It’s that time of the month again. Non-League time. This month I’m going to start with a couple of numbers for you . Both jaw dropping.

686 and 1,042!

Firstly, North Shields. After winning last week at home against Rugby, the Robins have made it through to the Quarter Finals of the FA Vase. They can almost smell the over-priced hot dog of Wembley. But to get there they have been handed a 686 mile round trip to play Sussex side Littlehampton in the last eight.

Last week on another gale force wind day, they eventually comfortably won 2-0 against Rugby but only after the visitors put a penalty wide at 1-0.

Despite the travelling, Shields remain favourites for the tie on the second Saturday in March. Good luck.

I remember following Ashington to a Vase tie to Bodmin in Cornwall one year and losing, so be warned it will feel like 6,000 miles if they don’t get through.

Next is Newcastle Blue Star and the 1,042.

Blue Star these days is a Northern Alliance Premier Division side and a couple of Friday’s ago they played Winlaton in Scotswood and incredibly pulled in 1,042 for a step 7 game.

The game ended 3-3 and to put this into context Gateshead managed just over this for a game 5 levels above. Just shows how that club are developing and how North East Non-League clubs are drawing in the crowds. They are not even top. That accolade goes to Killingworth who have won 19 out of 20 this season. Killy lead by three points but still have two games in hand on Blue Star. Things are looking rosy for both.

Winlaton, who played their part that night are fifth, Burradon fourth and Prudhoe Youth third.

At the top end of the North East scene, it remains rosy for Gateshead.

Saturday was a big day for them. Postponements elsewhere meant if they beat local rivals Spennymoor they would go three points clear and despite Moors playing well and missing loads of chances, they did just that.

Adam Campbell scored a second half winner after the Tynesiders went behind. It’s tight at the top with Brackley pushing Gateshead but watch out for Kidderminster, who, after running West Ham desperately close, have two games in hand. There’s going to be a few twists and turns yet.

Moors, despite the good performance are dropping like a stone. One win in ten has saw them drop to an unfamiliar 15th. However with games in hand they remain in the hunt for the last play-off spot which to be fair half of the league have their eyes on.

They exited the FA Trophy last week going down 3-1 at Dagenham, who are in the league above. They played well again but fell short and now they must pick up league points.

Darlington have had a poor run lately as well. Since winning 6-0 away in January, they lost 4 in a row, including 5-0 at bottom club Telford. However they beat Chester 2-1 a fortnight ago, before an away draw at Gloucester so they may have turned it around. They remain in that mid table pack in 13th.

Blyth Spartans’ latest game was called off last weekend but Terry Mitchell’s side maybe needed a break after losing four in a row and slipping down to fourth bottom again.

Blyth lost 3-0 to derby rivals Gateshead and York in that run and need to get back on track . They still have a six point gap to the bottom side with only one likely to go down.

In the Lowland League, Berwick Rangers have been among the goals. Eighteen in the last three to be precise. They scored 9 at whipping boys Vale Of Leithen, having put 11 past them at home before more notable successes against Stirling Uni (5-0) and Bo’ness United (4-1). Berwick are hitting form but it’s far too late to finish near the leaders but it’s going well on the banks of the Tweed.

Morpeth Town and South Shields faced off a few weeks ago in the Northern Premier League Premier Division and in a big two fingered salute to ‘Sewpa Kev’, Town won an all action game 1-0 at Craik Park. Hurrah!

A penalty decided it and Morpeth hung on in what is always a niggly game despite having two players sent off.

Morpeth had an even bigger game a few days later when they went to York City in the last sixteen of the Trophy. City’s new stadium is very impressive and so were the Highwaymen for 70 odd minutes going 2-0 up. However York came back to level and then score a winner in injury time to break Morpeth hearts again. They should be proud of that run and after losing only once in 18 games they should use the games in hand to get in the play offs.

Shields remain right in the mix for the title despite that defeat. Having won both of Phillips’  opening games , the Morpeth defeat knocked them off the top but sitting in third, two points behind Buxton with two games in hand , they look well set. It is however going to be very tight with second placed Matlock looking dangerous.

In the East Division it was derby day last Saturday as Dunston played Stockton and Shildon visited Hebburn.

Dunston ended Stockton’s eight game winning run with a vital 2-1 win which keeps them in the play-off hunt . Sunderland loanee Michael Fowler scoring again to win it.

Down at South Tyneside Hebburn’s frustrating season continued as Michael Sweet’s winner gave Shildon the points. Hebburn are in lower mid table despite pre-season favourite tags and its now Shildon who will look for promotion at the first attempt.

They all have to catch Marske though who went top with Liversidge’s game off. A 4-0 win a 22nd out of 26 this year for the Seasiders.

Down to step 5 and the Northern League Division One.

Consett continue to set the pace and it’s hard to see the Steelmen not finishing in the top two promotion places at this stage.

A banana skin game at Guisborough was negotiated with a 2-0 win. A 5th win in 6 after a shock Fa Vase exit.

Thornaby are having a great season though and a frenetic win over Consett a few weeks ago keeps them in touch. A subsequent loss to Crook maybe diluted that a bit but they stay in second six points behind.

The next five places are separated by five points with a return to form for Newton Aycliffe seeing them rise to third and a rock solid home record for Ryhope seeing their challenge continue.

North Shields remain in the hunt for the title . They may be fourth but have four games in hand on Consett. Can they juggle both competitions though? Not many do.

Ashington beat Bishop Auckland to stop the rot of two defeats including a 5-3 loss to Whickham despite being 3-2 up with fifteen minutes left. They remain too inconsistent to challenge and the same goes for West Auckland in seventh.

Bishops remain just above the drop zone and had to play in Ashington’s old kit on Saturday having FORGOT the strip. Now, call me a traditionalist but surely the strip has got to be high on the agenda, no?

Northallerton are rock bottom but Whitley Bay have stopped the rot after a terrible run. Newcastle Benfield are starting to motor and will bloody a few noses before May despite being in mid table and as mentioned Whickham have made the Glebe a fortress and they also will fear no one .

Anyone who reads this (no jokes at the back) will be used to me mentioning Heaton Stannington sweeping all before them in Division two.

This month I can report two defeats from three as they get Newcastle United style jitters at the top. Willington was a shock defeat before free scoring Boldon CA went to Grounsell Park and won. Boldon were helped by SIXTY goal striker Levi Collin’s two goals.

Stan is still the team to beat but if Ryton win two games in hand they will be 6 points behind. A big if though.

Billingham Synthonia are in the promotion mix but have had hands full surviving the last month after a backer pulled out. A TV, radio and social media appeal have kept the wolf from the door but its worrying times for one of the most famous teams to be ever named after a fertiliser. Good luck Synners.

Durham remain bottom but gained a point and a clean sheet lately against Easington who may rue that result at the top. If Durham do that in the next fixture at Heaton, now that would be result of the year.

That’s finally that then. As ever seek out any of these teams if you can, it WILL be worth it.

SCOTT ROBSON