Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Magic of the Cup; Blyth Spartans Legend Alan Shoulder Relives

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Magic of the Cup; Blyth Spartans Legend Alan Shoulder Relives

Article excerpt

Byline: By LEE RYDER

BOTTLE, market it, sell it and you'd be a millionaire.

Or at least that's one way of summing up the magic potion that somehow, against all odds, drove little Blyth Spartans into the last 16 of the FA Cup back in 1978 - and within a whisker of the quarter-finals.

For Alan Shoulder, the experience wasn't just one for the scrapbook, it transformed his life as he went from working long hours down the pit with no daylight to the glare of the St James' Park floodlights.

Back in 1977, Blyth had already battled their way through the four qualifiers and a first round assignment with Burscough to set up a tie with Arthur Cox's Chesterfield when Croft Park boss Jackie Marks saw fit to snap up Shoulder from Bishop Auckland to give him his Northern League chance.

It meant Shoulder combined coal mining with training and playing part-time for Blyth, his playing fee a mere pounds 14 a week.

"Sometimes I would come up for training after working a full day down the pit having not seen daylight.," said Shoulder "I joined Blyth when they had Chesterfield in the second round under Arthur Cox and we beat them.

"I watched that game from the stands. They got Enfield in the third round.

"They could have got anybody, Arsenal, Man United, Liverpool, Newcastle, Sunderland but ended up with Enfield of all teams!

"But luckily for me I scored the winner and we got into round four.

"I joined the Cup run mid-stream and the lads had done a great job getting us to the latter stages."

Again the famous velvet bag gripped the town of Blyth with FA Cup fever as thousands of fans jumped on the green-and-white bandwagon.

But their reward wasn't a trip to the Theatre of Dreams - next up was plucky Stoke!

Shoulder says: "We got Stoke City from the Second Division, just like Newcastle at that time. We couldn't believe it.

"It was away and not the best draw.

"But there were plenty of Geordies behind us and my mother came. …

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