CORBETT Cresswell, a pivotal member of the legendary Bishop Auckland football team of the 1950s, has died. He was 84.

Born in South Shields in August 1932, he died three days before his home town club lifted the FA Vase at Wembley. “He would have been very proud,” said family friend Rob Lawson.

Winner of ten amateur international caps, Corbett was centre half in the Bishops side which won the FA Amateur Cup in three successive seasons, 1955-57.

The Northern Echo: Corbett Cresswell, second left, holding aloft Jimmy Nimmins after Bishops won the 1957 FA Amateur Cup.

Warney Cresswell, his father, attracted a world record fee of £5,500 when transferred from South Shields to Sunderland in 1922 and made 571 Football League appearances, scoring just once, for South Shields, Sunderland and Everton.

Frank Cresswell, his uncle, captained England schoolboys four times and made 13 Sunderland appearances before spells with West Bromwich Albion and Chester. All three later suffered from dementia.

Warney, who won seven full England caps, was nicknamed the Prince of Full Backs – though Corbett never liked to be reminded of it.

“He hated it, absolutely hated it,” says former Bishops’ team and fellow England international Derek Lewin. “He wanted to be known as Corbett Cresswell, not just the son of Warney.”

He joined Evenwood Town in 1951, moved to Bishop Auckland and appeared in the fabled 1954 Amateur Cup final against Crook Town, Crook eventually winning after two replays warched by a total 200,000 fans. The Bishops won the trophy in the following three seasons.

Club captain Bob Hardisty spoke at the time of a “deceptive, long-striding centre half who looked so slow until you ran with him.”

Derek Lewin recalls a wonderful stopper. “He was like a breath of fresh air when he came to the club, a very interesting man who didn’t suffer fools gladly and a very, very good player.”

Corbett formed a particular bond with legendarily eccentric goalkeeper Harry Sharratt, though it may hardly been supposed a mutual admiration society. Corbett recalled it in Glory Days, Alan Adamthwaite’s account of the golden age.

“Harry was a bloody idiot. He’d pull off fantastic saves and then deliberatrely throw the ball to a marked Bishop player…..then, more often than not, Harry would produce another remarkable save. Without any shadow of a doubt he was the best goalkeeper ever.”

Corbett was thought to be on the verge of signing for Manchester United after the Munich air disaster in February 1958 but the deal hit a late problem. Instead he joined Carlisle United, making just 14 appearances before returning to the North-East with Horden CW.

He worked in the furniture business – “there can’t be anyone in the Tyne-Tees area hasn’t bought an occasional table from Corbett,” supposes Derek Lewin – and lived for many years in Harton Village, near South Shields before moving to Low Fell, Gateshead. He was a former captain of South Shields golf club and also played high level tennis and bridge before becoming ill ten years ago. His funeral is at St Helen’s church, Low Fell, at 10am on Friday.