A RATHER battered picture of Eldon Albion in the early 1950s has produced such a great response that we now know the names of all the players and many of their stories, too.

The picture was sent in by Colleen Bavin of Close House, near Bishop Auckland, and appeared in Sport Archives a fortnight ago.

Joss Richardson, 29, spotted his grandfather, Rance Richardson, at the centre of the front row, behind the small boy with the ball.

Joss said: "I idolised my grandfather Rance and looked after him for two and a bit years before he went into a care home. He also thought a lot about me.

“He was born on October 6, 1923, and had been a centre forward. I'm sure he held a goal-scoring record for Bishop Auckland, which was the other team that he played for along with Eldon Albion.

“He was also a golfer and was still playing at Bishop Auckland Golf Club when he turned 80.

“Funnily enough, he was fond of singing, and was a member of the Bishop Auckland Operatic Society, which is where he met his wife Rita who made the costumes and helped out in other ways.”

John Mattimoe said that the man standing far left at the back of the second row is his grandfather Joseph Mattimoe who ran the South Durham Hotel in Eldon Lane along with his wife, Eliza, and sons, Wilfred and Thomas.

Chris Rivers identified another of the Eldon Albion players. He said: "The man in the back row, second from the right and next to the man in the flat cap, is my late father-in-law, George Sugden Kettle, who was a full back and one of the youngest members of the team.

“I believe his nickname was 'Mucker' Kettle.”

Keith Lishman from Bishop Auckland thought that second player from the left in the back row was an ex-headteacher called John Bowran whose son was a retired doctor in Wolsingham.

John Simpson identified Roy Jones, second from the right in the front row, and Rance Richardson in the centre.

"Both of them worked at Shildon works," said John, who also recalled a game, possibly in the 1947-48 season, when Eldon Albion hit 10 goals against Darlington Reserves.

He said: "A few of us were behind the Darlington goal jeering their goalkeeper who was Ray Wood and who went on to play for Manchester United. He was only about 16 then. I remember the black and white hooped shirts of the Darlington team and an Eldon player called Tippy Callan.

Carole Wright spotted her late father, Joseph Robinson, who is the player far left in the front row next to the suited secretary Jack Carr. Joseph played football for Cockton Hill Juniors in 1940-41, Ernest and Henry in 1949, Darlington Railway Institute in 1953 and Tindale Crescent in the 1954-55 season.

Carole added: "He also played for the Royal Signals during the Second World War, and when he stopped playing he would take me to Kingsway to watch Bishop Auckland."

Jack Carr is the man who started all this off. He was Mrs Bavin’s father, and he returned in a bad state from a German prisoner of war camp. However, he helped the Albion became quite a local force in the early 1950s, and Mrs Bavin remembers they reached a cup final that was played at Bishop Auckland’s ground.

"Although we were a few miles away from Kingsway at Eldon, we knew when Eldon had scored because we could hear the roar from the crowd,” she said.