During the early part of the 20th Century there were several attempts to establish Washington Football Club in the local community with mixed success. Many good players were discovered though, some progressing to the professional ranks. Our version of Washington Football Club was established in 1947 by the miners of Washington ‘F’ Pit. All that now remains of the Colliery is the Pit Wheelhouse (which is a museum), but the Football Club goes on, providing sporting opportunities for players of all ages.
It’s fair to say that the club has had contrasting fortunes over the years with a number of highs and lows. The following briefly outlines key moments in the progress of the Club.
Climbing through the Leagues
After some initial friendly games, the club joined the Gateshead and District League in 1947 under the banner of Washington Mechanics. After two seasons they were elected to the Washington Amateur League. Throughout the 1950s the club enjoyed much success and continued to develop. Looking to progress, they moved on to the Northern Alliance League in 1964. That move only lasted only one season, as the club was successful in their application to the Wearside League, joining under the new name of Washington Football Club. A long association with the Wearside lasted until 1988. In Season 1988/89 the club finally achieved a long held ambition to join the Northern League.
Around the Grounds
The early games were played on a pitch in Spout Lane, Washington, which was little more than a village green at the time. Upon entry to the Wearside League, the club moved to Usworth Park, a well maintained Colliery Welfare ground with excellent playing surface. In 1975, the continued development of Washington New Town saw the Colliery Welfare ground make way for a new trunk road. The club was forced to move to Glebe Park, to share council facilities with several other teams.
After much lobbying, the club finally leased a ground from the New Towns Commission in 1979, which was brought up to Wearside League standard for the start of the 1980/81 season. The new ground, Albany Park, was subsequently purchased by the club and developed with the addition of a licensed Clubhouse, and Stands. In February 1991 a fire gutted the clubhouse, and for two years the club played home games at Ryhope C.A.
The club returned to Albany Park for the 1992/93 season and continued to improve the facilities with the addition of Floodlights and Seating areas. In 2003, the limited company, which owned Albany Park and ran the club, went into liquidation. The ground was then purchased by local businessman Russell Foster, who later sold it on to Camerons Brewery. The club continued to play at Albany Park until the end of the 2009/2010 season, but deteriorating facilities and doubts about the long term future of the ground, forced the club to look for a new home. An approach was made to the nearby Nissan Sports & Leisure Complex – a wonderful set-up in the grounds of the Nissan Car Factory. The club was generously welcomed and has played home matches there since the start of the 2010/2011 season.
Post Albany Park
A poor start to the 2013/2014 season saw the club languishing at the bottom of the Northern League 2nd Division. In September 2013, the club appointed Steven Hutchinson as Team Manager, and fortunes began to change. A respectable mid table finish that season was bettered in 2014/2015 when promotion to the Northern League 1st division was achieved. Finishing in the top half of the 1st Division in season 2015/2016 and a good run in the FA Cup saw the club continuing to progress. Onwards and Upwards.
In the first few seasons at NSLC, the club finished in mid-table of the Ebac Northern League Second Division but continued to develop links with the management of NSLC (Gary Collin) and Chairman of the Nissan Sports Football Section (Graeme English). In September 2013, they were instrumental in helping to recruit Steven Hutchinson as Manager of the team. Steve arrived when the club was languishing at the foot of the table with only one point from the opening 10 games. A great run of results saw them finish in a respectable league position and reach the final of the Ernest Armstrong Cup (loosing narrowly 1-0 to Jarrow Roofing). Progress continued, and in the following season (2014-2015) the club finished runners-up and were promoted to the Ebac Northern League First Division
Season 2015/2016 brought consolidation in the First Division, and a great run in the FA Cup only going out in a replay to Marine FC – (a team two divisions higher in the FA Pyramid System). The departure of Steven Hutchinson, early into the 2016/17 season, caused much disruption in the club. His assistant Neil Hixon did a sterling job to ‘steady the ship’ but work commitments meant Neil also had to stand down from his management duties. Richie Latimer was then appointed as Team Manager. Richie had previously played for and managed the Club and brought in James Clark as Assistant Manager with Michael Laws as Player/Coach. Prior to joining the Club, James had been coach with Whitley Bay, while Michael was part of the Spennymoor Town side that won 3 league titles in 4 years. After only 6 weeks, work commitments once again saw the Manager depart, as Richie also had to step down. Fortunately, Clark and Laws took over the reins, and successfully steered the Club away from potential relegation.
Joining Forces – Washington FC and AFC
At the end of the 2016/17 season, due to lack volunteers running the club, notice was submitted to the Northern Football League for the club to withdraw its membership for the 2017/18 season. It was a dark day is the history of the club and it was about to disappear into the books of history. An appeal was subsequently made in the local press/social media etc, to find help to take over/assist with the administration of the club.
A local Community Club where football is for all. They are a well run organisation with a wealth of administrative experience (currently running 48 teams). They provide training for girls and boys in age groups ranging from Under 7s to Under 14s boys and hope to have at least one team in every age division up to Under 18s
The Committee at Washington AFC stepped in to take over running Washington FC and withdrew the clubs resignation from the League. The two clubs are now joining forces. Although the clubs will continue to run independently, members of the AFC Committee will be taking over the main administrative roles installing Rob Cutler as Chairman and Treasurer.
Local volunteers have also stepped up and a new Club Secretary, Steve Haywood and Media Team have been formed.
Previous Secretary & Chairman, Derek Armstrong; Club President, Tom Boylen and Fundraising Coordinator Graeme English continue to support the club along with the Management and Team at Nissan Sports and Leisure Complex.
Gateshead & District League Cup Finalist
Washington Amateur League Champions
7 times between 1956 – 1963
Washington Amateur Cup Winners
3 times between 1956 – 1961
Gateshead Charity Cup Winners
Durham Trophy Winners
1957 & 1961
Wearside League Runners Up
1967 & 1975
FA Cup (4th Qual rd v Bradford Park Avenue)
Wearside League Cup Runners Up
Ernest Armstrong Cup Finalist
Promotion to 1st Div Northern League
2001, 2007 & 2015
Washington Colliery 1917–18 season