Hexham and District Sunday League’s oldest clubs has been forced to fold due to a lack of players.

Long-established side Hexham Hearts will not compete next season after the team failed to find enough players to compete in the upcoming campaign.

The club warned that it was in danger of folding in February, when the league extended the deadline for signings until the end of the month to try and keep the club going.

Sadly, too few players answered the call, bringing the curtain down on an historic club once labelled the pride of Hexham.

Hearts player-manager Ryan Morris said that a change in circumstances for himself and club official Stu Simpson meant the club had to fold.

He said: “I’ve started a new job which has shifts, so I won’t be able to give my time up on weekends.

“If there wasn’t such a struggle for players, it might have kept going.

“I tried my best to get players in, but there’s that many teams with that many players it was just impossible. There just wasn’t anyone to keep it going.

“The virus didn’t help, but even last season it was a massive struggle. I was having to knock on people’s doors and get them up to play.

“We had 12 or 13 lads for next season, but not all of them would be able to play every week.”

The Sunday League side was an extension to Hexham Hearts' Saturday team which had a great reputation in the North-East in years gone by.

Arguably the club’s finest hour came in 1949, when Hearts turned out at St James’ Park in the Northumberland Senior Cup final.

Hexham defied the odds to defeat Blyth Spartans 3-0, courtesy of a Stevie Howdon hat-trick.

It followed an ambitious post-war period for the club, when they won the Ryton and West Tyne League and moved their home ground from the Sele to Tyne Mills, where they remain to this day.

Hearts moved into the Northern Alliance League, taking on some of the North-East’s top amateur teams, including Morpeth Town, Alnwick Town, and Newcastle United’s third team.

Hexham Hearts enjoyed a near-invincible season during 1946-47, and competed in the FA Cup between 1948 and 1956, reaching the fourth qualifying round in 1954. Among their achievements, Hexham won the Northern Alliance League Cup, and also the Aged Minors’ Homes Cup.

Hearts also had a great relationship with Newcastle United - legendary number nine Jackie Milburn attended a match at Tyne Mills to watch Hexham take on United’s third team, with Ted Roblido, the brother of United’s Chilian centre forward George Roblido, turning out at Hexham for Newcastle III.

In 2015, the team's Sunday league side took on a Division Two representative squad, due to their status as the league’s longest established team.

However, times had changed - the weeks leading up to lockdown were characterised by heavy defeats in the second division.

Generations of Hexham folk have had a connection with the club in one way or another, and its passing will no doubt be felt across the Tyne Valley.

Ryan continued: “It’s really sad. We’re pretty gutted but it is what it is.

“It’s a real shame. I tried and tried but there’s only so much you can do.”