Old scores and wicket ways, Crook's cricketers were happily, almost rapturously, reunited on Friday night.

There was talk of the late and much lamented Andrew Lyght, of Adrian Dunn's six wickets in an over - castled, every man jack - of Jackie Ayre, faster off three paces than Fiery Fred off 30 and of Ikey Longhorn, who stood up to him.

The column's old friend Ian "Boss Hogg" Hawley, a rather less supple wicket-keeper, was also present. "I didn't even stand up for the Queen," he said.

More than anything, however, they seemed to recall Paul Hibbert, an Australian pro with Burnmoor, who hit a six onto the fire station roof, or into the beck or first-bounce to Stanley Hill Top, depending on the recollection and the recollector.

These things, of course, travel further on time's wings.

"It was stunning," said Ikey. "Out of this world, never mind out of the ground."

Described on the Cricinfo website as "Tall, dark and stodgy" - not even handsome - the fiery Mr Hibbert may not always so spectacularly have set cricket alight.

In his only Test match, against India in 1977, he scored a 77-ball 13, a rather briefer two and wasn't called upon to bowl. In first class cricket he averaged 38.62 and claimed 15 wickets at 19 apiece.

Most extraordinarily of all, however, the man who stotted the fire station roof is one of only two cricketers - the other Derbyshire's Alan Hill, plod almighty - to have hit a first class hundred without the ball ever once crossing the boundary.

Crook Town Cricket Club was formed in 1875. Alan Stewart, the present fixtures secretary, clutched an 1878 team photograph - a laid-back looking lot - but regretted that none was likely to make the reunion.

Others went quite a way back, nonetheless. Eli Ord had taken 10-60, for the seconds, though it wasn't as good as his 10-6 against North Bitchburn. Eli was slow left arm - "better than him that's with England now," he said, and meant Mr Panesar.

Jackie Ayre, fastest man they'd ever seen and among the tallest, too, had in 1960 claimed 138 victims at 8.7, though former team mate Ian Hopkinson still wasn't entirely happy.

"Jack's only trouble was that he was too much of a gentleman," he said. "He'd never appeal, for fear he upset the batsman's concentration."

Phenomenally successful until recent years, Crook had five successive seasons in the 1980s in which they never lost a league match and precious few in cup cricket's cornucopia, either. Though they last won the Durham County League in 1992,. Said Alan Stewart, they still had twice as many titles as any other club.

Other once-familiar faces included Billy Whithorn, Lloyd Conway, John Gregory, Colin Robson, Gary Purcell, Bomber Smith and the unrelated Doug and Keith Hopper.

Doug has once taken 5-0 against Newton Aycliffe. "I think I got lucky," he said, mellowed with age. "I'd never have admitted it at the time."

Adrian Dunn's now 51, umpire and club secretary. His finest five minutes came 33 years ago, the feat reported everywhere from Coal News to Test Match Special.

It happened against Ferryhill based Dean and Chapter, May 18 1974, at a time when he looked young enough to have played in the under-11s. He could still get in the under-18s.

He also appeared on a television show called A Likely Story - hosted by Mike Neville and a bit like What's My Line - in which the panel had to guess the contestant's claim to fame.

Grandstand presenter Frank Bough, once an apprentice at ICI Billingham, asked if his achievement had made the front pages of the local newspapers.

"No, but it was all over the back," said Adrian and at once realised that, as well as winning it, he'd given the game away.

No absent friend was more affectionately toasted than Andrew Lyght, a man of whom it was said that he came from Guyana but he belonged Crook.

The most engaging of men, in six seasons with the south-west Durham club he hit 12,036 runs at 50.28 and took 467 wickets at an average 14.17.

His Wisden obituary, framed alongside his career record, recalled his 15-year fight against cancer before his death, aged just 44, in April 2001.

It was while in Newcastle General Hospital that Andy believed he heard God speaking to him, claimed a miracle cure and gave up his hitherto high-living ways to become a Christian.

Former Durham County League professional David Nevins recalled, however, that the truly refulgent Mr Lyght was originally just Crook's second choice.

Then professional at Peterlee, David had been approached by Crook secretary Roy Coates to join them the following season. Roy asked him to write down what he earned at Peterlee and promised to match it.

David duly recorded what amounted to a pay slip. "Bloody hell," said the secretary, "we could get a West Indian for that."

The rest is North-East cricket history. Friday's reunion - "a fantastic occasion," said Crook chairman David Greener- will go down that way, too.

Billingham Town's programme last week asked which Wembley showpiece became known as the Dustbin Final. If the question puzzled Martin Birtle, he was little wiser after learning the answer - Wolves 3 Blackburn Rovers 0, FA Cup final, 1960.

Rovers fans, angered by an apparently dubious goal and by Dave Whelan's first-half broken leg - he still got ahead pretty quickly thereafter - pelted Wanderers manager Stan Cullis and his team with orange peel, apple cores and plastic cups as they left the field.

The Echo called it "a deplorable display of bad manners"; perhaps Blackburn simply thought it a rubbish decision.

The Billy Town programme, however, demurely declined to identify the local link - the referee was Billingham lad Kevin Howley, at 34 still the youngest man to take charge of an FA Cup final.

Kevin - wonderful character, very much his own man - didn't drive, wouldn't install a telephone ("you buggers would be ringing me at three o'clock in the morning") and was suspended for ten weeks in 1970 after once too often criticising Football League bureaucracy.

Never much of a player - "I couldn't kick a door if I was sitting on the bloody latch" - he took up refereeing in the royal navy, and then really began to see the world.

A reluctant red carder, he still earned enormous respect. "When I cautioned the buggers they stayed cautioned," he'd explain.

He'd been a linesman in the 1966 World Cup, refereed the Spurs v Arsenal game in 1971 which ensured the Gunners the first leg of the double, was senior linesman in the European Cup final later in May.

In later life Kevin spent much of his time contentedly in the Cons Club in Billingham which is where we last saw him before his death in 1997.

"I don't think anyone will ever beat my record, but I very much hope that they will," he said.

You wouldn't bet against it now. Up on Tyneside, young Mark Clattenburg is still just 32.

Several readers not only knew the answer to Friday's question - the identity of the south Durham born full back who made his second and last Darlington appearance in the record 10-0 defeat at Doncaster - but knew the gentleman in question.

It was John Heaviside, Ferryhill lad, January 25 1965. "Doncaster won the toss and batted first, Darlington didn't get an innings," began Bob James's Echo report memorably.

Goalkeeper Chris Penman, 19, was said to have endured a "living nightmare", Scottish winger George McGeachie a "horrible debut".

Former England amateur international George Brown remembers playing against Heaviside as an amateur, observing as he took the pall past him that he was too slow for the Northern League

A few minutes later, John had knocked him into a fence post. "You're not so fast now, either," he said.

"John was a great lad," adds George, by way of clarification.

A splendid question today from former Etherley cricketer David Wilson - the man who wrote "Franklin" the incomparable club history - but who now lives and works in France.

David invites readers to name an Englishman, Scotsman, Welshman and Irishman who've each played for three clubs who've won the European Cup/Champions League but who haven't a winner's medal between them.

Some you win, the column returns on Friday.