Arngrove Northern League Division One
17th February 2007
Darlington Road is the home of Northern League club West Auckland Town,a club which will remain forever immortalised, as they are renowned as the first ever winners of the ‘World Cup’.
Founded in 1893,they spent their pioneer years playing in local leagues around County Durham until their election into the Northern League for the first time in 1909.
Their famous ‘World Cup Campaign’ was made into a TV film by Tyne-Tees ‘A Captains Tail’ was narrated by Dennis Waterman(in a very dodgy County Durham accent)he played the part of team captain Bob Jones,who skippered his team mates and fellow coalminers to the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy in 1909.
The club returned to Turin two years later in 1911 and retained the trophy, which made them outright winners meaning the trophy was theirs for keeps,but the second trip lead to severe financial trouble and the club sadly disbanded in 1912,even the sale of their winning trophy wasn’t enough to save them.
The club were back in business two years later,but spent 20 years playing local league football until 1934,when they finally got their Northern League status back,re-elected into the league replacing Esh Winning.
West Auckland went on to become Northern League champion twice at the turn of the sixties,this was the best period in ‘West’ history as this coincided with their only appearance at Wembley, narrowly losing out to Walthamstow Avenue 2-1 in the 1961 FA Amateur Cup in front of a crowd of 45,000.
You enter the ground via a back lane with the main entrance along with the turnstiles in the corner of the ground,behind the goal is a small built up terrace which runs towards the café and the club house,the main stand has five rows of amber benches with black plate seats,sandwiched in between is a diminutive covered terraced stand,the other two sides are left open with the opposing side to the main area acts as a car park for club officials.
Obviously it goes without saying,the pitch has a slope,which seems to run down across and back around again,the pitch is surrounded by white walls which certainly brightens the place up a bit, apart from behind the goals which are painted amber,to evidently help the strikers find their target.
The match was entertaining to say the least,but not for events on the field more for the action off it with good banter between supporters and players,both referee and linesmen had a torrid time from players, fans and from both dugouts,(referees in the ANL must be the bravest of all)with the highlight being ‘The Fed’s’manager taking off his glasses and offering them to the linesman after a dodgy offside decision and Wests keeper(is he the oldest goalie in the world…probably) constantly arguing with everyone,which finally resulting in a booking after some unkind Rooneyesque words to the referee.
By and large a smashing day out in County Durham with a bit of groundhopping history for myself,as my 128th ground along with the old Wembley is now my second ground which is a home to winners of a world cup.
West report/ More match photos