IN THE 1960s and 1970s, it was all change in the FA Amateur Cup competition with Bishop Auckland and Crook Town, former giants of the competition, nothing more than also-rans. The southern clubs cleaned up with Hendon winning the Cup in 1965 and 1972, Wealdstone in 1966, Enfield in 1967 and 1970, Leytonstone in 1968, Walton and Hersham in 1973 and Bishops Stortford, in 1974, the last Amateur Cup competition.

After Crook Town won the Amateur Cup in 1964, only North Shields in 1969 won the coveted amateur trophy for the Northern League again. Whitby Town were losing finalists in 1965, Northern League Blyth Spartans losing semi-finalists in 1972 and Whitley Bay losing semi-finalists in 1966 and 1969. That was that as far as the Northern League and the Amateur Cup was concerned.

Just over 50 years ago, on Saturday, January 29, 1972, the Northern League clubs in the Amateur Cup 2nd Round draw were Spennymoor United at Wycombe Wanderers, Shildon at Hitchin, North Shields at Woking, and Tow Law against Blyth Spartans.

The Northern Echo: The match programme for the FA Amateur Cup 2nd Round tie between Wycombe Wanders and Spennymoor United at Wycombe on Saturday January 29 1972.

Spennymoor, with Billy Bell as coach, were the fancied club from County Durham. Moors supporter John Gibbons recalled: "I'm not surprised that Wycombe Wanderers are now in the Football League Division 1, the same league as Sunderland, because back then in 1972 when we arrived at the Wycombe ground there was a business type atmosphere, with dolly birds in short skirts selling programmes and tickets, while their social club was much more impressive than ours."

The Northern Echo: Teams in the match programme for the FA Amateur Cup 2nd Round tie at Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday January 29 1972.

Teams in the match programme for the FA Amateur Cup 2nd Round tie between Wycombe Wanderers and Spennymoor on January 29, 1972

Spennymoor player Tony Butterfield (below) recalled the game for other reasons. "It was a bitterly cold day and the pitch, which had a huge slope from one wing to the other, was rock hard," he said. "The sloping pitch was a major factor in the result, a 2-1 win to them.

The Northern Echo: Tony Butterfield.

"Early in the game I made a tackle and damaged the interior ligaments of my right knee. I played on until just after the interval but had to be substituted. I was out for two or three months. In the meantime we went to the top of the Northern League. I was on my way back when we had a crunch league game with second placed Blyth Spartans.

"Our coach, Billy Bell, said, 'I would like you to play today Tony'. I said I wasn't quite ready, so Billy organised a fitness test. He placed a football next to a concrete post and said 'kick the ball'. I said that I couldn't do it as my knee would not stand up to the impact. However, I agreed to start the game and see how it went. Fortunately I got through the game which we won easily and we went on to win the league."

In the other 2nd Round ties in January 72, both Shildon and North Shields lost 1-0, to Hitchin and Woking respectively, while Blyth Spartans beat Tow Law 4-0 at the Ironworks ground with Brian Slane 2, Gordon Smith and Eddie Alder their scorers. In the next round, Mickey Lister, 2, and Ronnie Scott scored in a 3-0 win for Blyth at Woking. In the quarter-final Blyth were held 1-1 at home by Leatherhead but won the replay 1-0 with Ian Nixon scoring.

Their semi-final tie with Enfield at St James' Park attracted an 18,650 crowd but in a scrappy game on a windy day Blyth lost 2-0 with Syd Hill and John Butterfield scoring for Enfield. In an all Isthmian League final Enfield lost 2-0 to Hendon.

It is worth noting that Wycombe Wanderers never beat Bishop Auckland in an Amateur Cup tie. After one Amateur Cup semi-final defeat to Bishop, a Wycombe supporter said to his friend as they left the ground: "We'll never beat Bishop – they bring players in from all over the country." Now Wycombe Wanderers are in the same league as Sunderland. Most of the time in the 1950s and early 1960s, if an amateur team from County Durham met a southern team in the Amateur Cup, you would put your money on the Durham lads.

A former amateur player from County Durham who won two Amateur Cup winners medals once said: "When the southern teams came up here they got a culture shock."


RAY SNOWBALL, who won three Amateur Cup winning medals with Crook Town, in 1959, 1962 and 1964, is approaching his 90th birthday. An event to mark the occasion will be held in the Crook Town AFC Social Club from 2pm to 4pm on Tuesday, March 8. All are invited.


A WORLD famous sportsman once met a world famous pop group from the 1960s and remarked: "Who were those Cissies?" Who was the sportsman and who were the group?

Thanks this week to Dave Kidd, John Gibbons and Tony Butterfield.