Stephen Capper Interview

The Spirit of the North interviews ‘Moors Stephen Capper


Dublin-born Stephen Capper is having some career in the north-east’s non-league, collecting an average of something like five trophies a season as he turns out for Spennymoor Town (Northern League Champions) and Hetton Lyons (FA Sunday Cup winners) on a regular basis.

The vastly experienced 27 year old defender/midfielder arrived in the region as a youngster and joined the Sunderland AFC Academy with his team-mate and fellow Dubliner, Keith Graydon. Both Capps’ and Rasher’s careers have coincided since childhood with the subject of this interview having gone on to play for Scarborough and Durham City before joining Spennymoor Town in the summer of 2009.

His personal roll of honour currently stands at some 22 trophies having won five consecutive league titles (2008 and 2009 with Durham; 2010, 2011 and 2012 with Spennymoor), two Cleator Cups (2008 and 2012), one Durham County Challenge Cup and one Unibond Chairman’s Cup on a Saturday. Then you have three FA Sunday Cups (2008, 2012 and 2012), four Durham & District Sunday Premier League titles (2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012), two Durham & District Sunday League Cups, three knockout cups and one Alan Smith Memorial Cups with the famous Hetton Lyons CCFC. Capps still has time to add a Northern League Challenge Cup to his honours list this season as well.

Here, Capps agreed to a brief, but in depth interview with The Spirit of the North editor, Peter Mann, and discusses life at the ‘Moors, the Lyons, and an increasing impressive trophy haul.


Peter Mann - Probably the most unlikely of successful seasons for both Spennymoor Town and Hetton Lyons and yet so far four trophies collected. How has this success been achieved?

Stephen Capper - Indeed, this season has been extremely successful considering where we stood 10-12 games ago for Spennymoor, but the management and players never once lost belief in our ability to win matches and play football correctly. In fact, I feel that when so many people wrote us off, it just inspired the team to work that little bit harder to achieve our aims. With Spennymoor having won the Northern league the last two seasons, it becomes harder every year to sustain that level of performance especially in such a strong league which is clearly evidenced by having Dunston and West Auckland in the Vase final and Whitley Bays heroics over the past three seasons but the chairman, management and players make sure we never stand still or admire our achievements and we quickly move on to our next challenge. This season however, has been exceptional with regards to winning the Cleator Cup, Durham Challenge Cup and League title for third consecutive season and still in the hunt for the League Cup. We have a core group of players who have been together for a long time now and who have consistently performed year in year out and we were able to utilise our experience coming into the run in which has paid dividends.

With regards to Hetton Lyons, well what can I say, it has been a more than productive season considering the re-structuring of the management and playing squad. I think we have welcomed 14 new players with the majority of them being young lads as well, but I have to admit they have brought a new sense of enthusiasm to the team which has re-energised everyone involved. I feel the management have to take the majority of the credit in Stu Gooden, Glen McCartney and Alan Pearson, they have been superb and have given the new lads a great sense of belief especially considering how many established players we had lost from last season with opposing teams believing that we would not be able to attain the standards of previous Hetton teams but as the results have shown, we have probably exceeded a lot of people’s expectations with winning the League title and the FA Sunday Cup.


PM - You have won five consecutive championships (four in the Northern League and one Unibond North). Where does the most recent one out of the five and why? 

SC - I feel it’s tough to specifically identify why one would be better than the other as I have thoroughly enjoyed winning every single one. Winning the league at a canter with record number of points for Durham, then breaking our own record with Spennymoor twice, winning the Unibond with Durham on the last day when we were 3-1 down at half time to win 4-3, however, I feel this year’s win and the manner in which we retained our league title for the third consecutive time pips the rest. People had wrote us off after losing to Jarrow away and we took quite a bit of stick from external and internal sources which was well deserved I will add, but the measure of the squad we have was to bounce back and put an outstanding run together which no team has been able to match. There was a lot of talk from various sources but talk is cheap as they say and we kept our mouths shut and done the business on the park and just kept applying pressure to the teams at the top which has proved to be too much for them to withstand and winning it at home in front of our own fans in the very last game against an outstanding team like Dunston who were very gracious and complementary in defeat was an amazing end to a very exciting league campaign.


PM - Hetton Lyons is one of the most successful sides in modern history, both regional and national. How is it playing for such a successful side?

SC - It is an absolute pleasure to be playing for Hetton Lyons. It’s not just the fact that the club is and has been extremely successful but it’s the people who are involved within the club who are the heart and soul of the club who make the club what it is today. I would be here all day if I had to mention all the people who are integral to the running of the club but suffice to say...the club would fail to exist without the dedication of these individuals. I have enjoyed every minute playing for the club and I have been lucky to have played a small part in their recent success over the last 5 years and I am positive the current management will be emphasising the continued success of the club over the coming seasons.


PM - What prompted your leaving such a successful Durham City and drop back into the Northern League with Spennymoor Town?

SC - Well it was a multitude of reasons really. Firstly, I thoroughly enjoyed my two seasons at Durham which were very successful and the management and players were a joy to work with, however, I had just finished my Podiatric Medicine degree and was just about to start my Masters degree which would eventually be followed by my Doctorate which was going to require even more time and at quite awkward hours as well. Add this to the fact that we had just been promoted to the Unibond Premier which was going to require more commitment regarding travelling, time off etc. The fact that the majority of our players were in similar dilemmas regarding work and family duties meant that we lost a lot of good players and friends back to the Northern league to Spennymoor. Once I had made the decision to leave Durham, I had no hesitation in signing for Spennymoor as I knew the vast majority of the players and management so it was quite a seamless transition if the truth be told.


PM - You scored in the recent FA Sunday Cup final against Canada FC with Hetton winning 5-1 at the Stadium of Light. How was the day, scoring your goal and the final result?

SC - Firstly, the result was the most important aspect of the day and thankfully we were deserving winners on the day. The day itself was brilliant, obviously having played there quite a few times previously from my time at Sunderland definitely helped me and a few of the other lads but the preparation of the staff was impeccable and no stone was left unturned. Meticulous planning went into every little detail to make the players stress free with only the game to think about. The team behind the scenes prepared everything in the dressing room prior to our arrival which was extremely professional as always. The management were very calm and collected and emphasised the importance of taking the day and game in and to enjoy ourselves. Also, the staff and organisation at the Stadium of Light was outstanding and I feel they conducted themselves very well and were a credit to the north east. On to the game itself, well we enjoyed a perfect start with two early goals which knocked Canada back if the truth be told. We knew it was Canada’s first ever appearance in the final so we made a conscious effort to start quickly and put them under sustained pressure which fortunately for us they were unable to handle. Obviously scoring was very pleasing as I should probably score more goals than I do but to do it in a game of that importance was certainly very pleasing. The scenes after the game were brilliant and we celebrated long into the night which probably wasn’t the best preparation for our title decider against Dunston on the Monday night but nothing was going to stop us celebrating such a terrific performance and result.


PM - You’ve collected an impressive 22 trophies in five years for Durham City, Spennymoor Town and Hetton Lyons. Anything to say on such a trophy-laden run that includes FIVE consecutive league titles? What is the secret to your embellishing success?

SC - Well I didn’t know how many trophies I had collected until now. I did know that Lewis Dodds and I have now won 5 consecutive league titles but I would never really keep count to be honest. The majority of the players I play with at Spennymoor and Hetton would have similar totals I would imagine. With regards to secret of success, well, there isn’t one to be honest, as an individual player you play within the parameters of the team and every player within the squads I have played with have contributed to our success over the years. I have played against teams who have had very good individual players but have not had the same team spirit as our team and when you combine that with the quality of player I have been fortunate to play alongside then I suppose that gives you an idea as to why we have amassed quite a large haul of trophies. I suppose the biggest compliment I could pass on to the teams I have been fortunate to play in is that every year we have faced new and exciting challenges from various teams, Whitley Bay, Dunston, Bedlington, Consett, Shildon, Ashington and this season Sunderland RCA and West Auckland, but as the results have shown with winning our third consecutive title for Spennymoor and various cups, we have constantly risen to the challenge and fended off opposing teams and raised the bar every year but once pre-season comes around again, all the previous seasons exploits are quickly forgotten and you have to prepare for an even tougher challenge.