Winning silverware is always enjoyable, but doesn’t get much better than on this day back in 1989, when Consett clinched the 2nd Division championship with a club record 8-0 away win at Willington.
It was a stark contrast to the end of the previous season, when, after a few years of decline, the club was relegated for their first time in their history, signalling the end of former Newcastle United and Luton Town pro Gordon Hindson’s spell as manager.
The close season had seen a new man installed in the hotseat, local schoolteacher Colin Carr, and his reshaped side took the Skol Northern League’s 2nd Division by storm.
Their promotion challenge was built on the back of superb home form, which saw them go the whole season unbeaten in the league at Belle Vue Park.
A stuttering start – two 1-0 home wins and three consecutive away defeats – gave little indication of the season which was to follow, but Carr found the right blend of youth and experience to lead the rejuvenated Steelmen back to the top flight at the first time of asking.
His side only lost two more league games all season, and by the time this final away game rolled around, a Wednesday night trip to Hall Lane looked a bit of a given, as Willington were struggling at the foot of the table, and fighting to avoid having to apply for re-election – automatic relegation and promotion from the Northern League not being a thing in those days.
So it turned out, as Consett clinched not only promotion but the champinship with this crushing win, which, 31 years later, remains their biggest-ever away victory in the Northern League.
Local paper the Consett Guardian reported that Willington showed some neat moves in the opening minutes and Jim Simpson and Mick Jones looked to unsettle the Consett defence, but a well-marshalled rear-guard gave little away and looked comfortable.
Consett opened the scoring after 12 minutes when the home defence hesitated in their box as Ian Robb played in a dangerous high ball, and David Fox coolly swept the ball in to open the scoring.
The Steelmen took total control in the 35th minute when Willington defender Douglas, attempt to clear a cross from Gary Best, succeeded only in heading into his net for an own goal which made it 2-0.
Dave Dent in the Willington goal did well to keep out a good effort from Willard Wright after good work by Fox, but he could do little about Consett’s third goal just before half-time when Ian Candlish made sure as John Gray’s corner curled in.
Gary Best was on the mark with a header seven minutes after the interval when Gary Cowley had pumped the ball back in after Gray’s corner was only half cleared, and a defensive mistake from Willington let in Candlish for his second goal of the evening. A poor back-pass from Bennett was intercepted by the big man and he raced goalwards with Dent advancing and pushing him wide but he showed class to recover and slot home.
Candlish’s hat-trick came in the 67th minute when he powered a header home following a cross from Willard Wright, and eight minutes later Consett were awarded a penalty when Best’s shot was handled on the line and Candlish blasted home the spot-kick to make it seven.
With the game over as a contest, Consett gave a run-out to two subs, John Curran and Trevor Ward, and the home keeper was beaten again in the dying minutes as Gary Cowley made it 8-0, firing in at the second attempt after Dent parried his first effort.
A jubilant Colin Carr told The Journal afterwards: “We have gone up in style. Willington battled hard, but we were too strong for them.”
Consett would go on to win their last two games, both at home, to make it a whole season unbeaten at Belle Vue Park, and to finish nine points ahead of runners-up Alnwick Town. After just one season, the Steelmen were back where they belonged.
Consett: 1 Tony Morris, 2 Jeff Sugden (sub Trevor Ward), 3 John Gray (sub John Curran), 4 Jeff Wright, 5 Ian Robb, 6 Andy Edwards, 7 Gary Cowley, 8 Ian Candlish, 9 Gary Best , 10 David Fox, 11 Willard Wright.