'EVERY cloud has a silver lining' described perfectly the situation in our house during the period March/April 1959.

The cloud was that dad had been laid low by a mysterious virus, and after a spell in hospital where he had been seriously ill, he was back home, but still very poorly upstairs.

The silver lining involved Crook Town AFC, who the family supported, and who had reached the semi-finals of the FA Amateur Cup.

Crook's success would later prove to be the turning point in dad's battle to get well, but the first problem was, with dad out of action, "Who was going to take me to the semi-final at Roker Park, Sunderland to watch Crook play Leytonstone?"

The issue had reached 'Brexit' proportions when a family friend Tommy Dixon agreed to take me. The plan was, that on my own, I would board one of the 'Football Special' trains at our railway station in Howden-Le-Wear, and meet up with Tommy, who would join the train at Shildon railway station.

Easier said than done, because the Football Special from Crook was practically full when it arrived in Howden. It then picked up more fans at the Etherley and Bishop Auckland stations before it arrived at Shildon where there were scores of people on the platform. Somehow, through the window of my carriage, and through the crowds of people I spotted Tommy, who waved and then joined me in my carriage, and we were on our way.

That was the first problem over with, the second problem was Leytonstone, our opponents at Roker Park in the afternoon. I had already had my heart broken the year before in the semi-final of the Amateur Cup at Roker Park when Crook lost 1-0 to Ilford in 1958. To add insult to injury my hero and good friend Bert Steward missed a penalty that afternoon, so it was a real bad day. Thoughts of the same thing happening again made it 'squeeky bum' time.

I needn't have worried, because Crook, who were not at their best, were too strong for Leytonstone. I recall Jimmy McMillan, the Crook outside left, once telling me that the sporting press reported that he put in a 'Finney-like' performance against Leytonstone. Jim was one of the few Crook players who was on form, the other was Colin Bainbridge, the Crook centre half. Some players were right off their game, including Brian Keating, the scorer of both Crook goals.

I had my eyes on reserve George Masters who played at right half in place of the injured Bill Jeffs to see how he would perform. I thought he did well even though the Crook Football Club committee later left him out of the team to play Barnet in the final at Wembley. With Bill Jeffs still unfit, they picked Derek Carr who had played only a handful of games for Crook, George had been at Crook all season, I don't think he took it well.

I always remember Crook's first goal at Roker Park, a left wing cross from Jimmy Mac on 28 minutes and a bullet header from Brian 'Buster' Keating. After that there were a series of thrilling non-stop attacks by Crook with Keating and Coates firing wide. On 82 minutes Crook's inside left MikeTracey headed on to the bar and Keating headed in the rebound to make the final score 2-0 in Crook's favour. I left Roker Park a lot happier than I did in 1958, now the question was, "Who was going to take me to the final at Wembley in April?"

We hope to have a Special Edition of Sport Archives available on Saturday April 20th to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the FA Amateur Cup Final between Crook Town and Barnet at Wembley Stadium on Saturday April 18th 1959.

Sport Archives is sad to hear of the passing of Derek Lewin, a fine footballer, and a gentleman on, and off the field. Derek was a very friendly person and a big supporter of the Durham Amateur Football Trust. He also contributed many times to the Sport Archives column as well as providing lots of information for my book Hopes and Heroes.