Non-League football in the north-east was once a rich source of playing talent for the professional game, but many of its clubs are in crisis now. Harry Pearson reports

Shotton Colliery Recreation Ground on a damp Saturday in January. Shotton Comrades are taking on Ferryhill Athletic. Beyond the perimeter fence on one side of the pitch is a small airfield. Every fifteen minutes or so light planes take off to drop sky divers. During dull moments of play you can watch the parachutists spiralling slowly earthward.

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