NINETY years ago, Crook Town FC made club history by reaching the FA Cup 3rd Round for the first and only time. Their reward for beating Southern League Aldershot 1-0 at home in a Round 2 replay was a home game with Division 1 Leicester City on Saturday, January 9, 1932. It was one of the most mouth-watering fixtures ever recorded in the diaries of Crook Town Football Club's players, members and supporters.

What more could the club want after they had survived the Crook Affair of 1927-28 when someone, or some football club, informed Durham FA that the club's financial books might not bear official scrutiny.

The allegation was that not all gate money was being recorded, and that the surplus was being used to pay amateur players. It made front page news in August 1927, became a witch hunt, and ended in a court battle for the Durham County Challenge Cup, the suspension of 341 players and scores of officials, particularly at Crook, where club secretary EF Peart was suspended from football or football management "for all time".

Other Crook Town FC officials were suspended indefinitely.

Crook though survived, and in July 1928 the club was reformed, being accepted into the Durham Central League for the 1928-29 season and then back into the Northern League for 1929-30. At the end of that season, a decision was made to turn professional and join the North Eastern League. So in the 1931-32 season, when they were drawn at home to Division 1 Leicester City in the FA Cup 3rd Round, they were a professional club playing in the North Eastern League.

On their way to Round 3 in 1931-32, they had beaten Durham City, Horden, Murton CW, and Bishop Auckland (the likely whistleblowers to Durham FA), in the qualifying rounds. Then they'd beaten 3rd Division North Stockport County in Round 1 followed by Southern League Aldershot in Round 2 with centre forward Colin Cook, signed from Bradford City, scoring 11 goals on the way.

The Northern Echo: Colin Cook, who had played in the Football League for South Shields and Bradford City,  scored 11 FA Cup goals to help Crook reach. the 3rd Round of the FA Cup.  His overall total f'a phenomenal 72 league and cup goals in 53 games, an all-time club

Colin Cook, who had played in the Football League for South Shields and Bradford City, scored 11 FA Cup goals to help Crook reach the 3rd Round of the FA Cup. His overall total that season was a phenomenal 72 league and cup goals in 53 games, an all-time club record

With the world at their feet, the committee of Crook Town FC dropped a bombshell, and as soon as the draw was made, they announced that they had agreed to switch the tie to Filbert Street for financial reasons. The decision was met with angry responses from supporters and supporters groups. The Ladies' Supporters Group, who raised a lot of money for the club, disbanded in protest, while many supporters felt that they had been betrayed, and swore they would never watch Crook again.

On top of all this, in the early 1930s the demand for coal had fallen and lots of men in this mining town were out of work. Therefore, their chances of watching a team from the English First Division were limited - unless, of course, their local side drew them in the cup.

The Northern Echo: A local Leicester sports paper previews the forthcoming 3rd Round FA Cup tie between Leicester City and Crook Town at Filbert Street, Leicester.

How the Leicester Mercury previewed the big match with Crook

So it was under this cloud of supporters' anger that Crook travelled to Leicester. Before the game, Crook skipper Nichol Wall, a former Norwich City player, said: "If we can stop Hine we have a sporting chance." Hine was the Leicester number nine and the story of the game was that Crook failed to stop him, and he scored five times in a 7-0 Leicester win.

The Northern Echo: The Crook Town team line up at Leicester before their FA Cup 3rd Round tie at Filbert Street.  Back L-R  Douglas, Lamb, Mitton, Davies, Cook, Wall (captain), Briggs.  Front L-R Ferguson, Dunn, Hill and Wyness.

However Crook's share of the receipts was £1,521 compared to just £320 for their Round 2 home replay with Aldershot, and the rest of the season, despite being played under a cloud of supporters' boycotts, was successful. Crook finished in fourth position in the North Eastern League and won the Durham Challenge Cup. Colin Cook scored a phenomenal 72 League and Cup goals in 53 games, an all-time club record which is never likely to be beaten. His record included six against Annfield Plain, a five, a four, plus six ordinary hat-tricks.

Leicester City reached Round 5 where they were beaten by Newcastle United, who went on to win the cup.

WE are saddened to hear of the passing of Ron Fryer who appeared in two FA Amateur Cup Finals for Bishop Auckland. He also played at Crook Town where he won two England Amateur International caps, and later helped West Auckland lift the Dirham Challenge Cup in 1964-65 at Feethams, Darlington.

QUESTION: Which two Bishop Auckland footballers played in the same two FA Amateur Cup Finals at Wembley, but neither was presented with a winners or a losers medal?

Thanks to Dave Kidd and Michael Manuel this week.