named Man of the Match.


2010/11 again saw Whitley finish 3rd in the league, but only goal difference denied them runners up spot. Could they make it three FA Vase wins in a row? It had never been done before and despite comfortable home victories over AFC Liverpool and Dunstable Town, several times it took late goals to keep Whitley on course, notably at Herne Bay and Dunston. Inevitably, the semi final was drama packed, as two very late goals in Dorset, the second in stoppage time, gave Whitley a crucial 2-1 lead to bring back from Poole Town. The return leg at Hillheads saw Poole take an early lead but a Paul Chow hat trick sent the Bay back to Wembley where Leicestershire side Coalville Town gave Whitley their toughest test yet and an epic Final was decided by Paul Chow’s 86th minute winner as Whitley triumphed 3-2. Chow, who had scored in every round, and Kerr, had twice given Whitley the lead as they both set the remarkable record of scoring in three consecutive Vase Finals. A great display from keeper Terry Burke earned him the man of the match award on his last appearance of an outstanding career. And so Whitley Bay completed a record breaking hat trick of Vase successes and became the first team ever to win the trophy four times.

In November 2011 the Club was honoured with the award of the Freedom of the Borough of North Tyneside. After the tremendous achievements of recent years, this was a comparatively disappointing season as Whitley finally relinquished their grip on the FA Vase. After comprehensive victories over Tadcaster, Bridlington and South Park, their record breaking 29 match unbeaten run in the competition came to an end when a goal deep into stoppage time saw them suffer a 5th Round defeat against West Auckland, who went on to reach the Final. In the league Whitley had to settle for 6th place with Paul Chow scoring 33 goals, while Kyle Hayes was voted the League’s Young Player of the Year.

2012/13 For the fifth time in six years, Whitley finished 3rd in the League. They also reached the Northumberland Senior Cup Final. At an individual level, Paul Chow scored his 200th goal for the club on his way to a season’s total of 46 goals and midfielder James Fairley was named Northern League Young Player of the Year.

2013/14 It was the end of an era in February 2014 when Ian Chandler resigned after ten hugely successful years as manager. It had been a disappointing season with the club struggling below mid table after several key players had left during the summer. Leon Ryan was appointed temporary manager and a dramatic upturn in form saw him given the job on a permanent basis as Whitley reached the League Cup Final at St James’ Park, only to lose to Marske after extra time.

2014/15 A disappointing season saw manager Leon Ryan resign after less than a year in charge. His replacement Paddy Atkinson took over in January and began a rebuilding process which saw the departure of Whitley Bay legend Paul Chow, who returned to his home town club Jarrow Roofing after scoring 270 goals in 404 Bay appearances.

2015/16 The season started well with an excellent FA Cup run to the 3rd Qualifying Round. On the way there was a memorable victory on penalties over Matlock Town from the Northern Premier League before National League North side Chorley ended the run with a narrow 3-2 win at Hillheads. Form then dipped badly and with the club hovering around the relegation zone, Paddy Atkinson departed in February and the club turned to former manager Ian Chandler who guided the side to a 16th place finish. Initially a temporary appointment, his position was made permanent at the end of the season. Adam Shanks scored a remarkable 42 goals in his first season at the club and was named Player of the Year.

2016/17 Whitley fell at the first hurdle in both major cup competitions, beaten by lower status opponents and in October, former reserve team boss Marc Nash, who was appointed assistant in the summer, replaced Ian Chandler as manager. He immediately brought in two former Bay stalwarts Anthony Woodhouse and Chris Moore and the new management team guided the club to an unexpected sixth place finish ending the season with a hugely impressive eleven match unbeaten run.

2017/18 A season that started with optimism ended in disappointment and a 16th place finish. Encouraging early season form was not maintained and the management team resigned in February to join neighbours North Shields. Andy Gowens who led the club to their first FA Vase success returned as manager faced with a major rebuilding job.

2018/19 A good FA Cup run ended in the 2nd Qualifying Round at Altrincham and an inconsistent season followed. Andy Gowens left in November and after three months in charge, when the club slipped into the bottom three, his former assistant Mick Mulhern was dismissed to be replaced by Nathan Haslam. The club reached the League Cup semi final but ended the season in 13th place.


The seahorse was adopted by the club as it’s emblem in the 1964-65 season, after a competition was run by the club, the winner was Mr. Derek Hall. Derek got in touch to tell us that his prize for coming up with the design was 1 and a season ticket!

Whitley Bay F.C. were elected to full membership of the F.A. in 1967 after five years as associate members.

Hillheads Park was the venue for the British University Soccer Final in 1967 in which Cambridge University beat Scottish University 3-1.

The second replay of the amateur cup tie against Wimbledon in March 1961 was the first ever amateur cup tie played under floodlights.