Jones double saw Whitby Town edge five-goal thriller with Frickley in 1979

While recent years haven’t been the kindest to Whitby Town, in terms of the FA Cup, yesterday provides lessons of what you can achieve.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 5:00 pm
Whitby Town beat Frickley in 1979 in the FA Cup

The year of 1979 isn’t one that would ordinarily spring straight to mind for Blues supporters, despite it being the year of one of their finest FA Cup showings outside the proper rounds.

That season, the Seasiders’ FA Cup journey started away from home, when the Seasiders travelled to Lincolnshire side Normanby Park Works - a British Steel Works team from near Scunthorpe - in the Preliminary Qualifying Round, with the Seasiders running out 3-1 winners, thanks to a brace from Alan Jones and a Tony Escritt penalty.

This was followed up in the First Qualifying Round of the competition by two enthralling ties with Thackley.

In the initial game away from home, the Seasiders drew 2-2 - Derek Hampton and Jones getting themselves on the scoresheet to earn a Turnbull Ground.

On Upgang Lane, Whitby were on their A Game in front of their own supporters, running out 2-0 winners courtesy of another Hampton goal, while Escritt added the second of the game from the spot, much like he had in the previous round.

All eyes shifted onto the draw for the next round, with Steve Smelt, his players and the club’s supporters and officials intrigued as to who their next opponents would be.

The blood and thunder of the Yorkshire derby was the reward brought to the Turnbull Ground in the second qualifying round of the competition, with Northern Premier League side Frickley Athletic the visitors.

The Seasiders were at full strength for the visit of their West Yorkshire opponents, with player/assistant coach Michael Allen returning from injury.

New signing John Hickton – the former Middlesbrough striker – would miss out however.

Despite a bright start from the Seasiders, Brine having an early opportunity, the magnitude of the task soon became apparent, with their visitors moving the ball about well through the park.

Whitby’s defence, however, didn’t appear to be panicked, neatly working the ball away even when under pressure.

Frickley were managing to bring the best out of their hosts and found themselves in trouble when a defender almost put through his own net.

Derek Hampton would be the next to cause problems for the visitors, with his run stopped by a stray leg, though protestations for a penalty would be waved away by the referee.

Despite the pressure though, the Northern Premier League side would take the lead through Woodall, who finished off an impressive, well-constructed attack, though the Seasiders wouldn’t wait long for a leveller.

Hampton went close shortly after the deadlock was broken; however, it’d be Alan Jones who levelled matters after a long free-kick from Walker caught Frickley’s defence flat-footed, allowing Jones to head home into the roof of the net.

After a thrill-packed first half saw the sides go in level, the second period had a lot to live up to and didn’t disappoint one bit.

Early into the half, Whitby fans had cause to celebrate too.

A through-ball to Jones was a little long for the forward, however in attempting to get there he was brought down by goalkeeper Hinchliffe, leaving the referee no choice but to point to the spot.

Full-back Tony Escritt was the man to step up, and made no mistake from 12 yards firing the spot-kick home.

Finding themselves ahead sparked even more life into the Seasiders, and while they couldn’t afford to relax or rest on their laurels, their opponents were lacking composure going forward that they’d shown in the opening period.

The West Yorkshire side had strongly disputed the penalty to put Whitby ahead but were left speechless by the Seasiders’ third, when Jones fired the ball home from outside the penalty area.

There was still a bit too much time left on the clock for Whitby to be too complacent, and the stage was set for a grandstand finish when Frickley pulled a goal back in the later stages, making it 3-2.

The mettle of the Seasiders’ defence was tested across the dying stages, with Frickley throwing everything at the Blues.

The ball was coming in from all angles. Long balls, long throws, corners, free-kicks – you name it.

But Whitby were standing firm. This was to be their day, despite the amount of nail-biting going on around the Turnbull Ground.

Despite the onslaught, only one real incident of note would end up threatening the lead that Whitby had, with a goalmouth scramble eventually cleared away, before the full-time whistle could sound, setting up another home tie, and another Yorkshire derby, in the third qualifying round against Goole.

The win was the fourth scalp the Seasiders had claimed from the Northern Premier League since that league’s inception in 1968, with the Blues also previously beating local rivals Scarborough twice - 3-1 both times in the 1969/70 FA Cup fourth qualifying round and 1975/76 North Riding Senior Cup semi-finals respectively - and Great Harwood in the FA Trophy first round in 1977/78.

In terms of NPL teams, Whitby had also run Barrow close in the 1976/77 FA Cup, taking the Cumbrians to a Turnbull Ground replay - however selection problems would prove to be the Blues’ undoing as they fell to a 4-3 defeat.

The next step of the FA Cup would prove to be the end of the line that season, in terms of the Blues in the FA Cup. Goole – another Northern Premier League side at the time – would face another spirited Seasiders display, though appeared more defensively resolute.

Whitby would take the lead at the Turnbull Ground through Hampton, though Goole would be more effective going forward and found their way into a 2-1 lead.

The Blues managed to get the bit between their teeth but they could force nothing more than a replay, with Tony Muthana levelling matters late on.

And while Whitby again put up a fight away from home, they wouldn’t be able to force their way to the final qualifying stage, losing out 2-1 on the afternoon – Richie Walker scoring the Seasiders’ only goal of the afternoon, in front of the four-figure crowd at Goole.