Spennymoor Town, not the most illustrious name in some people’s eyes but one who are rubbing shoulders with ex Football League clubs York City and Stockport County amongst others in their debut National League North season. Spennymoor Town have undertaken a remarkable rise from the Northern League to National League in the space of just 3 years and already look to be making themselves at home one tier away from the pinnacle of non-league football. A previous strong history of Spennymoor Utd was taken to create Spennymoor Town in a merger with Evenwood a little over 11 years ago and that history has taken itself more than one step further.
The catalyst? The FA Vase final of 2012-13, 16,000 people inside Wembley who saw the northern stranglehold of Vase triumphs continue with Town beating Tunbridge Wells 2-1. Contrast the Wells fortunes, they remain at Step 5 possibly wondering could this progress have been theirs instead?
That win provided the spark needed to kick on and with it, the league title the following season for the 4th time in 5 years. Having applied for promotion before the FA deadline, the club duly accepted the invitation to move up to Step 4 and into the Northern Premier League Division One North, something most clubs in the Northern League declined to accept in past years hence their domination in the Vase over the past decade or so, clubs not wanting to commit to the extra travel involved moving outside the comfort zone.
They say ‘success breeds success’ and Town certainly seems to follow this to the letter. Following up on promotion came an FA Cup run to the 4th qualifying round, possibly just a pipe dream 12 months earlier. Not content with stopping there, they made the play offs in their first year outside the comfort of the Northern League, a minor blip in losing to another former Football League side in a different guise, Darlington.
Not to rest on their laurels, they went one better in 2015-16 and won the play offs, moving up to Step 3 and a second promotion in three years, real momentum gained and not ready to stop. Once again Town’s relentless push up the pyramid carried them to a runners up spot and into the play offs once more, where the defeat of Stourbridge saw them win promotion to the National League North and crown a truly remarkable rise in such a short space of time.
Apart from the former FL clubs, they are surrounded in the table by more than a handful of clubs who have played National League football over the past decade whilst Spennymoor Town were still very much an ingrained Northern League club, today those aim’s are much higher and while currently holding their own just outside the play offs, there’s no reason why this fairy-tale can’t continue this season and onto a further promotion.
In an age where managers don’t occupy the hot seat for more than a couple of years, Jason Ainsley has presided over the whole decade of progress and success and is closing in on 500 games in charge, a figure most can only dream of achieving and there doesn’t appear to be any sign of Ainsley calling it a day anytime soon.
For those at Wembley back in 2013, no one could’ve had the foresight to see this meteoric rise in such a short space of time and hopefully it will provoke more Northern League clubs to take the plunge, leave the safety of Step 5 and make a go of it, after all, supporters want to see success but also progress, the chance to visit new grounds and take in new places, Town have done it, whose going to be next?