While a historic old bowling green officially closes tomorrow, football fan Hary Jarrett - well into his 80s- still rubs along quite nicely.

Mike Amos visits both, learns about "The Lashings of the North" and discovers why a single sparrow proved sadly protentous.

Arthur Mothersdale, who had one arm and a municipal cap, was a bit of a legend around Darlington.

He was a park keeper, a gentle son of the soil no doubt, but his fearsome reputation was enough to deter the most recalcitrant of young rips.

How greatly they miss men like Arthur Mothersdale.

Now Hundens Park might need an infantry battalion to keep it secure. The bowling green is surrounded by spiky topped fencing of the sort favoured by HM prisons, changing room doors resemble the vault of a small town Barclays Bank, the last pane of glass went many years ago.

"We've experienced vandalism and goodness knows what else," says Ivor Shirley, chairman of the Hundens Green Association. "It really has been the most terrible problem."

They've been bowling at Hundens Park since 1925; tomorrow the Mayor performs the green's official closure. A care home will be built on the site.

Originally the park was agricultural land, the duck pond used by skaters and curlers. In 1920, however, the Royal Agricultural Show was held there - "Darlington's greatest social occasion of the 20th century," says bowling club secretary Graham Peacock - and the old place was never the same.

Eighty men spent a year, using 170 tons of wood and ten tons of nails, preparing the site. The North Eastern Railway built three sidings to help accommodate some of the 182,000 visitors and the royal train, which carried the Duke of York to Darlington.

The Duke, said the Darlington and Stockton Times, was "a clean cut, unassuming English youth, as fresh as a May morning."

Then as now, as thousands of local league footballers will testify, Hundens Park drained like Great Grimpen Mire, however. After several days rain, the showground became a quagmire.

Used continually since 1925, the bowling green fared better - better, perhaps, than many of its teams.

Until the more successful 1990s, the men had only once won the Darlington league and once the team knock-out.

Since 1970, however, the men's team has supplied 12 county players including Graham Peacock - a Durham man for 30 years and club champion 15 times.

"The spirit here is excellent. A lot of pride has gone out on that green in the past few years," he says.

The ladies, formed in 1929, have also enjoyed much success of late, eighth out of 834 in a national tournament last year and with three members - Kath Campbell, Norma Cooper and Margaret White - in the county side.

Tomorrow afternoon's formalities will be marked by a tournament, a last "spider" - bowls players will understand - and "tea and wads" in the windowless, well fortified clubhouse.

Wad's wads? "You'd know if you'd been in the Army," says Ivor.

From next May they move to a new home at the nearby Eastbourne sports complex, in the hope that the other man's grass may be greener yet. If they can get a pavilion out of the council - talks are ongoing, as they say - they hope that it, too, will be county standard.

As well as heavy padlocks and high security fences, the likes of old Arthur will be replaced by a battery of closed circuit television cameras. "It's the way of the world," says Graham. "We're looking forward to it."

A bit belatedly, Wednesday's Times carried a half page obituary on legendary former Bishop Auckland goalkeeper Harry Sharratt. Much of the rest of the obits page was taken up with a tribute to Paul Tripp, the man who composed Tubby the Tuba.

The great showman, three times an Amateur Cup medal winner and capped six times as an England amateur, died on August 19, aged 72.

Perhaps hitherto unknown to Echo readers, The Times adds that Harry had his prefect's badge removed for playing too much football, that he was Blackpool's reserve goalie in the 1953 Matthews final, that he was "known to survey the scene whilst perched casually on the crossbar" and that he was a Freemason and a railway buff.

Tubby the Tuba was at his height at much the same time, principally on Children's Favourites. The 14 minute saga of the instrument shunned by the orchestra was recorded by everyone from Danny Kaye to Peter Ustinov and sold 250,000 copies in 1946 alone.

Tubby finally made the orchestra, of course, but never did get to play for Bishop Auckland.

Harry Jarrett - not, of course, to be confused with Harry Sharratt - had his own few moments in the spotlight on Tuesday.

It was the night that Durham City celebrated 50 years continuous Northern League membership. Harry - "well into my 80s," he said, coyly - has faithfully followed them since their days in the Third Division (North), on a ground called Kepier Haughs.

"It was pretty rough, all ash and railway sleepers, depression days and maybe twopence to get in.

"We lived in Gilesgate, on the other side of the river, but there was a man called Lofthouse who used his rowing boat as a ferry - ha'penny each for schoolboys and no need to walk through the city. The river bank steps are still there."

City were elected to the 20-member Third North in 1921-22 - alongside the likes of Ashington, Stalybridge Celtic, Nelson and Wigan Borough - and remained until finishing second bottom, above Nelson, in 1928.

The league, one-eyed, reprieved Nelson.

Durham moved to Holliday Park, played in the North Eastern League, folded before the war, re-formed in 1950, rolled up collective sleeves and built a new ground on a former orchard by the Wear.

Alderman Cecil Ferens, for whose company Harry worked all his life as a legal executive - "I'm a bit of a stayer," he said - had given £500 towards the purchase. The orchard became Ferens Park.

By then Harry was on the spade working committee and remained until three or four years ago. Particularly he remembers the 1957 FA Cup tie against Tranmere Rovers ("seven thousand inside, more out") and favourite players like Derek Ord and the column's swashbuckling old friend George Brown.

He watches City whilst standing - "I get itchy feet otherwise" - and Newcastle United, sitting, in the big screen Coach and Eight.

He was also on Durham City cricket club's committee and familiar on the golf course. The football club, now at the handsome New Ferens Park, gave him an inscribed rose bowl. The league gave City a salver.

"It's wonderful to have such loyal people," said City chairman Stewart Dawson and Harry, old faithful, will be back for the West Auckland match tonight.

Remember the story, end of last football season, about Joanne Smith? She was Newton Aycliffe's secretary in the Over 40s League, refused post-match admission to the bar at Hartlepool Catholic Club for the original sin of being a woman.

Last weekend, her team were at Wallsend RAOB. Joanne went with a couple of bairns.

Children could use a corner of the bar, said the Buffs, but women were only allowed in the lounge. Joanne adjourned to the lounge. "Sorry," they said, "no children."

Alex Greenwood particularly enjoyed Tuesday's recollection of Ferryhill Athletic's 18-0 FA Cup win over Skinningrove Works - a post-war record - because he was in the victorious team.

It was September 1953, and just one of those days. "Every time we went down the field we seemed to score," he says.

He was transferred to Willington, signed for Ted Drake's Chelsea - "I didn't make the first team, but I really enjoyed it" - crossed the Thames to Crystal Palace and after one league match made eight appearances for Darlington before the semi-pro circuit in the North Eastern League.

Now 69, he li ves in Binchester, near Bishop Auckland and reflects contentedly on his career. "Wherever I go, I've been."

Ominous portents from our friends at the Hole in the Wale (formerly Greyhounds, nee Cricketers) FC in Darlington. Morning of the season's first match, club secretary and stand-in goalie Alan Smith spies a lone sparrow drinking from his garden pond. One for sorrow? They lost 5-1.

Dunnington, sponsored by Costcutter and described as the Lashings of the North, have won the York and District Senior Cricket League. It seems hardly surprising.

The team this season has included West Indian test stars Alvin Kallicharan and Collis King, Australian full international Simon Cook, Yorkshire player Simon Kellett, Harwood Williams from the Leeward Islands, James Grant from Jamaica - now Essex - and Pakistani Hamid Khan.

It's Acomb, almost certain to be second, about whom Neil Edwards writes, however.

We were down there three summers since, chatting Prince Bradman Ediriweera, a record breaking and lustrously named Sri Lankan.

This season he's been succeeded at Acomb by countryman Shanuka Dissanayake - left arm spinning all rounder - who in 21 matches has taken 74 wickets and scored 500 runs, including 124 against Dunnington.

Neil, a club official, is altruistically hoping that a North-East club might want to offer their man a full professional contract next year. He's on 01904 611839.

Last week's note on the continued absence of Tony "Jesus" Day from this summer's county cricket circuit prompts a sighting from Stan Wilson at the Yorkshire II v Durham II match at Acklam Park, Middlesbrough. "Well, I didn't so much see him as hear him," says Stan, from Sowerby, near Thirsk. Day patients will understand.

And finally...

South Shields ground in Football League days (Backtrack, September 3) was, of course, Simonside Hall. Having successfully answered that one, Fred Alderton in Peterlee invites readers to name the season in which Newcastle United beat Hartlepools United in the first round of the FA Cup.

Time for reflection, the column returns on September 17.