A RARE winner’s medal from the first World Cup, won against overwhelming odds by a team of North-East miners, is to go under the hammer after being found at a car boot sale.

The team from West Auckland Football Club, County Durham, won the inaugural Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy in 1909.

The players, mainly miners, are thought to have had the medals struck themselves and it is believed that only three are still known to exist.

One owned by the winning team’s captain, Bob Jones, belongs to the club and another is at the National Football Museum.

The third was found in a box of football programmes bought at a car boot sale for £20 in the Newcastle area six years ago.

The anonymous buyer nearly threw away the medal, made of an alloy, as he did not realise what it was.

He has put it up for auction at Newcastle-based Garland and Anderson, with a list price of £3,000 to £5,000.

Steven Moore, senior specialist at Garland and Anderson, said: “He found the medal and tried to find out what it was without success.

“Twice his wife told him to throw it out, but he did more research and found one that had been listed for auction for £15,000 and realised what it was.

“This is from an iconic moment.

It’s one of the rarest football medals in the world.

“It’s a local landmark and it would be nice if it could stay in the region, but I hope it goes to someone passionate about football.”

Millionaire Sir Thomas Lipton organised the 1909 World Cup and invited club teams from Italy, Swtizerland and Germany.

The English Football Association refused to send a team and West Auckland went along instead for reasons that have never been conclusively identified.

They beat Stuttgart 2-0 and then Swiss side FC Winterhour 2-0 in the final. Then, in 1911, West Auckland defended the trophy in Italy by beating Juventus 6-1 in the final and the club kept the trophy.

The story was turned into the film The World Cup: A Captain’s Tale, starring Dennis Waterman, in 1982.

Stuart Alderson, the club’s general manager, said: “It’s an important part of the club’s history.

“I don’t think it’s something the club would try to buy as it’s out of our depth.”

The auction will take place on September 13.