FORTY years ago Arnold Coates spearheaded Crook Town's attack against Hounslow in the FA Amateur Cup Final at Wembley. Crook were attempting to win the trophy for the fourth time in their history.

Coates, born in Crook, is now retired and lives in Burnley but he has clear memories of that memorable year: "I played outside right in the Crook team that beat Barnet 3-2 in the 1959 FA Amateur Cup Final.

"That was a great side but it broke up and at the start of the 1961-62 season Crook were in the process of rebuilding. Although we had players like Frank Clark, who went on to play for Newcastle and Nottingham Forest, in the team, we weren't a patch on the 1959 side and none of us thought we'd reach the Final."

Coates himself was returning from injury and he did not make his first appearance until January 13 in the first round tie against Ossett Albion. An Oliver penalty gave Crook a 1-0 win but they had to fight hard.

This win gave the Crook team confidence and in Arnold Coates they had a potential match winner. His predatory instincts and clinical finishing saw him pull Crook out of some desperately tight situations as they battled their way to Wembley.

The second round tie at home to Windsor and Eton looked to be heading for a 1-1 draw until Coates dropped a shot over the keeper's head in the dying minutes to give Crook a 2-1 win.

In the third round they were drawn away to Dagenham, Coates added: "We were murdered at Dagenham but came away with a 0-0 draw. In the replay we were trailing 1-0 with only ten minutes left. I had moved to centre forward because of an injury when John Heatherington pumped a long ball down-field. I saw Allan Brown bursting down the left and chested it to him. Allan ran on and hammered the ball into the net." Crook moved Coates to centre forward permanently and he rewarded them with early strikes against Wimbledon in the quarter-final and West Auckland in the semi-final. Crook winning both games 2-0.

Crook met Hounslow in the Final at Wembley on April 14.

"We were rubbish at Wembley," he said. "We didn't pass the ball quick enough and were often caught in possession. One or two had good games though and John Heatherington had a blinder at centre half."

Crook took the lead on 65 minutes when Mcmillan scored but Hounslow equalised in controversial fashion, Crook goalkeeper Ray Snowball remembers the incident well: "I went out to collect a weak header and heard Derek Gardener shout 'Watch him.' As I collected the ball their left winger Bruce Patterson launched himself at me, striking me on the back of the arm. The ball shot out of my arms into the net. I was surprised referee Jack Taylor allowed it to stand." The replay took place at Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough the following week. Coates, said: "Thankfully, we hit form. I scored two and Don Sparks and Jimmy Mcfillan both got one in a 4-0 win. We didn't think we could do it but we did.