RON THOMPSON appears today because he was one of the greatest amateur footballers to appear in County Durham, and it was a crime that he was never capped by England. Here is Ron's incredible record:

1. Scored for Crook Town against Bishop Auckland in the 1954 Amateur Cup Final at Wembley, in front of 100,000 spectators.

2. Is still the all-time record goalscorer at Crook Town with 117 goals from 174 appearances, an average of 0.67 goals per game.

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3. Scored a hat-trick in an FA Cup tie for Stanley United, who beat Wingate Welfare away from home 2-11. The only time since the War that an Amateur team from County Durham hit 11 goals away from home in the FA Cup.

4. Played for Bishop Auckland when they beat Football League Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup Round 1 in 1956. Only the third occasion when the 'Two Blues' beat professional opposition in the competition.

5. Scored twice in the game when Crook beat Hitchin Town 10-0 in the Amateur Cup 4th Round. The only time a team scored 10 goals in the 4th Round of the Amateur Cup and probably the only time that every player on a forward line scored twice in an English Cup competition.

6. Scored twice for Crook Town when they beat Bishop Auckland 6-0 at Feethams,Darlington in 1955 to win the Durham Challenge Cup.

7. Scored twice for Crook Town when they beat Evenwood 5-3 at Shildon in the Final of the Durham Benovelent Bowl in 1955.

8. Was top goalscorer for Crook Town in two successive seasons with 32 goals in the 1952-53 season and 39 goals the following season,1953-54. Was also second top goalscorer at Crook in 1954-55 and 1955-56 with 21 goals and 19 goals respectively.

Ron was born on August 20, 1932 and after Junior School attended Bishop Auckland Grammar School. Apart from playing football and cricket Ron was also a fine athlete and won the Bishop Auckland Grammar School Senior Boys 1 Mile event in, what Judith his daughter says, was a record time. After School he did his National Service before attending Bede College in Durham where he trained to be a teacher. While he was travelling to and from Durham he met his future wife Betty who was a nurse in Durham and they married on August 4, 1956. Ron went on to teach at Hunwick Senior School, the Alderman Cape School in Crook and finally Parkside in Willington.

His first Northern League club was Bishop Auckland where he appears not to have been a success so he joined Crook Town for the 1952-53 season. He scored his first goal for Crook on August 23rd 1952 in a 1-5 away win at Stanley United and his last goals probably in the 1958-59 season. In between he returned to Bishop for the 1956-57 season as Hardisty and Lewin were at the Olympic Games before a season at Stanley United, 1957-58. He returned to Crook for the 1958-59 season, while in the Summer he would open the batting for Hunwick CC or North Bitchburn CC.

Judith, his daughter, recalls: "Ron was a perfectionist and if anything had to be done it had to be done to perfection."

Jimmy McMillan, Crook Town FC's greatest player, said the same: "Ron was a perfectionist and I'm afraid he did not suffer fools gladly. When he passed the ball it was always along the ground and aimed at a team-mate, he never just kicked it anywhere."

Ron's wife, Betty, said: " He was never a smoker and not really a drinker, but when he retired golf took over his life. I used to say to him that the golf club was his second home. I do though remember him once studying for an Open University degree while he was still teaching, so that he could teach science as well as PE, and also going to Bishop Auckland College to study art later in life."

Judith adds: "Dad was a good golfer and played off a low handicap. I think he was champion once at Bishop Auckland Golf Club. I still have a lot of his golfing trophies while his artwork was impressive and I still admire his drawings and paintings."

Ron, who was also a Full Badge FA Coach, died suddenly on holiday on April 11, 1985, aged just 52. It was the day County Durham lost a fine man, a great sportsman and a real ambassador for the area.

Many thanks to Michael and Judith Willis, as well as Betty Thompson for help with this article.