THE column a couple of weeks back recalled Gary Bennett’s time at Sunderland, prompting Alan Peart in Sedgefield to send what might be termed a star-crossed photograph of the 1985-86 squad.

You can tell it’s quite old because there’s still an advert for the Pink, or whatever hue the Saturday night sports then was, and the main sponsor was Vaux Brewery (RIP).

Alan – one of the Weardale clan of Pearts, almost inevitably – was in the habit of crossing out players from the team pic, if not quite airbrushing them from history, as they left the club.

After relegation to the old third division in 1986-87, many did. “It wasn’t exactly what any of us were expecting after Lawrie McMenemy arrived,” says Alan though the big man did, of course, promise to get them out of the second.

Benno, at any rate, became the last man standing – though it may be a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same. Commenting for BT on last Sunday’s FA Cup match at Port Vale, former Sunderland man Michael Gray observed that at his old club there was “a constant influx of players leaving.”

Tenures these days may be even shorter, though at the Stadium of Light there’s an obvious exception. Stockton lad Lee Cattermole, once Boro’s youngest ever captain, marks a decade as a Sunderland player next August.

Remember them? The Sunderland squad is (back row): Peter Daniel, Reuben Agboola, Mark Proctor, Barry Venison, Alan Kennedy. (Middle) Shaun Elliott, Gary Bennett, George Burley, Bob Boulder, Dave Swindlehurst, Howard Gayle, David Hodgson. (Front) Steve Berry, Ian Wallace, Nick Pickering, Clive Walker, Eric Gates, Frank Gray.

Rebuked by a judge for being absent from divorce proceedings, Ant McPartland was said to be walking his dog – a critter, as Martin Birtle in Billingham points out, called Hurley. Liz or Charlie? You’d not bet against the former.

John McGovern, Nottingham Forest and Hartlepool, spoke the other night at a sportsmen’s evening at the Masonic Hall in Ferryhill. Though his reputation’s as one of the better turns, our man on the square reckons it one of those many occasions when the comedian saves the night.

Someone asked McGovern why he’d never played for Scotland, prompting him to recall the occasion in 1978 when a photographer persuaded him, Kenny Burns, Archie Gemmell and John Robertson to pose in kilts beneath the headline “We’re flying to Argentina.”

Only McGovern remained ground-side. “Ally MacLeod didn’t know I was Scottish,” he added.

Recording Haughton CC’s doubly successful season in the Darlington and District Cricket League, the column a fortnight back noted that the highlight of that evening’s presentations was still likely to be the pig racing – and no matter that they were squealing pot models.

Just back from Texas, former Shildon Railway stalwart John Brennan reports a variant unlikely to be approved over here.

At a rodeo in Waco, children aged 4-7 were fitted with crash helmets, placed on the back of large sheep and challenged to remain there as long as possible after the sheep were released.

It’s called Mutton Bustin’ – “the sport of the future,” John insists.

Frank Clark may be too modest by half, precisely half. The long serving former Newcastle United left back’s claim to just one goal in 458 league and cup appearances for the Magpies – repeated hereabouts a couple of weeks back after his talk-in at Crook Town – overlooked a perhaps secondary second.

It was December 3, 1973, Texaco Cup quarter-final – that is to say the second round, the Mags having seen off the mighty Morton in the first – against Birmingham City.

His email headed “The goal machine”, Ebac Northern League secretary Kevin Hewitt sends a YouTube link to the goal, and no matter that City keeper Dave Latchford seems so surprised that he forgets to move.

Clark admits as much in his book: “I think it was the fifth bobble which fooled him.”

United’s other two were scored by John Tudor – “crisp finishes,” says Kevin, another brace in the bag.

A couple of days later, at North Shields v West Auckland,, we bump into all-time Newcastle favourite Malcolm Macdonald, a man who scored rather more goals in black and white. Supermac’s unsurprised that goal totals sometimes don’t tally. “The club don’t count things like the Texaco Cup and Anglo-Scottish Cup,” he insists. “They say I scored 121 – it was really 138.”

Customary care notwithstanding, typos will intrude. The blog the other day had cause to mention the Sunderland and Scotland football legend Jim Vaxter, prompting a sympathetic email from former Shildon FC manager Ray Gowan, now in South Africa. He in turn had just had a financial statement signed First National Bonk.

….and finally, the only Premier League player in the last five seasons to have “won” more penalties that Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace (Backtrack, November 3) is Jamie Vardy of Leicester City.

One from Thornaby FC’s programme the other night: which British golfer first rose to prominence as an amateur in the 1998 Open in which he tied for fourth place?

By any other name, the column returns next week.