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Sad day approches for Norton United

Wednesday, 22 April 2015 14:14

This Saturday will be a sad day for Norton United when they play their last game as a senior club writes NLD North East writer Ray Simpson

The EvoStik First Division South side has decided to fold, because it can’t afford to play at its Community Drive ground in Smallthorne and become nomads.

The club has been involved in a dispute with its landlords, who have demanded that the club pays £650 to play every home game, a figure that is way beyond its budget. The club was locked out of its headquarters in November soon after they were knocked out of the FA Cup by Gateshead, and were asked for a total of £10,000 in rent to complete the rest of this season, with extra charges for their second and third teams.

Since then, they have played their league matches on neighbouring grounds, and are thankful for the kind gestures of the clubs involved. They have played at Stafford Rangers, Market Drayton, Kidsgrove and Newcastle Town.

For next season, they were quoted £20,000 by their landlords, which for a club of Norton’s size with recent crowds of less than 100, is way beyond their means.

Secretary Dennis Vickers, who has been with the club since it was formed 42 years ago as a player and administrator, said; “We only had 48 people at our last home game, which came nowhere near the break even figure. We lost over £1,000 on the day, a figure which we can’t afford to lose every week.

“We have to cut our cloth accordingly. We had provisionally arranged to groundshare next season at Newcastle Town, but we have pulled out of that.

“I must say that the EvoStik League has been absolutely magnificent, and have helped us as much as possible. The same goes for many clubs in this area who we’ve approached for help.”

Norton will therefore be playing their last game at Market Drayton, 25 miles away, against Sutton Coldfield on Saturday.

“We want to celebrate the day as much as possible. We’re putting on a special coach for supporters, and then we’re going to return to the village afterwards and celebrate the end of the season.

“It’s ironic that after starting as a Sunday side all those years ago, we’re now going to bow out at the highest level we’ve ever played at.”

Interview: Ray Simpson



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