Note: This weekly series will look for teams outside of the top flights of European football to find true underdog stories of clubs well below the radar. Clubs will be featured based on performance in the various tournaments that happen concurrently with the league seasons, or even strong runs in some of the leagues that dot the European football landscape. Chances are, these clubs will be years away from finding a home at the top flights of football – if they are ever able to get there – but it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve attention from time to time. If you happen upon a team that you think might qualify, feel free to drop me a line on Twitter @GuruEbby or @SportMuseNet!
Nickname: The Fed
Founded: 1975 (as Whickham Sports)
Location: Gateshead, England
Team Colors: Royal Blue and White
Ground: Wellington Road
Capacity: 2,500 (150 seated)
Current League: Northern League Division One (Tier 9)
Reason For Notice
Like a lot of other clubs profiled in this space, Dunston UTS is receiving notice for their performance in the FA Cup Third Qualifying Round this past weekend. The Fed was the only club from below Tier 8 to qualify for the round, and they upset Tier 6 club Chester FC in a come from behind 4-3 victory powered by two goals Mark Fitzpatrick – he’s scored 6 goals in qualifying thus far – in front of nearly 900 fans at Wellington Road on October 6th.
The club started out as a “works team,” established by employees of HMSO as an amateur club, playing in various amateur leagues through the first 15 years or so of their existence. After a league title and League Cup double during the 1986-87 season, the club moved up to the Wearside League (Tier 11) for the following season. Success there over the next few seasons – two league titles, a runners-up, and another League Cup in four years – led to promotion to league play and an invite to the Northern League Division Two for the 1991-92 season.
They found success in their new league immediately, earning promotion to Division One the following season following another league title, and they have not been in Division One ever since, and their run includes back-to-back Division One titles in 2004 and 2005. They’ve also found success in the various non-league competitions, winning the FA Vase during the 2011-12 season, as well as the Northern League Cup six times, including last season.
They are currently in 7th place in league play after only playing seven matches having not lost a match (6W-1D-0L), the fewest in the league. They are currently five points behind the current leader Consett with the second largest goal differential (+15) in the league, and as they play more league matches over the course of the season, they should be able to close that gap and potentially qualify for promotion.
The Fed’s schedule for the rest of the month is loaded because of league play and their success in both the FA Cup qualifying and the FA Vase. Their next match is a FA Vase First Round Proper match on the road against Tier 10 club Billingham Town this Saturday. They return to league play next Tuesday against West Auckland Town, the club right behind them on the table, though West Auckland has played five more matches. Their next FA Cup qualifying match is at home against Tier 5 club Gateshead, the final round before the FA Cup begins “proper.” A win as extreme underdogs in that match would allow them to advance further in the FA Cup than they ever have before. Finally, they close out the month with another league match, this time at Guisborough Town.
Update on Last Week’s Club
Last week, I took a look at all the clubs previously written about in this series. Of particular interest, at least until we get further into the various league seasons or lower division Cup and Trophy competitions, was the performance of our two “small” clubs that are participating in the Champions League. Let’s just say it didn’t go nearly as well for both clubs as it did during Matchday 1.
Red Star Belgrade was able to walk away with a point in the group stage after that first match, but lost 6-1 to Paris Saint-Germain on Matchday 2. Red Star was already a pretty long shot to make it to the next round, but they were looking good for a possible third place finish in group and transfer to the Europa League. Unless something drastic changes – they have a road match against Liverpool on October 24th to look forward to for Matchday 3 – they will probably limp to a fourth place finish and have to hope for another SuperLiga championship to come back to the Champions League next year.
The BSC Young Boys, our plucky “small” club from Switzerland, hasn’t fared much better, with matching 3-0 losses in both Champions League matches thus far. A home match against Spanish side Valencia looms on October 23rd, and anything less than a win will probably eliminate them from even advancing on the Europa League as the third place club. Their goal differential (-6) is the largest in the tournament, but those two losses have been to the top two clubs in their group – Manchester United and Juventus – so a win against the relatively weaker Valencia would help their cause as they attempt to move into that third position. Having 0 points through three games probably dooms them hopes for return next year as well.
Until next time…
While we desire to keep our content free for our readers and free from ads, there are costs associated with this project. If you would like to help offset these costs we have partnered Amazon through these affiliate links US / UK / DE