Should first-team players be allowed to play in the Wearside League for the reserve teams?
The Wearside League is home to many teams in and around the North East – Sunderland West End, Jarrow FC and Hartlepool FC to name a few.
However, in recent seasons teams from higher divisions have implemented reserve teams to play.
Seaham Red Star, Darlington 1883 and South Shields all have a reserve team in the league, which was done so that the young players of the teams wouldn’t have to be loaned out to gain first team experience.
This decision to implement the youth teams was met with controversy by people involved in the Wearside League, as there is an argument that the quality of football would be in question.
The reserve teams in the league have been playing some first-team players from their higher divisions in certain games, which to some members of the teams in the Wearside League isn’t right.
Sunderland West End club captain David Keithley said: “We at West End like to promote youth and if the reserve teams are used in that way [to develop youth at the higher tier teams] then we haven’t got a problem.
“However, if members of the first team are ever brought in to play against Wearside League opposition for the sake of winning a big game then I don’t think it’s fair.”
South Shields Reserves currently sit in sixth place in the league ahead of most of the senior Wearside League teams, but some people feel this is because they are playing members of the first team.
Warren Byrne, 33, of South Shields has played 6 games for the first team and 5 for the reserve team this season, scoring 3 goals.
Byrne is most famous for scoring the goal that won the Budweiser ‘dream goal’ competition earlier this year, which earned the club £50,000 and a place for him on Sky Sports show Soccer AM. The goal was also analysed by former England internationals Jaime Redkanpp and Jamie Carragher.
Byrne said: “I have played for the reserve team this season because I was coming back from injury and to ease myself into the play. I think it is unfair to have first team players playing when they don’t need to.”