A RETIRED postmaster will launch the most comprehensive guide ever written about a team of County Durham miners winning football’s first World Cup tomorrow (May 7).
Martin Connolly has spent two years researching The Miner’s Triumph, a 135-page report of West Auckland’s remarkable performances in the 1909 and 1911 Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy tournaments.
Mr Connolly, who ran West Auckland’s Post Office, has even managed to find full match reports and pictures previously unseen in this country which were published in Italian newspapers at the time of the tournament.
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The book is being launched days before West Auckland Town head to Wembley for the FA vase Final against Hampshire-side Sholing.
He said: “It is a coincidence the book is coming out now, but it is appropriate that as we look forward to a cup final we can remember the team’s best triumph.”
Among the many stories and revelations made in the book is seemingly incontrovertible proof that puts to bed the urban myth about how West Auckland ended up being invited to the tournament.
It has long been claimed that the organisers of the tournament to be held in Turin meant to invite Woolwich Arsenal but sent the letter to the wrong WA team.
But Mr Connolly has found the invite itself which paints a very different picture.
He said: “Although the club that’s being invited is not named, there are details given, such as that they are a northern team and a list of some of their wins, which is an identical match for Bishop Auckland.”
Why West Auckland went instead of their neighbours is not known but Mr Connolly has a theory.
He said: “Bishop at the time were busy with their own tour of Belgium so it is possible, when they realised they could not go to Italy, they passed it on to their neighbours.”
Another story told in the book is that of the 1911 side’s goalkeeper John Warwick, who was the first soldier to be recommended for the Victoria Cross in the First World War.
Mr Connolly also tells the tale of 1909 squad member Jack Greenwell who went on to manage FC Barcelona and Peru.
The foreword for the book was written by former England footballer Dave Thomas, whose grandfather, Ticer Thomas, captained the 1909 side.
The Miner’s Triumph, which costs £5.99, will be launched at West Auckland Working Men’s Club at 6pm on Wednesday (May 7) where Mr Connolly will be signing copies.
The FA Vase final will kick-off at 3pm on Saturday (May 10), tickets cost £15 for adults and £5 for under 16s from ticketing.thefa.com.