For many years, the Bluestone Ground Club competed behind the County Hall in a variety of leagues, including the Allertonshire, Vale Mowbry, Ripon, District, Teesside, North Yorkshire, and the District and District of Darlington. Northallerton is also known as Northallerton Alliance and Northallerton Town. Several trophies have been won during that time period, including the Harrogate and Districts League Championship, the Richmond Cup, the Bedale Cup, the Milbank Cup, the Orde-Povlett Cup, the Dales Cup, the Harrogate Invitation Cup, and the Alverton Trophy. When North Yorkshire County Council issued an immediate purchase order to expand County Hall in 1974, this club was compelled to vacate the Bluestone Ground (the extensions never took place and the Bluestone Ground still remains a football ground). The club relocated to Ainderby Road (renamed Calvert Stadium in 1997) on 21 August 1976, which opened with the official opening of two pitches, a clubhouse, changing rooms, and a car park.
Northallerton remained in the Harrogate and District League until the end of the 1981-82 season, when he was accepted into the Northern League’s Second Division upon its formation in 1982, led by Chairman Stan Kirkbride and Manager Neil Milestone. Regrettably, Mr. Kirkbride died during that inaugural Northern League football season and was replaced by Vice-Chairman Ron Longstaff.
A significant step was joining the North League, as the Ainderby Road Group’s standards were upgraded to Northern League standards by nearly £150,000. Ryhope won 4-1 in the Northern League’s inaugural game on August 28, 1982. One week later, when Ryhope came to Ainderby Road for the first time in the Northern League, Town avenged themselves with a 2-0 home victory. The club struggled in the early years of the Northern League, finishing in the bottom half of the table. Unfortunately, they lost 2-1 to York Railway Institute in the 1983-84 North Riding County Cup final.
Ray Hankin’s appointment as Manager in March 1989 resulted in the Club’s fortunes improving significantly as a former Burnley, Leeds United, and Middlesbrough player. He used the remainder of the 1988-89 season games to conduct a team review and take stock. Following a second-place finish behind champion Murton in the second division, Hankin led the team to promotion to the first division the following season (1989-1990). The club strengthened its position in Division One during the 1990-91 season, but Ray Hankin retired and was replaced as manager at the end of the season. Both the FA Trophy and the FA Cup have been extremely successful under Cane, with the FA Trophy reaching the finals in 1992-93 before moving to Farnborough in the Vauxhall Conference and the FA Cup reaching the fourth qualifying round in the same season before succumbing to Stanley.
While Cane was in charge, a new stand with 150 seats was constructed, as well as covered terracing for an additional 400 spectators. The open ends behind both goals were also encased, to the envy of many. The club will always be indebted to Geoff for the work that could not have been accomplished without him.
Regrettably, disagreements at the end of the 1992-1993 season resulted in Geoff Cane’s departure. Regrettably, Geoff died in 1995 at the age of 46.
City was now a dominant force and had won the 1993-94 League Challenge Cup by defeating Blyth Spartans 2-0 in the Brandon Final, but it was to be the club’s final game. In the summer of 1994, the club faced disaster when the High Court declared them financially insolvent and ordered their closure. There is little doubt that if that had occurred during the play season, this would have folded. Fortunately, there was still time before the start of the new season for a local businessman to come and rescue the club, despite vandals, slogans on the stands walls, and clubhouse windows. The club was formed, and the 1994-95 season was launched under the new name Northallerton FC 1994.
Durham won the cup on sanctions after a 1-1 draw in extra time in the Northern League First Division. The game was opened by Northallerton, League Cup winners against Durham City and Ligue Champions in the annual Cleator Cup. Due to a lack of funds to reimburse players, a large number of players were recruited from local football leagues. Despite their best efforts, the other league sides were no match for them, and it was unsurprising that they were relegated at the end of the 1994-95 season.
The club gradually regained its footing during the 1995/96 season, and following a disastrous start, the committee decided to reimburse a number of players, and many of the club’s former players returned to a respectable 5th place. The club was given the opportunity in the summer of 1996 to revert to its original name of Northallerton Town Football Club (1994), and they were promoted to the 1st Division by winning the 2nd Division Championship, under the joint management of Mickey Sell and John Woods. Sell and Woods both left the club at the end of the 1996-97 season for personal reasons, though Woods remained as Assistant Manager and Sell as an occasional player.
After a poor start in the First Division (three points in the first 12 games), the team appointed Archie Stephens as manager, a former Bristol Rovers, Middlesbrough, Carlisle United, and Darlington player. However, the team failed to improve and were relegated to the Second Division after finishing second. Stephens and assistant manager John Woods both left the club by mutual consent at the end of the season.
Peter Mulcaster was appointed manager at the start of the 1998-99 season; in his first season, he guided the club to a commendable fourth place in the league, but in February 1999, he shocked the club by resigning, taking the vacant manager position at Spennymoor Uni, one of his preferred places in promotion. Hodgson and his assistant Peter Bell left the club at the end of the 2000-2001 season after failing to win promotion during their initial attempt. He was succeeded by Micky Hodgson, a seasoned former boss. At the start of the 2001-2002 season, Peter Mulcaster returned to the club as team manager for a second stint. However, following two seasons in charge and failing to promote the team, it was agreed that the club would close at the end of the 2002-03 season.
Paul Burton, a former captain of Whitby Town, has been appointed Team Manager. Paul had been the manager of Teesside League club Nunthorpe Athletic for five seasons, during which time the club never finished outside the league’s top two, winning numerous cups and trophies. He was accompanied by several members of Nunthorpe’s successful team.
The club has had numerous loyal servants over the last few years, but Vice President Les Hood, who has been with the club since before the club’s Northern League days, deserves special mention. For over two decades, he has served as President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and on the Executive Committee. His selfless efforts were recognized with the Northern League’s Unsung Hero Award, which he richly deserved and was proud to accept at the conclusion of the 2000-2001 season.
Other long-serving officials include current Secretary/Treasurer Ken Lomer, who has served for 17 years, and 21-year-old news officer Ian Bolland, who is still active as the club’s groundsman but is not a member of the management Committee at the moment. Ralph Alderson, a former player with a club in the 1950s and 1960s, is in his sixth year as Chairman.