United cast a shadow

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As Newcastle United wonder how to satisfy a lengthening queue for season tickets and Sunderland prepare to move to a stadium more in keeping with their Premiership status, there is plenty of evidence of a football boom in the North-east.

Talk of such things in the bar at Consett's Bellevue Park, however, tends to be greeted with somewhat muted enthusiasm.

St James' Park is only 12 miles from Consett and the wealth being generated around Kevin Keegan's team has reversed the Northern League club's financial fortunes. So Consett reaching the first round proper of the FA Cup for the first time since 1958 could not have come at a more opportune time.

"We used to get gates of around 400 or 500 when we were in the Second Division," Ian Hamilton, the Consett secretary, lamented. "We are in the First Division now, but since Newcastle got into the Premiership we struggle to get 200.

"If there is a live match on television it can be down to 40 in midweek. At the beginning of this season we were seriously wondering whether we could afford to carry on. It is just fortunate that the Cup run has helped us to pay off a few bills."

Win or lose at Mansfield, Consett will earn desperately needed cash. A money-spinning home tie in the second round would be cause for a real celebration, especially if it persuaded KP Crisps - who manufacture their Phileas Fogg snacks in Consett - to fill the vacant sponsorship space on their shirts.