George March, a hero of one of the most remarkable days in cricket history, has died. He was 85.

Ushaw Moor lad, George was a member of the Durham side which in the 1973 Gillette Cup beat Yorkshire at Harrogate – the first Minor Counties side ever to beat a first class county in a competitive match.

Yorkshire had six England men, including Sir Geoffrey and all-rounder Chris Old. Durham fielded a brickie, a joiner, a railwayman, a student and Alan Old, Chris’s brother, whose England caps were at rugby.

Yorkshire won the toss, batted, were dismissed for 135 with eight balls of the 60 overs remaining. Durham skipper Brian Lander, these days mostly in the paper for guiding walks around the Durham area, took 5-15 at brisk medium; 40-year-old George March’s slow left arm claimed 1-18 in eight overs.

Durham put on 58 for the first wicket, Russell Inglis hitting 47. George, batting at four, was run out for seven. They won with more than eight overs to spare.

We’d caught up with most of them at a 40-year reunion in Neil Riddell’s garden near Darlington in the high summer of 2013.

“It was beyond our wildest dreams to beat a first class county,” said Brian Lander, “but for it to be Yorkshire….”

George made 55 county appearances and was also a talented footballer and table tennis player. Steve Atkinson, George’s team-mate at both county and club level – Durham and Chester-le-Street – recalls a “superb” cricketer who didn’t always get the acclaim he deserved.

“He was a very good all-rounder. You don’t make 55 county appearances if you’re not very able.”

George is the second team member to die, after Russell Inglis. His funeral, attended by several of the Gillette team, was at Durham crematorium a week back Tuesday.

Steve Atkinson’s back in Co Durham after 27 years teaching in Hong Kong and, before that, eight in Holland. Jamie, his 27-year-old son, still keeps wicket for Hong Kong who’ve just qualified for the World Cup preliminary knock-outs – as, rather more negatively, have West Indies.

Like his dad, Jamie’s a Sunderland fan and obviously aware of that historic day in Harrogate. On the international field, his shirt back may offer a clue to his loyalties. He’s No 73.

It has been a doleful year. Last column of 2017, we learn of the passing of Frank McKenna, Bishop Auckland’s outside right in the 1956 FA Amateur Cup final win over Corinthian Casuals. Frank, a joiner from Blaydon, won England amateur and Great Britain Olympic honours before turning professional with Leeds, Carlisle and Hartlepool – five goals in 35 league appearances, 1959-60. He returned to North Shields, where his career had begun, hitting 41 in 34 games in 1960-61. He was 84, and lived in Leeds.

Carolling at the Crown in Manfield – southern bank of the Tees, near Darlington – we come upon the annual meeting of the Happy Hookers angling club.

There are four of them. Perhaps prudently, none is female.

The printed agenda is extensive, periodically interrupted by “Drinks break”, “Further drinks break” and “Additional drinks break.”

They’d got as far as “Tees barrage: seal monitoring report” when the column was obliged to leave. The one that got away.

The Railroad to Wembley a fortnight back reported upon Stockton Town’s victory over City of Liverpool. The Christmas issue of Cheers magazine, produced for North-East beer drinkers, includes a photograph of a banner at Liverpool’s home ground: “A failed AA meeting disguised as a football club,” it says. Suffice that Stockton’s clubhouse had a very good day.

Twice inside a fortnight we’ve been to matches at Consett, partly because little else survived the December chill. The Steelmen have what’s called a 3G pitch, and 60 junior teams who play on it. Both times it was bitter.

The programme records that central defender Ryan McKinnon and facilities manager Mark Bell are just back from a sponsored ascent of Ben Nevis – which may be even colder than Consett – in aid of the Movember men’s cancer charity.

“We didn’t think people would sponsor us just to grow a moustache,” said Mark.

They made it, topped £1,000 despite each believing that the other was carrying the day’s rations. The programme piece said nothing about how cold it was at 4,400ft. Acclimatisation, see.

The world’s best blog – – tells a colourful story of the recent Ebac Northern League match between Newcastle Benfield and Morpeth Town.

Benfield play in blue and white, Morpeth in yellow and black. When the visitors tried to bring on a sub, the assistant referee refused because the bandage on the player’s hand might clash with Benfield’s shorts.

Among Morpeth’s more printable protests was that it’s a bit hard to buy black and yellow bandages.

The liner not for turning, a chap in the crowd produced a marker pen (as you do) and blackened the offending object. That’s another 100 words wrapped up, anyway.

….and finally, the footballer who has scored most Premier League goals after coming on as a substitute (Backtrack, December 14) is Jermaine Defoe, prominent at the Sports Personality of the Year awards on Sunday.

Readers are today invited to identify the only members of the same family to have been named BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

The column returns on January 4. A very happy Christmas.