REDGATE Clayton were looking forward to celebrating their 50th anniversary as a football club at the weekend, but all that’s had to be put on hold due to the coronavirus crisis.
The Staffs County Senior League outfit had a great response from past and present players, committee and supporters who all wanted to be a part of the big event, but the club cancelled the celebrations and will now look to a new date when the crisis is over.
The club, which started off as Queen Street Youth Club in the early 60s, went on to become one of the most successful clubs in North Staffordshire, winning numerous titles and cups.
And one man who probably knows more about the football club than most is Arthur Jackson who, along with Clive Russell and Roger Farr, were there from the very beginning and the three original founders are still on the club’s committee taking an active part in the club’s affairs.
Jackson became player-chairman of the Queen Street Youth Club team which was based in Fenton and played at Fenton Park. The club became Manor Park in 1969, taking the name from the area of Fenton Manor before changing to Redgate United in 1981 after being sponsored by the Redgate pub in Dresden where the club was based.
However, in 1987 they moved to their current site at Northwood Lane in Clayton after that became vacant following Parkway Clayton’s merger with Newcastle Town.
As part of the agreement with Newcastle Borough Council when they took over the lease, their name changed again, this time to Redgate Clayton.
Jackson explained: “Part of the agreement of us moving to our present site was that we had to include the name Clayton. So we became known as Redgate Clayton.
“In our early days playing as Queen Street Youth Club, we were in the Longton League and then the North Staffs Alliance League. We played at Fenton Park, then shared the facilities with Foley FC when they played in Longton and we also played at St Joseph’s College, which is close to Stoke City’s Clayton Wood training ground.
“When the site at Clayton became available, we moved in there and became known as Redgate Clayton,” said Jackson who recalls numerous successes in all of the leagues the club has played in under their several names.
“We were a very successful side, even during our early years. The 70s and 80s was a very good time for us and I remember especially our Walsall Senior Cup victory when we beat Chasetown 1-0 at Stafford Rangers’ Marston Road ground. When I think back to that time, I don’t think we realised just how good we were. We were certainly the team to beat,” said Jackson who looks back on his time at the club with fond memories.
“We’ve had a lot of good times, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Clive, Roger and myself have been in it since day one and it’s perhaps unusual that the three of us have been together for so long at one club – and still going,” added Jackson who says he will look forward to everyone getting together some time in the not-too-distant future.
“It’s a shame we had to cancel the event, we had about 300 attending, but it’s important we all focus on getting through this current crisis and hopefully we all come through it and are able to celebrate those 50 years soon.”
Treasurer Paul Smith, who has been with the club for the best part of 10 years, says it’s exciting times ahead for the club both on and off the pitch now they have taken over the running of the Community Centre, which sits next to the changing rooms, from Newcastle Borough Council, and once everything gets back to normal the plan is to maximise its use.
“The Community Centre has stood empty for quite some time now,” said Smith. It just wasn’t being used, so we spoke to the Borough Council and agreed we could take over the running of the centre.
“The club has managed to secure funding from the National Lottery to help us to bring it up to date a little more and once we can all get back out and doing what we were doing before this virus struck, then we will start to advertise the facility. It can be used for parties, birthdays, weddings etc and will help to provide a community facility as well as generate some money for the club,” said Smith.
There also plans to redevelop the changing facilities.
Smith explained: “We have also managed to secure some funding from the FA to develop our changing rooms. They are a little outdated and we also have to provide female changing facilities, so it’s making changes here and there to set the club up for the next 50 years. There are exciting times ahead for the club, but unfortunately for the time being everything is on hold,” added Smith.
Over the years, the club has enjoyed a lot of success and during one period in the early 90s, completed a hat-trick of league titles.
“We were regarded as the top team in the area at one time, and although there has not been a lot of success on the pitch in recent seasons, we are still doing well in the Staffs County Senior League.”
The club has grown somewhat since those early days and now there are eight teams playing out of their Northwood Lane complex, with ages ranging from six to seniors.
“We have the first and second teams playing in the Staffs County Senior League and a Sunday team playing in the Coors League. So, along with our junior teams, we have a lot of people playing football over the course of a weekend. It’s really good to see and the good thing is, we have some very good young lads coming through the system” said Smith.
The first team, under manager Dan Dawson, was sitting fourth in the SCSL Premier Division when all football was suspended due to the virus.