22/3/2014 Lawyers set to claim league record
Tow Law Town, a small football club with a very big heart, plays its 3,000th Northern League game – a league record – on Saturday Match 22. Usually £5 for adults, admission for the match with South Shields will be free.
Bob Rogers, grandson of Northern League founder Charles Samuel Craven, will before the 3pm kick off make a presentation on behalf of the league. Many former players and officials are expected to attend.
Known as the Lawyers, the club on a windy west Durham ridge has many claims to football fame.
*The Ironworks Road ground, built by striking miners in 1892, is England’s second highest senior football ground – after Buxton.
*The Lawyers beat Football League club 5-1 in the FA Cup first round in 1967. “It was like being at the North Pole,” complained the Mansfield manager.
*In the next round they drew 1-1 with Shrewsbury, the third round draw pairing the winners at home to Arsenal. Shrewsbury won. “Arsenal have been saved from a fate worse than death,” wrote Frank McGhee in the Daily Mirror.
*Though the town has a population of little more than 2,000, the club reached the FA Vase final at Wembley in 1998, losing 1-0 to Tiverton. The sun shone; they claimed not to have had enough time to acclimatize.
*Sam Gordon became the first mascot allowed to lead out his team at Wembley after pressure from the league and the club. Sandra, his mother, is now club chairman.
*Chris Waddle, a sausage seasoner from Tyneside, played for Tow Law before becoming one of England’s most famous internationals.
*Three club officials – Harry Dixon, Bernard Fairbairn and Harry Hodgson – totalled 150 years of service between them, mostly simultaneously.
The Lawyers were Northern League members from 1894-1900, rejoined in 1920 and have remained ever since.
Incredibly, until four years ago they had never been relegated. Punching far above their weight, if not their height, they won the league in 1924, 1925 and 1995.
Northern League chairman Mike Amos said that just for the club to have survived was a remarkable achievement. “Everyone knows how wild it can get up there, the inhospitableness of the elements matched only by the warmth of those who for so many years have kept the club alive.
“So far as I can gather, Dulwich Hamlet of the Isthmian League are the only club in the National League System who’ve played more games in the same competition. Tow Law are a smashing football club run by dedicated and indomitable people. They deserve all the praise in the world.”
Club secretary Steve Moralee, a retired police officer, is one of a small band who work seven days a week to keep the Lawyers playing – in every sense – at a high level.
“I know that we’re only a very small community but we really would welcome more support, especially behind the scenes,” he said. “We’re now competing against some pretty big clubs; to have achieved this record is a source of real satisfaction.”
Many former players and officials have been invited to the match with South Shields on March 22. “We’ve cancelled admission charges in the hope that the whole community will want to be part of a genuine celebration,” said Steve.