January 2, 2015 by bluenosebible
By Oliver Osborn
With Birmingham City and Blyth Spartans having never played each other, those Bluenoses who don’t know too much about the Green Army can be forgiven. Here are ten interesting facts about the part-timers from the Northern Premier League Premier Division.
1) The Northumberland side were founded in 1899 by local man Fred Stoker, who became the club’s first secretary.
2) Stoker decided Blyth should have “Spartans” as part of the name after the Greek Spartan Army. He believed it would mean the players would be more likely to give their all in the “battle” on the football field.
3) Croft Park will be the venue for the third round clash and the stadium holds approximately 4,450 fans, 300 of those seated. The ground opened in 1909 and has been refurbished on several occasions, the last being in 2009.
4) The Green Army are in the seventh tier of English football and are currently in the bottom half of the league due to having a number of games in hand, caused by their run in the FA Cup.
5) Despite never playing above the sixth tier, this is the fourth time the Spartans have reached the third round of the FA Cup. The last time they appeared at this stage was in 2009 where they were defeated 1-0 at home to Premier League Blackburn Rovers.
6) Their most famous run in the competition was in the 1977/78 season when they reached the fifth round, beating Stoke City and Chesterfield along the way. The run ended after a replay defeat against Wrexham, a home game moved to St. James’ Park and watched by over 42,000 people.
7) With the club being part-time, the majority of the players have other jobs as well as playing football. The winning goal scorer in the previous round against Hartlepool United, Jarrett Rivers, works at his mother’s newsagents; a goal which put his face on the back of the shop’s newspapers the following morning!
8) Spartan’s Spanish striker Samuel Perez is the older brother of Newcastle United forward Ayoze Perez. The pair joined their respective clubs earlier in the season and when the Spartans aren’t in action, Samuel attends Newcastle matches to watch his younger sibling.
9) Former Blues loanee Dan Burn was born in Blyth and was a player for Blyth Spartans Juniors (a feeder club to the senior side) before joining Darlington in 2009.
10) One man that did play for the Green Army was Ali Dia. The former Senegalese footballer was made famous for tricking former Southampton boss Graeme Souness into believing he was George Weah’s cousin! The striker made one appearance for Blyth before joining Saints in 1996.