CELTIC’S BAND OF GREATER FOR­TUNE

The Non-League Football Paper - - RESULTS SERVICE - By Mark Car­ruthers

IT has been a tough few months for Ebac North­ern League Di­vi­sion Two club West Al­lot­ment Celtic.

A dis­pute over the cost of hir­ing their pre­vi­ous home at Whit­ley Park led them close to the brink of ex­tinc­tion. Their land­lords, the Northum­ber­land FA, in­creased the cost of hir­ing the fa­cil­ity from £4,500 to £7,500.

That in­crease was de­scribed by the club as “ex­or­bi­tant” at the time and they set about the task of find­ing a new home. After months of hard work, ne­go­ti­a­tion and panic, Druid Park, former home of the now-dis­solved New­cas­tle Blue Star, now hosts West Al­lot­ment’s home games.

But club chair­man Jim Wil­son has re­vealed just how close they came to fold­ing after al­most 90 years of foot­ball at West Al­lot­ment Celtic.

He said “The ba­sics were there are at Druid Park, but the most im­por­tant thing from the com­mit­tee’s point of view was the fact that we had been made very wel­come.

“That was a re­fresh­ing change from our pre­vi­ous land­lords. It was close, very close to go­ing un­der in fact.

“Had Druid Park not of­fered us the chance to come here we would have been stuck. We had nothing else on the ta­ble, it was that close to go­ing un­der and be­ing the end of West Al­lot­ment Celtic.”

The North Ty­ne­side club has also been through many other changes dur­ing a busy sum­mer. Former man­ager Paul Ben­nett has re­turned to the club and has over­seen a mas­sive turnover of play­ers.

Only three play­ers re­main from last sea­son’s squad, with as many as 17 new faces signed on. That led to a dis­jointed start to the new cam­paign, but things are turn­ing around.

A mid­week win against Bedling­ton Ter­ri­ers made it four wins in a row in all com­pe­ti­tions. And Wil­son be­lieves that the club can now move on from their dif­fi­cul­ties. “It has been a tur­bu­lent time,” ad­mit­ted the Celtic chair­man. “Not only do we have a new ground, but we have a new man­ager and a new team. “All of those things take time to set­tle but I think we have turned a cor­ner and things are com­ing to­gether now. We are here for 10 years, we have a 10-year con­tract with Druid Park but there is a view to stay­ing longer. “We do need a few younger bod­ies to come in and help the com­mit­tee as we are all a bit older. But the club’s fu­ture is se­cure for at least ten years and hope­fully a lot longer than that. “Next sea­son is our 90th an­niver­sary and we do plan to mark that with some­thing spe­cial.”

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