Forty years ago this weekend, November 3 1962, Crook Town went to Hull City in an FA Cup first round tie, led 4-1 and lost 5-4.

"When you get old you forget about things, but I've never been able to forget that," says Ray Snowball, Crook's distinguished goalkeeper.

"Cliff Brittan, our manager, didn't swear," recalls Hull and former Sunderland outside left John McSeveney. "He just flipped and flopped and at half-time he was flipping and flopping all over the place."

Derek Hebden, the Echo's match reporter, considered it probably the most exciting cup tie Boothferry Park had ever witnessed. "Not a soul moved before the final whistle."

Without young left back Frank Clark, transferred to Newcastle the week previously, Crook went behind after ten minutes. Ken Bowron equalised, 17-year-old John Cocking scored the second and Peter Garbutt a third before half-time.

Flipping and flopping notwithstanding, Cocking - watched by Leeds United manager Don Revie - hit his second within five minutes of the restart.

"I think we thought we'd won it, but then every time Hull came up the field they seemed to score," says Ray Snowball, now 70, who also made 13 Football League appearances for Darlington.

"They seemed to be breakaways," insists left half Allan Brown, now 63, who won two Amateur Cup medals with Crook. "The pitch had a slight slope, they must have been kicking downhill."

Ironically, John McSeveney and Ray Snowball had been close friends after the young Scot arrived at Roker Park from Hamiltom Academicals in 1951 - part-time footballer, full-time colliery mechanic at Wearmouth Colliery, where the Stadium of Light now stands.

McSeveney, just 5ft 7in tall, scored twice in Hull's fight back - once with a header.

"I got quite a few with my head when I was in the right place. My trouble was being in the right place," he says.

After Hull he became manager of Barnsley, where still he lives, assistant manager of Nottingham Forest, manager of Waterford, national coach in Guyana, coach in Oman, assistant manager of Sheffield United, still scouts for Manchester United at 71 and considers the Tigers' claw back the greatest he ever saw.

"I know they were only supposed to be amateurs, but on the day they were a very good team," he says.

The 9,000 crowd applauded Crook from the field, Hull players making way for their exit. Snowball and McSeveney embraced like the old friends they were.

"We were shattered and bitterly disappointed," says Ray, long in East Boldon, near Sunderland. "Forty years, and still someone has to remind me."

November 3 1962? Brian Clough, part of a £137,000 forward line which includes John Crossan on his debut, hits three in Sunderland's 6-2 win over Grimsby, Boro leak six in the second half at Southampton - "like the cost of living, the goals against column just keeps on going up," writes Ray Robertson - and Newcastle lose 4-2 at Chelsea, despite the efforts of outside right Billy Day, signed from Middlesbrough and now a bookie back on Teesside.

Hartlepools, bottom of the fourth division, lose at Carlisle ("a miserable game"); Horden, managed by Sunderland legend Bobby Gurney, lose 2-1 at home to Darlington Reserves, and Redcar Albion beat Consett 2-1 in the North Eastern League.

The front page, then as now, is dominated by job losses - 900 to go at Thorn-AEI in Sunderland. Elsewhere in sport, Jim Clark wins the Mexico Grand Prix, Colin Cowdrey registers his third successive duck in Australia and new Rushyford trainer Taffy Williams has a winner with only his second runner - Daphne's Pal, 20-1, at Catterick.

Jockey Tony King collapses shortly afterwards - shock, perhaps - but is allowed home from hospital. Whatever happened to Taffy Williams?

Very much more recently, Murton were also 4-1 down to Chester-le-Street in the Durham Challenge Cup last week - and with just ten minutes to go. With two minutes remaining, they still trailed 4-3. At the final whistle, they too had won 5-4. It mightn't be talked about in 40 years, but it won them the Albany Northern League performance of the week award - sponsored by Albany Group chairman and former four-minute miler Brooks Mileson.

Trouper that he is, Sir Bobby Robson will go ahead with his Tow Law talk-in tonight, despite the four broken ribs which (we now learn) he sustained in a fall at home last week.

"It even hurt getting his hair cut, but he'd be there even if he had to be propped up by an ambulanceman either side," says our man at St James'.

Last year the charismatic Magpies manager entertained the Lawyers for two and a quarter hours; broken bones notwithstanding, none would bet against a similarly breathtaking performance tonight.

"Sir Bobby," says the man near his side, "is the Ken Dodd of football."

The Bobby Robson show, for such it is, sold out in two hours. Tickets remain, however, for tonight's Willington FC sportsmen's evening and auction with Eric Gates. The club is also anxious to appoint a commercial manager. Chairman John Phelan is on 01388 768551.

Another nine-goal wonder, we've been loaned the programme from Chelsea v Manchester United, October 16 1954 - the day that Bishop Auckland's Seamus O'Connell scored a hat-trick on his Chelsea debut and still finished, 5-4, on the losing side.

Particularly, however, we are taken by programme correspondence about Chelsea's previous home game, against West Brom, when over 67,000 were packed in. Many never saw a ball kicked; several wrote to complain about danger and discomfort.

It was all their own fault, Chelsea replied, for not arriving earlier and moving further to the front. "Unfortunately," the club added, "there seems to be a very selfish spirit among some people today. This is typified by your comments."

Still flicking around in the small world of Subbuteo, John Briggs in Darlington e-mails a picture of the ultimate accessory - Subbuteo streakers. Unfortunately they are too small (as it were) effectively to be reproduced here.

Sports scientist Ken Houlahan, helping provide a shot in the arm at Evenwood Town FC, now plans a series of coaching courses further to develop youth football provision in that part of Co Durham.

Two free introductory sessions will be held on Sunday November 10, 7-11 year olds from 1-2pm and 12-16s from 2.30-3.30pm, followed by mixed courses costing £1 a time for the rest of the season.

All sessions will be led by FA coaches with child protection qualifications. Eventually Ken hopes to start junior, reserve and senior women's teams at Evenwood.

"By using our floodlights we hope to provide a unique and much needed service in the Teesdale area," says Ken. Excellent bloke, he's on 07974 474109.

It's also on Sunday November 10 that Billingham Synthonia mark the golden jubilee of their first floodlit match - the first northern club, amateur or professional, to leave the dark age.

Now as then, the main match (4pm kick off) will be between Synners and the RAF, though teams of Boro and Billingham old boys play beforehand.

Several players from that otherwise gloomy evening in 1952 are expected to attend. The lights will officially be re-inaugurated at 3.55pm by Group Captain Peter Hylton.

Keith Hopper, capped by Durham County at both cricket and football and still batting boisterously at 69, rings to seek information on a turn for the elderly members' Christmas party - they'll be having the column's old friend Bert Draycott WCSP from Fishburn. WCSP stands for World Champion Spoons Player, of course.

And finally...

Tuesday's poser, it may be recalled, sought the identity of Sunderland's 12 first team goalkeepers in the 1980s. Paul Dobson in Bishop Auckland e-mailed the full set at 8 06am, particularly commendable since he hadn't arrived home until 1 15am ("roadworks") from the previous evening's match at Bolton.

John McIntyre in Brompton, Northallerton, also rang with the doughty dozen - Tony Norman, last heard of in Durham Constabulary, 227 appearances, Chris Turner (223), Barry Siddall (189), Iain Hesford (114), Tim Carter (50), Bob Bolder (29), Andy "Officer" Dibble (12), Steve Hardwick (eight), Seamus McDonagh (seven), Mark Prudhoe (seven), North Yorkshire lad Bobby Mimms (four) and poor Cammy Duncan, who despite saving a penalty on his debut made just one Football League and two League Cup appearances in a three-year sojourn.

He subsequently became Partick Thistle's £60,000 record signing and ended his career four years ago at Albion Rovers.

Same club, more straightforward question, John Briggs invites the identity of the three Sunderland players who became manager at Leeds United.

From darkness into light, the column returns in 11 days' time with a report from Billingham Synthonia.

There's gold in Ferryhill

Sport's alternative Steve Davies - "the other one plays snooker and is more interesting than me," he says - is back from the World Masters Games in Melbourne with three cycling golds and a silver.

"I just seemed to have magic legs last week," says Davies with an 'e', an achievement still more remarkable because 17 years ago he'd hung up his bike clips - or whatever it is they have - to spend more time with the family. He returned to the saddle in 1998.

Steve, 50, rides proudly for Ferryhill Wheelers, just past their 75th anniversary, and is an insurance broker with BIB in Darlington.

His wheels were undoubtedly oiled, however, by the decision of close friend and rival Ian Hammill, a Manchester dentist, to retire after the world championships in early October. Hammill also wanted to spend more time with his family.

Without Ian Hammill salting his tail, or quite possibly vice-versa, he joined 25,000 other competitors at the World Masters - "the old farts Olympics," he says - winning gold in the 2000m pursuit, 500m time trial and 1000m sprint and coming second in the 85k road race. No other Briton won gold.

His ambition is now to win gold, and rainbow jersey, at next year's world championships.

"If Hammill's not there," says the interesting Steve Davies, "I just could."

Published: ??/??/2002