Northern Lights

The Northern League is the second oldest football league in the world, and they are exceptionally (and rightly) proud of the fact. Even though non-league football’s big reorganisation of 2004, in which two regional “second” divisions were added to the Football Conference, pushed it a step down the ladder, it remains a league that is fiercely proud of its independence. The league built its reputation on the large number of senior non-league clubs in the north-east of England, and even now there are clubs that you will recognise amongst its ranks, such as former FA Amateur Cup giants Bishop Auckland and FA Cup giant-killers Bedlington Terriers and Whitley Bay. One of its oldest clubs is Ashington AFC, a club which represents a town that is beloved in the media as one of northern England’s traditional “football hotbeds” – a club that has been rail-roaded by its local council into the brave new world of out of town stadia. Best known as the home town of Bobby & Jack Charlton and Jackie Milburn, Ashington’s football club has spent much of its 125 years living a hand to mouth existence. Nicknamed (perhaps unsurprisingly) “The Colliers”, the club remains fiercely proud of its history, which includes an eight year stay in the Football League. Placed in the Third Division North when the league expanded to four divisions in 1921, they were voted...

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