Whilst not even one over, Friday's column on Roy Allen's eight-goal feat for West Auckland inexplicably omitted that it had been equalled by our old friend George Brown, an England amateur international.

Crook Town beat South Bank 9-0 on November 6, 1965. "The first half I only scored once and must have missed about six," recalls George.

"The second half, everything I hit went in. If I'd fallen over, it would have gone in off my backside."

Crook's recently published club history records not only that he was besieged by young supporters as he left the field but that he had the temerity to ask for the match ball as a souvenir.

Crook's committee refused. "It left George a little dismayed," adds the history, and to this day he confesses no stronger emotion.

"It wasn't the done thing at the time, but you know what they say about shy bairns...."

Born in Station Town, now in Spennymoor, he became one of the Northern League's most prolific scorers - including seven in a match for West Auckland - but won just one England cap, against the Netherlands in 1963. There's a story about that, an' all, but we needn't go into it just now. Unlike the late Stanley Holloway, George - despite his surname - wasn't much of a lad for brown boots.

While with Durham City he and fellow international Dave "Jock" Rutherford, the column's All Time Hero, wore green boots wangled from Geoff Hurst by legendary City manager Ray Wilkie, who had a sports shop in Spennymoor. When the green turned, George bought a white pair.

"They looked absolutely terrible but they were quite expensive so I had to keep on wearing them.

"Whatever the colour, mind, quite a lot still seemed to go in."

Though George Brown was confined to page 19, sport made front page news - and for the wrong reasons, as usual - after the events of November 6, 1965.

The Echo reported "a long list of disgraceful incidents", including the hand grenade hurled at Brentford goalkeeper Chic Brodie, the stones hurled at the Blackburn Rovers' coach as it left Old Trafford and the abuse hurled at the referee by United goalkeeper Harry Gregg, which resulted in his being sent off in his first game for 18 months.

A Larry cartoon, also on page one, reflected the increased police presence at football matches.

In the quieter waters of the Durham Challenge Cup first qualifying round, a record 500 crowd at Shildon BR watched the wagon workers lose 5-0 to Bishop Auckland, while across the town Shildon United - also of the Auckland and District League - were beating Durham City 2-1.

Bryan Robson scored both Newcastle's goals in a 2-0 win over Southampton, though the chief excitement was in the debut of Kit Napier, signed from Workington. He played just seven more games.

Sunderland gained a fortunate point at Stoke City ("bare faced robbery," wrote Frank Johnson) while two goals from Ernie Phythian helped Hartlepools, under new management, beat Crewe 4-1.

"Brian Clough," wrote the late Jack Fletcher presciently, "is a young man who is going places."

Eyebrows arched, Friday's column also reported former Bishop Auckland chairman Steve Newcombe's claim that Phil Linacre - perhaps better remembered at Hartlepool - had once scored 11 in a match. Bishops' fan John Cowey doubts it, too.

The Bishops did once beat Ferryhill John Dee, of the Auckland and District League, 11-0 in a County Cup game but Linacre managed but seven. "Steve," says John, "may be getting a little confused."

The process of "restructuring" non-league football, akin to rebuilding the Great Pyramid but altogether more time consuming, continued on Friday with an all-day meeting at Ilkeston FC, in the Derbyshire borough of Erewash.

Erewash should not be confused with eyewash, which is something else entirely.

Ilkeston is between Derby and Nottingham. They play in the Southern League, the nearest neighbours to Kings Lynn. It perhaps helps explain why non-league football needs restructuring and why Ilkeston's players weren't much looking forward to Saturday's match at Tiverton.

Tiverton is in Devon.

Those present also spoke of the familiar frustrations of football's disciplinary system, where players from different leagues - Northern and Unibond, for example - are subject to wholly different penal codes, one far more draconian than the other.

The problem was addressed by Jack Pearce, a senior FA Council member, who himself fell foul of the "one law for us" scam after a cup match - banned for 112 days while the chap with whom he was skirmishing got two matches.

Jack wrote angrily to Lancaster Gate. "We are pursuing the irregularities and expect to resolve the problem soon," replied the FA. It was 1973.

The Derbyshire Times, meanwhile, reports that former Newcastle United player Jamie Burt is finally finding the net - after Chesterfield spent £70 on contact lenses. The short-sighted striker - with Whitby Town earlier in the season - scored in his first game with optical assistance. In the second, double vision, he hit two .

"They've proved a real benefit," says bashful Burtie, a man with an interesting past but with his life at last in focus.

On Saturday to Brigg, in Lincolnshire, for the FA Carlsberg Vase last 16 replay with Whitley Bay.

The previous week they'd drawn 3-3, Brigg's Simon Roach hitting a hat-trick. On Saturday he had flu and it was precisely ten seconds before Brigg, too, caught a cold.

The Albany Northern League side kicked off, played the ball wide to John Sunderland, who crossed from the right by-line and may have been as surprised as anyone else to see home full back Roy Raspin - rasping Raspin - clatter the ball into his own net.

It was the first time a Brigg player had touched the ball. Sixer, also in attendance, went to the jammy doughnut stall to celebrate.

Formed in 1864 and known for entirely evident reasons as the Zebras, Brigg, like West Bromwich Albion, play at the Hawthorns. Before that they were at the Brocklesby Ox ground - a half-brother to the Durham Ox, perhaps - and before that played in the grounds of a convent, the players suitably purged with buckets of cold water at the end of the affair.

The Seahorses, as Whitley Bay now like to be known, were two up after 54 minutes when Kevin Walton's shot may have taken an Incey-wincey deflection off a divot but more likely slipped straight through the poor goalie's fingers.

Sixer, stratospheric, headed back to the jammy doughnut stand. They ensured that they would be the Northern League's second team in the quarter-final when Walton, a vet, converted an 83rd minute penalty. The doughnut stall, sadly, had shut.

Whitley Bay now visit Clitheroe, in Lancashire, on March 2.

There may be more of the Clitheroe kids ere long.

THE first English football competition to be sponsored (Backtrack, February 15) was the Watney Cup.

Fred Alderton in Peterlee not only knew that, not only asks how many times Sunderland appeared in the FA Cup final between 1973 and 1980 - the clue to that old chestnut is in the Whitley Bay report above - but also seeks the identity of the first black player to make an FA Cup final appearance.

We return, black and white and read all over, on Friday

Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2002