NORTHERN Alliance football will return to South Tynedale next season for the first time in two decades.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Haltwhistle Crown Paints were a force in the Saturday league for amateur teams across the North-East, winning promotion to the Premier Division.

But the team, which was based at a ground next door to the town’s paintworks site, didn’t survive the closure of the factory, which was the town’s biggest employer, early in the Millennium.

Now a new era of footballers are preparing to bring the glory days back to the South Tyne Valley.

Sunday league serial winners Haltwhistle Jubilee made the switch to Saturday football two years ago, when they joined the Tyneside Amateur League.

Earlier this month, they completed a convincing league and cup double, and the ambitious club’s application to join Northern Alliance Division Two was granted this week.

“We’re over the moon, and very much looking forward to next season,” said manager Cameron Bell, who has led the side for just over a decade.

“Back then, we were known as Haltwhistle Conservatives, and we were up and down in the Sunday league.

“We improved the way we organised things off the field, got Alan Batey involved on the coaching side, attracted some players, and things have gone from there.”

Until last summer, the Jubes were forced to play their home matches away at Bardon Mill, because their facilities at the Burn Field did not meet league requirements.

Now they have a brand new changing facility and a resurfaced pitch, following a significant investment, with support from Northumberland County Council and Haltwhistle Town Council.

Cameron added: “Our first season back at the Burn has been great. It’s a first class facility now and its ready for Northern Alliance football.”

Haltwhistle’s news was acknowledged by Premier League professional referee Mark Clattenburg, who hails from County Durham.

Posting on social media, the official fondly recalled presiding over matches at Haltwhistle during the early part of his career.

Responding to the Jubilee’s post on Twitter, he said: “Congratulations. I always enjoyed refereeing at Haltwhistle next to the paint factory. Good luck next season.”