DANNY McCourt is fast approaching 80, and it is fast approaching 55 years since he joined Crook Town in the middle of the 1962-63 season.

Danny went on to win an FA Amateur Cup winners medal with the Black and Ambers at Wembley in April 1964 and to mark the milestone Danny's daughter Jude, once of Cafe Sport with Roger Tames, now an ambassador with the Postcode Lottery, organised a Re-union party at her Darlington home.

The guests included Danny and his wife Marjorie, his son Brian who also played for Crook Jude with Tom Park, Danny's 1964 team-mates Ray Snowball and John Weir along with Bob Thursby a team-mate in 1964-65. The Town's greatest player, Jimmy McMillan, rang from Kibblesworth to speak to everyone. Members of the Durham Amateur Football Trust attended but Illness and holidays put paid to former players Allan Brown and Bill Roughley while we have lost contact with Matty Lumsdon. The rest of the 1964 Cup winning team are unfortunately not with us anymore.

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Danny arrived at the Millfield after Crook had won the FA Amateur Cup in April 1962. Later in the year, November 1962, they lost an FA Cup 1st Round thriller at Hull City 5-4. Crook were 1-3 ahead at half time, then a goal by John Cocking shortly after the restart put them 1-4 ahead and we all shouted "We want 5." We got 5 but unfortunately they were all at the wrong end of the ground.

More disappointment in the 3rd Round of the FA Amateur Cup with a 2-1 defeat at Hampshire League club Alton Town in March 1963 but Crook, with Danny now in the team, compensated for their Cup disappointments by winning the Northern League in the 1962-63 season.

More excitement in 1963-64, when Seamus O'Connell, the laid back, cattle dealer from Carlisle who scored for fun on and off the field, returned to the club. John Weir, a dazzling right winger from Evenwood also arrived to replace Don Sparks at number 7. Just off the bus Weir caused controversy in an FA Cup 4th qualifying round at Stanley United. Crook won 0-2 with Weir and Coates the goalscorers but Stanley protested that Weir was still an Evenwood player, which he was at the time, but there was a rule at the time which said that if an Amateur player intimated to the FA that he wanted to play for another club in the FA Cup he could do so. Weir and Crook had obeyed the rules so Crook were through.

The defence of Snowball, McCourt, Reid, Storey, Heatherington, Brown, began to appear regularly, but a shock incurred In November 1963 when Chesterfield arrived at the Millfield for an FA Cup 1st Round tie. Crook decided to drop O'Connell, and replace him with John Cocking. Nothing wrong with John, but O'Connell, even with his thicker waistline, and laid back approach, was a different class. Crook lost 1-2, a 25 yard 'bullet' from Weir the only thing we had to shout about. A fortnight later John Heatherington suffered a serious knee injury so Peter Garbutt moved from inside right to centre half. After being average at inside forward Peter shone as a centre half, and later captained Carlisle from that position.

In the Amateur Cup John Weir again got the ball rolling with a sixth minute strike against Stanley United in the 1st Round at the Millfield. "A left footer, " John informed us, Wilkinson equalised, so on a freezing cold Saturday we marched to Stanley hilltop for the replay. O'Connell, all class and genius, hit 3, Weir and Lumsdon the other scorers in a 1-5 win, a great result, we were on our way.

Crook were never drawn at home again in the Amateur Cup, travelling to Hayes, West Auckland and Walthamstow in Rounds 2, 3 and 4, drawing all three and winning the replays. O'Connell left after Round 3, "He either asked for more money or fell out with coach George Wardle," said Jimmy Mac, Crook still reached the Twin Towers for a fourth time on Saturday April 18th 1964. By that time, Bobby Veart, Jeff Sowerby, Derek Gardener and Derek Dowson had all worn the number 9 shirt with Derek Dowson, number 9 for the quarter-final and semi-final, most unlucky not to play at Wembley after 2 goals against Walthamstow in the quarter-final replay. Derek Gardener was number 9 in the Wembley programme but Matty Lumsdon wore the shirt.

Crook beat Enfield 2-1 but Enfield were without their Amateur International centre forward Tommy Lawrence and full back Pat Terry both injured. They also lost their keeper Mitchell with a broken wrist early in the game yet still led 1-0 at half time. In the second period the defence and Danny, who only missed one game in the Cup run, stood firm while Allan Brown crossed for Goodfellow to equalise and then Allan hit the winner himself after a great dribble and run down the right by Bill Roughley. We all watched it again as Dale Daniel had skilfully prepared a dvd with highlights of the match for us. Ray Snowball quipped "I can't remember making a save against Enfield," but the film started with him flinging himself backwards to tip the ball over the bar and ended with him saving from the Enfield forwards as they fought to save the game.

Very best wishes to Danny and Marjorie, special thanks to Jude and Tom Park for their hospitality, to Brian McCourt for the photos, Dale Daniel for the dvd, and everyone else for a great afternoon.