Redcar Borough

Ambitious beginnings

Something of a flash in the pan on the Redcar football scene, Redcar Borough’s life may have been confined to the early 1930s but they were determined to make a big impact. Members of the Teesside League, they somehow managed to convince Manchester United and Liverpool legend Fred Hopkin to take the reins as coach. Hopkin was in the North East after having finished his playing days at Darlington, where he had started his career in 1912.

His connections to Liverpool, where he was a member of the ‘Untouchables’ side who won back-to-back League titles in the early 1920s, meant that several of his young stars at Redcar Borough were gaining the attention of the Merseyside outfit. John Deacon, a tricky outside left whose older brothers were already playing professionally, had a successful trial at Liverpool and was signed to a professional contract when he was still a teenager, going on to join his brother Dickie at West Ham.


The exodus was disastrous for Redcar Borough. They began the 1934/35 season, only their second campaign, with so few players that they weren’t able to arrange any pre-season friendlies. They went into their opening game, a local derby against Redcar Works, with only 10 men available and were subsequently thrashed 8-0. It would get even worse. Their next game, away to Middlesbrough club Clulow’s, saw only five Redcar players turn up, with one of them refusing to play. In order to keep the fans happy, they were forced to pick people out of the crowd to make up the numbers and play a friendly instead. A committee meeting was called a few days later and they made the decision to withdraw from the league and disband the club. “Thus ends dismally an attempt to run a senior football team in Redcar,” wrote the Cleveland Standard.

In an interview with the Cleveland Standard, Redcar Borough’s secretary claimed that “back-handers” from other clubs were to blame. He said that playing by the rules, as Redcar Borough did “was not a paying proposition”, and that players would go wherever they were being offered the most amount of cash. On top of this, he said that the town was shown no support whatsoever. “I do not think we have had any supporters,” he said. “Football is gone absolutely. I am afraid it is the end of senior football for this borough.”

Best laid plans

Although competing in the Teesside League for the two years they were in existence, Redcar Borough had their sights set higher. They made no secret of their intentions of bringing Northern League football back to the town for the first time in a decade, and made plans from the offset to make it a reality. Their kits bore the town crest, they secured a new ground five minutes walk from the train station and their team, initially, looked strong.

However, while they had all the best intentions, the reality of the situation could not be ignored. The costs of running a Northern League side, including fees and travel expenses, had been the downfall of the town’s previous Northern League side. Without an established fan base, history was doomed to repeat itself. They never made it to the promised land, and their place in Redcar’s footballing history is resigned to little over one season.


See also

Fred Hopkin

John Deacon

Redcar AFC