Cornsay Park Albion live again, re-awoken in the Russell Foster Under 14s League after a Rip van Winkle hibernation. Yes, yes says club secretary Colin Todd the Colin Todd from Catchgate but what can we tell him about the old Albion?

Next to nothing, really apart from their finest hour.

It was February 15, 1958. Cornsay Park Albion, having already seen off Amateur Cup holders Bishop Auckland in the Durham Challenge Cup first round, drew Sunderland Reserves, at home, in the second.

Sunderland was still the Bank of England club. Cornsay, then in the Durham Central League, changed in the back room of the Royal Oak where a solitary tin bathtub offered ablution, if not absolution, from their transgressions.

"Some of the younger Sunderland lads played hell," Eddie Oyston for many years a Roker Park scout once recalled. "Aa divvent knaa what they expected."

Cornsay is a one-horse place a few miles west of Durham. Sunderland included the likes of Charlie Fleming, Joe MacDonald and the young Jimmy McNab, two Scottish internationals and six men with first division experience.

"They were greeted by nearly every man, woman and child in the small mining community," reported the Sunderland Echo Pink that night.

It was also the day that 55,778 watched Wolves beat Darlington 6-1 in the FA Cup fifth round, that the young Brian Clough (see below) scored twice in Boro's 6-2 defeat at Charlton, Alan Smith "a 17-year-old schoolboy of great promise" hit two in Willington's 4-1 Challenge Cup victory over Darlington Reserves and an era ended at the Victoria Ground in Stockton where Bishop Auckland went down 2-1 to goals from Foxley and Monkhouse.

It was Bishops' first FA Amateur Cup defeat since losing to Crook in a twice-replayed final almost four years earlier. "Not even the most partisan fan could call it a triumph of skill," observed Ranger, in the Northern Echo, a little churlishly.

Over 1700, gathered on the pasture opposite the Royal Oak, went wild when Scullion put Cornsay ahead in the first half before England youth international Alan Spence equalised in the 70th minute.

Park Albion's team (with thanks to Davina Pickersgill at the Cross Keys in Esh) was: Arkwright, Taylor, Best; Kirby (M), Simpson, Pattison; Cairns, Scullion, Kirby (E), Roberts, Brankston.

Sunderland fielded: Bollands, McNally, MacDonald; Wardle, Robson, McNab; Bircham, Fleming, Spence, Goodchild, Godbold.

Remarkably, after Arkwright saved Charlie Fleming's penalty, Sunderland 'keeper Johnny Bollands South Bank lad, whatever happened to him? kept out another, ten minutes from time, from Pattinson.

Park Albion lost the replay 3-1, but all Cornsay claims to know why. The Bank of England club played three ringers, didn't they?

Still with Sunderland, the ever-excellent Tom Lynn editor of The Wearside Roar fanzine and irregular Backtrack reader kindly sends the question about five Sunderland players whose Christian names have ended with the letter O. "It was posed when we went down to Chelsea on the train last weekend. Horatio Carter almost caused a riot," says Tom. It wouldn't have been such a surprise to column regulars. We asked the same question a month ago.

Almost forgotten for 95 years, Alf Sanders's amazing summer of 1906 120 overs, 30 maidens, 257 runs, 65 wickets at an average 3.95 was recalled at a poignant little do at Etherley Cricket Club on Monday.

"Some canny bowling, mind," we suggested to club chairman John Baker.

"Aye," says John, "and some canny wickets, an' all."

Alf Sanders lived in Bishop, where he worked for the Co-op. Bootmaker, some say; blacksmith, others. None doubts his mettle as a cricketer.

Though he is on a 1908 team picture on the clubhouse wall Wolsingham and District League champions, village polliss also in attendance Alf's feat had escaped even David Wilson, author in 1992 of Etherley's much-acclaimed history.

It was the book which recorded that, on the club's formation in 1850, players were fined 6d for swearing and a shilling for entering the field by means other than the gate.

David also recalled that in the 1908 title season, the team's horse and trap would often be pelted by rival supporters "and people think that crowd violence is a modern phenomenon," he added.

No details had been available of 1906, however. Were it not for the mounted ball presented to old Alf, it would forever have remained that way.

Treasured by the demon bowler, it had been passed down to his five children, spent several years in London, returned to his daughter Evelyn's window sill in Durham and has now been returned to the club.

"Among the amazing things is that they seem to make cricket balls in exactly the same way then as now," says John Baker. "We will cherish it just as his family have done."

The ball was given back by Alan Naden, a family friend from Bowburn, following Evelyn's death at 87. "It's a wonderful average but I get the impression that Alf was very strict, he liked to have vengeance on people," he says.

He also has Alf's Wolsingham League championship medal and bowls trophies from the workmen's club in Toft Hill, the neighbouring village.

Jane Stookey, another friend, said the Sanders family remained very proud of Alf's prowess. "I'm sure he'd be delighted that the trophy he treasured is back where it belongs."

WhilE the rest of us nither and slither, we hear from the sun-kissed Cayman Islands where long-time former Boro centre half Bill Gates has still been caught cold while trying to warm up.

Bill, long a Cayman resident, also recalls playing as a 16-year-old for Spennymoor United at Tow Law when the referee was obliged to take the players off because some were suffering from exposure "and those were the days when men were men, though some of us were only boys."

The other morning, at any rate, he and Judith a child bride 40 years ago had gone down to the beach for the pre-breakfast exercises when Bill, touching his toes, experienced a "searing" pain in his lower back.

It meant four days flat in bed doctors said it was "only" a torn muscle and a week later, he's still just hobbling.

"The worst bit was having to ask Judith to put my shorts on every morning," says Bill, 56. "I suppose it's practice for her for when I'm really old, but in future I'll be more careful warming up."

Still, cricket's just around the corner. This week we've received fixture lists both from the King James club in Bishop Auckland and the Teesside-based Doghouse, of whom the column is vice-president. King James play Durham Ladies on July 1, while Doghouse face the Craven Gentlemen on August 19. A match between Durham Ladies and Craven Gentlemen would seem abundantly to be in order.

Deterred by the forecast, today's column would otherwise have come from the all-weather at Southwell if only to catch up with the sumptuously named Joanna Badger, who sounds like something from Beatrix Potter but is reckoned the next Queen of the Fibre Sand.

The race names continue little less refulgently. Wednesday's card included the Johann Sebastian Bach Handicap (Divisions One and Two), the Tea and Tephi Day Classified Stakes and Brian Clough's Birthday Stakes.

Though The Times claimed he was 65, the old incorrigible is 66 born at 11 Valley Road, Grove Hill, Middlesbrough (perhaps there's a blue plaque?) on March 21, 1935.

Much the most fascinating, however, was the Festival of Washerwomen Claiming Stakes, on which none of the column's resident historians is able to come clean. Almost certainly it's an anniversary. Assistance would greatly be appreciated.

Diplomatic as ever, our friends at Spennymoor Boxing Academy have new fighting colours half in the red and white stripes of Sunderland, the other half in Newcastle's Magpie monochrome.

"The town's loyalties are divided down the middle, so that's what we'll be, halfy-half," says Paul Hodgson, the secretary. "Sometimes the rivalry can get almost out of hand around here. We're trying to show that it can be friendly."

The kit, sponsored by local businessman Wayne Baister and Keith Pattinson, will be officially worn for the first time at the club's show on April 27.

The idea, says Hodgy, was chief coach Robert Ellis's. That, he adds mischievously, is a first, an' all.

Tuesday's poser. The footballing nation whom England have played just once in a full international Old Trafford, 1997 is South Africa.

Bill Moore today seeks the names of three players who have missed penalties in League Cup finals at Wembley.

Some of us could hardly forget. That tremulous trio on Tuesday.