ONE hundred years ago on Sunday, West Auckland Football Club won the first World Cup. The centenary is celebrated with a special supplement inside today’s paper.

Ninety-eight years ago next week, West returned to Turin, in Italy, and successfully defended their trophy by walloping the mighty Juventus 6-1. It is a great, great story.

Today, we hardly think twice about jumping into a car or bundling into a train or a plane, and travelling hundreds of miles.

Indeed, even in these dark days of recession, you can still fly from airports on your doorstep for a weekend break in Europe’s great capital cities at a cost of only a handful of pounds.

But 100 years ago, a weekend in Italy was an enormous adventure.

It is unlikely that many of the West Auckland players had ventured much beyond the borders of Durham and Yorkshire.

Certainly, those who had made it over the Channel before were in a very small minority.

The Continent – or “Continong”, as the Echo called it, in a reference to a recently-published popular satirical travel book entitled Mr Punch on the Continong, was a distant, exotic place. That is why, when war broke out in 1914, so many miners volunteered: Life in a fancy foreign trench had to be more exciting than life in a drab Durham pit.

During West’s 1911 tour, the Echo published two diary articles, telegrams home from abroad, which captured the wonderment of the overseas trip.

They were written by the club’s honorary secretary, Miles Coverdale Slater Barron. He was born in 1871 in Hedley Hill Terrace, in Waterhouses, a model pit village to the east of Durham City, built by the ubiquitous Pease family.

His father, John, was a colliery agent – a very important role because he was higher even than the colliery manager.

Miles became a clerk. In 1893, he married Mary Ann Bird and went to live in St Helen Auckland.

And that is all we know about Miles (unless you can help), except that he accompanied West on their inaugural 1909 tour, and went back in 1911, by which time he was an old hand at travelling on the Continong.

‘Gay Paree’ an eye opener for the West team

‘THE West Auckland Football Club party, left West on Wednesday morning last at 7.40, arrived at London at two o’clock, took the tube to Charing Cross, and caught the boat train with one minute to spare.

Owing to change of train service the party had to get out at Abbwilla (presumably Abbeville) “on the other side”, and wait an hour, during which time we had luncheon, eventually arriving at Paris at 11pm.

The whole journey was a pleasant one, the usual singsong way of football parties being the order en route.

Made a Soldier Run

After a wash and brush-up at the hotel in Paris, a stroll was taken round the boulevards which greatly surprised those who had not been on the Continent previously. Yes, without a doubt, “Gay Paree” is “an eye opener” for all Britishers on their first visit, the beautiful boulevards, squares, buildings, etc, at once taking their interest and curiosity.

After partaking of cafe au lait, the party wended their way hotel-wards.

When near home, it now, of course, being early in the morning, not many persons were about, one of the party had reason to ask if we were near the Boulevard Magenta, and seeing a soldier in uniform standing 20 yards away, he sprinted across to ask him for the direction of the hotel.

But as soon as Thomas Atkins a la Francais (Thomas Atkins had for 150 years been the nickname of ordinary British soldiers – hence “Tommies) saw our boy sprinting towards him he began to run off as fast as he could, and we had the most amusing spectacle of seeing one of France’s soldiers actually running away from a British civilian.

After spending the following day in a trip up the Seine as far as St Cloud, and sight-seeing, the party left Paris and en route had the pleasure of seeing Mont Blanc before reaching Lausanne, where another night was spent.

Proceeding to Turin we travelled through the Simplon tunnel, 12.5 miles long, the time taken being 19 minutes from end to end. It was practically like riding in a tunnel from Auckland to Darlington. During this journey we saw women as well as men ploughing and in other ways working on the land with oxen, and in one case a woman and donkey were pulling some implement.

During this journey the writer had to get a change of tickets at the Italian frontier, and this involved the services of an interpretor to explain to the stationmaster, who, with the greatest courtesy, kept the train waiting 15 minutes until fresh tickets were made out.

The writer had the amusing experience of writing out his own party’s railway tickets and giving a list of names of everyone to the official.

A World’s Beauty Spot

We next stopped at Stresa, the most beautiful place that we have ever seen, and by Englishmen here declared to be one of the most beautiful places in the world, if not actually the prettiest.

Italy claims to be “the garden of the world,” and such places as Stresa make one believe that it really is.

Lake Maggiore, the largest of all the lakes that lie at the foot of the Alps on the Italian side, is about 40 miles long and varies in width. Its depth in places is 1,200 feet and the glory of the lake culminates in the neighbourhood of Stresa, for there are the strangely beautiful Borromean Isles.

Originally the islands were nothing but bare rocks cut through in all directions by the constant lashing of waves. About the year 1670 Count Borromeo conceived the idea of converting this rock into a thing of beauty.

He therefore erected pilasters, arches, walls, and buttresses, and had earth brought from the mainland and laid down to form productive soil, tree planting, gardening, and building following, and from Stresa you have this beautiful view of lake, islands with the Alps, the upper parts covered with snow and the lower parts covered with vineyards and cottages, as a background.

At Turin we got to the real business of the tour. The following draw for the Lipton cup was made: West Auckland v Torino.

Switzerland v Juventus.

The writer had the honour of refereeing the first match, Switzerland v Italy, and a Swiss referee took the West Auckland v Torino match.

Il match venne arbitrato dal trainer della squadra inglese Barron, as the Italians say

‘WEST Auckland were drawn against Torino club in the first round of the tourney for the “Coppa Lipton” valued 100 guineas.

The first match was between the Swiss team Zurich and Juventus (Italian), which the writer of these notes had the honour of refereeing, or, as the Italian papers nicely put it, “Il match venne arbitrato dal trainer della squadra inglese Barron.”

The Italian team won by 2 goals to 0, which was a great surprise, as Zurich are an unbeaten team this season, and had five internationals who have played against England.

West certainly got a fright in their tie with Torino, as the score of 3 goals to 2 shows. Torino got through first, then Moore equalised.

Torino scored again, and we equalised; then four minutes from time West got the winning goal.

The long journey and excessive heat accounted for the near scoring, combined with very rough play on the part of Torino, who elbow you, hack, jump in the back, and foul in all sorts of ways, and being strong, healthy, big fellows they gave the West players more than they bargained for. So far as football is concerned the first game was superior.

The Swiss team played a beautiful passing game; but would not shoot when the opportunities occurred, and therefore paid the penalty.

Up to the present the following (nick)names have been given to us by the Italians: Riley, Gladiator; Hogg, Hoyol and Guthrie, Pinoctes; and I expect the rest will be christened afresh in the next games.

In the final West Auckland played Juventus, and won by 6-1 after some beautiful play by the Auckland forwards.

Four goals were registered in 15 minutes, the first by Moore, the second by Appleby from his head, a splendid goal, the third by Rewcastle, the fourth by Dunn, and later a fifth by Moore and sixth by Dunn.

The Italians are delighted when a goal is scored, and call for more “Goals, goals,”

and they think there is no football unless you are continually scoring. After the match a great reception was given West, when the Cup was presented by Chevalier Verona (director of “Stampa Sportiva”, a sporting paper which inaugurates these competitions, and whom the King of Italy has rewarded, for his services to sport generally, with a title chevalier, (which is similar to Sir in England).

Mr Alderson, the captain, thanked him on behalf of the team, after which “yours truly” gave a little speech, and later gave a speech in Italian at a banquet in the Swiss Club, which will be repeated on the arrival of the team at West Auckland tomorrow night, with an Italian song learned by the team.

West play a picked team tonight (Wednesday) at Turin, kick-off 5pm, afterwards travelling to Milan on Thursday and Genoa on Saturday.

One feature of these matches is the great kindness of the Italians to the English team wherever they appear, whether in the street, hotel or football field.

The finalists with West Auckland were greatly elated at scoring a goal against us, and do not forget to remind us of the fact.

Today in the street, we saw men yoked like horses to a water barrel, watering the streets.

■ With thanks to Gordon Nicholson, John Phelan and Durham Amateur Football Trust.