Easington Colliery

Wearside Shipowners Cup -1st Round

Easington Colliery 4 Annfield Plain 0
Atten: c35 
Gate: £2 (incl free hot drink)


Day Enjoyment: 9/10

After much deliberation due to poor weather forecasts at Bamber Bridge and Shirebrook Town i decided to head to the North East to Easington Colliery.
Upon arrival on Wearside I was greeted with beautiful autumn sunshine. But the chilly wind reminded me where i actually was.I was reassured with the knowledge that Welfare Park spectators could treat themselves to a panoramic, picture postcard vista of the Durham coastline and the North Sea should the standard of football slip. Today's competition was the beautifully named Wearside Shipowners Cup.

The Shipowners' Cup was inaugurated in the 1898-99 season by Alderman Ralph B. Annison. The money raised from the competition went to the Boys' Orphanage on the edge of Sunderland's Town Moor.The Orphan Asylum was built in Sunderland's East End at a cost of £4,000. It opened for 'inmates' on October 17th, 1861. The boys in the Asylum were from the homes of lost seaman.
On average there were 40 boys at the Orphanage at any one time. Their education had a strong nautical flavour. There was a sailing ship in the grounds for instruction in rigging etc. It was not surprising, therefore, that many of the boys went to sea. Between 1901 and 1902 alone, one old boy received the freedom of the borough for service in South Africa, one passed as Extra Master, one as First Class Engineer, one as Mate while another was appointed Master of a Workhouse in Northumberland.

The entrance to the ground is reached by a long walk on foot down a tree-lined lane which provides a lasting and poignant memorial to one of the worst mining disasters in British history. Easington Colliery was the main employer in the village from late Victorian times and in 1951 an explosion occurred in an area of the mine known as the ‘Duck Bill,’ thought to have been caused by sparks from a mechanical coal cutter which ignited a pocket of gas. Thousands of tons of rock and earth came crashing down into the coal seam, trapping the miners some 900 ft below the surface. Many of the casualties died instantly, others from carbon monoxide poisoning and a total of 81 miners lost their lives with the final death toll rising to 83 as two rescuers gave their lives selflessly trying to save others 

A disaster fund was set-up for the widows and children of the deceased and donations poured in from world-wide, the fund total eventually reaching £180,000. A Garden of Remembrance was built in Easington Colliery Cemetery for those who lost their lives in the disaster and a Memorial Lane leading down to the Welfare which remains a well maintained and poignant symbol of remembrance for the Village. The Colliery finally closed in 1993, leaving the village to become one of the unemployment black-spots in the UK . This was more recently highlighted by the Channel 4 Documentary “The Secret Millionaire”.

Easington Colliery Band was founded in 1913. Players with band experience were encouraged by the management to come from the West of Durham to work at the colliery and play in the band. The band was supported financially and run by the joint board of unions, until the start of World War II.

In 1956 the Public Band and the Colliery Band amalgamated to become the Easington Colliery Band as it is today. April 1993 witnessed the end of an era when Easington Colliery finally closed. The band is now totally self-supporting and relies on the work put in by the band members at concerts throughout the year to raise the funds to keep the band alive. The band is still based in Easington Colliery in the old colliery pay office opposite the Memorial Gardens, which is on the site of the old colliery. The building is the last remaining evidence of the pit.
Easington's other recent claims to fame was that it the chosen setting for the hit film Billy Elliot. The film is set during the miners' strike in the mid 1980s. The less appealing one was that during the National Census of 2001 , Easington was voted the most “white” town to live in England.

The hard working, multi-tasking and loyal Staff somehow keep this club a float often performing a thankless task. When I arrived today the wrinkly's were already in action on the adjoining pitch in the Welfare Park moments later the committee were cleaning out the changing rooms in preparation for the first teams arrival in a few minutes, reminiscent of an airline cleaning staff turning around a jumbo jet at Heathrow airport. The football ground is lovingly maintained, the terraces along the nearside smart and neat, an immaculate small seated stand. The well run tea bar must have one of the finest views from their serving window of any sports stadia in the country.

With the embarrassingly cheap £2 entrance which included a free hot beverage,a most tasty Steak Pie , Hot Dog, all washed down with an enjoyable coffee , all served with a friendly smile and a thick Mackem accent and I still had change for a five pound note.

On a bright and mercifully dry afternoon, the winds had abated and both sides were able to put on a good display of football for the thirty to forty faithful on the terraces and in the stand. It was then it hit me, I was so pleased to finally be here today and my choice could not have been any better as I looked as far as the eye could see across the calmy waters of the unforgiving North Sea. The game itself was competitive from the start but gradually the hosts took control and ran out comfortable 4-0 winners to send them through to the next round of this locally historic cup. The clubs colours are Green & White stripes but today they sadly played in dark blue. The Chairman had gone on holiday and forgot to inform anyone as to where he had left the clean kit.

As I said my farewell , I was immediately invited back by the friendly locals and I assured them that I will pass by again some time in the future but only if it was warmer that what I had witnessed today “nae lad, …. today has been like a summer's day” came he quick witted response. I actually believed them , as there was I , bedecked in my warmest winter overcoat and scarf and they were just in their shirts and jeans ….. short sleeved shirts of course !.


  1. Jerry

    Easington. A fascinating but frightening sort of place. I went there in March 2012 but on a misty day so I didn't see that fine sea view to my enormous disappointment. Great name for a cup!



  2. Paul,
    I agree ,what a wonderful name for a cup. If truth be told it was the name that caught my original attention to this fixture

    I was very aware that a visit to Easington had to be well planned due to its unpredictable weather. I was determined to visit on a clear day and with all other options having rain , i decided to go...... and what a great choice it proved to be. Everything was perfect in every way, glorious autumn sunshine. Even the roads behaved impeccably. To also make it a double with Seaham Red Star just crowned a very memorable day.

    Thanks for the feedback
    see you around