BILLINGHAM TOWN was originally known as Billlingham Social Club and was founded in 1967 by Tom Donnelly and Robbie Cushley. Tom, who played in Town’s first game back in 1968, has been secretary of Billingham Town since its conception until 2000 when he relinquished this post to become chairman of the club and subsequently is now life president.
In 1968 Town joined the Second Division of the Stockton & District League and won the league title at the first attempt, playing at Mill Lane and the legendary slope – the top of the corner flag was level with the crossbar. Town stayed in the Stockton League until 1973 and won the Division A League title three times and the League Cup twice and also winning the Stockton Charity Cup twice.
In 1974 Town were admitted into the Teesside League and remained members for eight years. During this time they won the League twice (1978-79 and 1981-82) and were runners-up once. In 1975 they were beaten finalists in the Durham Amateur Cup Final, but won the competition in 1976 and 1982.
In 1982 the club took the golden opportunity of joining the newly formed Second Division of the Dryboroughs Northern League and changed its name to Billingham Town. After three years in the Second Division Town gained promotion into the First Division but were immediately relegated back to the Second Division in 1986. However, they bounced straight back in 1987 and lost to neighbours Synthonia in the final of the Durham Challenge Cup a year later. Another relegation followed in 1991-92, but they regained their place in the top flight in 1997-98 and have remained there since.
After being runners-up in the Durham Challenge Cup in 1988-89 and 2001-02 Town eventually won the cup in season 2003-04 when manager Alan Robinson led them to a 3-1 victory over then UniBond side Bishop Auckland.
Since 1981, ground improvements at the Bedford Terrace ground have resulted in new dressing rooms, a cantilever stand, hard terracing behind one goal, hard terracing and covered accommodation opposite the main stand. A refreshment room and a re-turfed pitch surrounded by an 8ft boundary fence around 5.5. acres of land.
After long delays over planning permission and hitting methane gas, Town finally built their clubhouse. The clubhouse provides changing accommodation for the junior football section plus a social club for after match hospitality and for local community to use. The work will not stop there as Town hope to provide better facilities for the community, both on the playing field and in the social and sporting facilities.
Bedford Terrace is now recognised as having one of the more attractive grounds in the North-East. Floodlights were installed in the 1992-93 season with the official switch-on match against Middlesbrough F.C. After sever gales blew down one of the pylons, Town installed new floodlights in 2003.
In the summer of 2007 Hartlepool United invested in Bedford Terrace and completely re-laid the football pitch to a depth of several feet and installed new drainage. The new pitch measurements and now exactly the same measurements of Pool’s Victoria Park. Also behind the scenes there has been a total facelift with new showers and central heating being put in the dressing rooms. Hartlepool now play the majority of their home Reserve games at Bedford Terrace.
In 2009 things turned sour with Hartlepool and when they took away the goalposts prior to Town’s first game of the season. Town’s committee hurriedly obtained some temporary posts and the game against Bishop Auckland took place. Since then Hartlepool have slapped a Winding-up Petition on Town which is still ongoing through the courts.
In the 2006-07 Town had their most successful league season under the management of Michael Watson, Lee Tucker and Mark Scott and just missed out on the league title after Whitley Bay won their last game of the season to beat Town on goal difference.
Town could not keep the momentum going in season 2007-08 and finished 10th top in the League but beat Shildon 2-1 in the League Cup in a exciting game at Seaham’s ground, but after the game the management team and the majority of the players walked away from Bedford Terrace leaving Town with a mammoth task for the following season.
Town appointed Peter Mulcaster late May 2008 and he had the task of keeping Town in the First Division with a budget of zero and with only four players signed on. Peter managed to cobble together a team for the start of the 2008-09 season and managed to keep them in the league finishing sixth bottom.
Season 2009-10 was a lot harder for Peter, but he kept the team in the league, finishing fourth bottom. At the end of the season Peter resigned and Carl Jarrett took over as manager. Carl brought in an influx of new players and Town hoped to make progress in the league once again.
The club finished the 2010/11 season 15th in the league with 46 points; 14 ahead of the bottom three. With almost all of the squad re-signing for the 2011/2012 season and a renewed sense of optimism that the club can again improve and climb the table
Since the formation of the club and as a result of an extremely successful youth policy, Town have produced a number of players that have progressed to the professional game. Anthony Barrett (York City and Hartlepool United), Gerry Forrest (Southampton), Mark Hines, (Grimsby and Peterborough), Dave Robinson (Halifax Town), Tony Hall (Middlesbrough). Most notable of course was Gary Pallister who played for both Town’s junior and senior teams, before moving on to Middlesbrough, Manchester United and England, before returning to Middlesbrough until his retirement with back injury.
Most recently is Town old boy Neal Bishop who originally played for Conference side Scarborough before moving to York City. He then transferred to Barnet and was club captain. In the summer of 2009 Neal joined Notts County and after a successful season will now be playing in Division One in the 2010-11 season.
BILLINGHAM TOWN F.C. CLUB HONOURS
League Cup winners: 2007-08
Arngrove Northern League runners-up: 2006-07
Dryboroughs Northern League runners-up: 1996-97
Durham Amateur Cup: 1967-77, 19778-78
Teesside League champions: 1977-78, 1982-83
Durham Challenge Cup: 2003-04. Runners-up: 1988-89, 2001-02
North Riding Senior Cup runners-up: 1976-77, 1971-82
Stockton & District League Champions: x 3
The Old Boys
OVER THE years several players who had their start at Billingham Town went on to have careers in the full time game. Pride of place must go to the only one who went on to win international caps, GARY PALLISTER, who did in fact win almost every honour in the game. He joined Middlesbrough in November 1984 from Billingham Town and went on to play 189 games for them, plus seven for Darlington, where he had a loan spell a year after joining Boro. In August 1989 he was sold to Manchester United for £2.3m and over the next nine years, along with Steve Bruce, formed a vital part of the United side that won virtually everything. In the summer of 1989, after 437 games for United, he was sold back to Middlesbrough for a £200,000 profit. Though he did play 61 games back at Middlesbrough, injuries were taking their toll and it was no surprise when he retired in the summer of 2001.
MARK HINE played for Billingham Town and Whitby Town before being signed by Grimsby Town in October 1983. Over the next 10 years Mark played 252 games for Grimsby, Darlington, Peterborough, Scunthorpe and Doncaster Rovers. Since leaving the full time game he played with Gateshead, Stalybridge Celtic, Spennymoor and Whitby Town among others, picking England Semi-Pro caps up along the way.
DAVE ROBINSON left Billingham to start his league career at Hartlepool in August 1983, and over the next three years played 66 league games for them before being transferred to Halifax Town. Again he had three years with the club, adding 72 league games to his total. His next move took him to Peterborough where he played 95 league games in what had become his usual three year stay. His league career ended at Notts County where he played just three games in two years.
Two football league clubs actually signed TONY BARRETT from Billingham Town. Grimsby Town signed him first, but released him after he had played 28 games for them. He rejoined Billingham, however after a few months Hartlepool United paid £1,000 for his services and he rewarded them with 116 games before moving to York City in March 1989. He went on to play 166 times for York, but sadly his last season there was marred by a serious groin injury and he was released in the summer of 1955.
Not quite making the grade was another Town ‘old boy’, TONY HALL. As an 18-year-old he left Town for Tranmere Rovers where he made just one appearance as a substitute. Two months later he was at Hartlepool and during his time there he again made just one appearance as a sub, and that unfortunately was the end of his football league career.
Ironically, GRAEME HALL, who left Billingham to go to a bigger club never tasted league football. Graeme was signed by Arsenal and though he was sign on pro forms in 1994, he was freed a year later without a first team game. He then spent a season with Barnet, but again failed to make an appearance.
GERRY FORREST played for Southampton and Rotherham and also represented the Saints in veterans, still plays in the Over 40’s league alongside Town old boys Paul Rowntree, George and Gary Woodhouse.
NEAL BISHOP played for Town for a number of years before moving to UniBond sides Gateshead, Spennymoor and Whitby Town. He then played Conference football with Scarborough before being transferred to York City where he was instrumental in the Minsterman’s campaign in 2006-07, helping them towards the play-offs with some impressive midfield displays. He eventually won the ‘Player’s Player of the Year’ and the ‘Supporters Player of the Year’. After being out of contract with York City in June 2007 he signed for Barnet and immediately stamped his authority on the Barnet midfield with his displays being a central feature of the Bees good start to that season. Neal won England C honours that season and finished up as club captain of Barnett before his transfer to Notts County in the summer of 2009 where he had a successful season finishing in County winning the league and promotion to Division 1.