HARRY SHARRATT, the Bishop Auckland FC goalkeeper during the club's glory days in the 1950s, was the most talked about keeper in amateur football.

He was brilliant, but he was eccentric and easily bored.

Boredom often bothered him playing behind the Two Blues defence and half back line of Marshall at No 2, Steward 3, Hardisty 4, Cresswell 5, Nimmins 6, because in many games, nothing much got through and he was unemployed for long periods.

When called upon, though, he could leap high and pluck crosses out of the air as if he had turbo charged legs. He would dive full length to hold the hardest shots but the next minute, he was capable of the most incredible gaffs as he attempted to add some fun to his afternoon or evening.

For example, one afternoon at The Millfield, Crook, he came to the edge of his box to deal with a high bouncing ball, the result of a long clearance from a Crook defender.

At the same time, the Auckland centre half was chasing the ball with Arnold Coates, the Crook centre forward, behind him.

As the ball bounced into the penalty area, the Bishop Auckland centre half, facing his own goal, leapt to head the ball clear at the same time as Harry tried to punch it away. The result was that Harry put his centre half flat on his back with a punch that George Foreman would have been proud of and then fell over him, which left Arnold Coates to run the ball into an empty net.

Ken Bowron, who scored goals for Northern League clubs like Willington, Durham City, Whitley Bay and Crook Town, recalled a game at Kingsway, Bishop Auckland: "Harry made a regulation save, but instead of clearing the ball he put it on the ground and proceeded to dribble it towards the edge of his box.

“He shouted over to me: ‘Cmon son, try and take it off me.' I went over, dispossessed him and put the ball into the empty net."

Sixty-five years ago, on Thursday, December 15, 1955, Harry's love of fun and adventure found him out again in an FA Cup Second Round replay at Third Division North Scunthorpe United. The first game at Kingsway five days earlier had been watched by 13,500 fans who saw Auckland dominate the game, but 0-0 was the final score.

After the game, Bob Hardisty said to Derek Lewin: "I can't remember when we dominated a game like that but failed to win."

In the replay, Scunthorpe were a different kettle of fish and Davies soon put them ahead.

With time running out in the second half, Hardisty crossed a ball looking for Ray Oliver, but it was booted clear by the home centre half Heward and it went for a throw in on the halfway line. Harry had a rush of blood and ran to the halfway line to take the throw. He intended to throw it to Lewin but it was intercepted by the Scunthorpe left half Hubbard who banged it forward towards the empty Auckland goal where it rolled over the line and into the net.

Game over, with Harry probably not the most popular man in the Auckland dressing room.

That was not all. On the train home, Bishop secretary Kit Rudd went up and down the carriage giving the players their expenses.

He came to John Barnwell and asked: “How much time have you had off work young John?"

Barnwell replied: "But I'm still at school Mister Rudd."

Kit asked again but got the same answer. Hardisty heard the conversation and intervened, pointing out to Kit Rudd that John really was still at school.

Barnwell said later: "Within minutes I had more money in my pockets than my old man made in a week."

Bishop Auckland (first match): Sharratt, Marshall, Stewart; Hardisty, Creswell, Nimmins; Bradley, Barnwell, Oliver, Lewin, Rutherford.