THE Quakers' finest hour, Darlington 4 Chelsea 1, was 50 years ago today. The cuttings, the programmes, the photographs, the whole pinch-yourself euphoria of it all still overflow the table in Ronnie and Margaret Greener's conservatory.

"Chelsea wear the cap and bells," said the Daily Mail, "the Cup clowns of 1958."

Ron Greener, the club's majestic centre half, skipper and record appearance maker, is still in Darlington. "I thought if I got all the papers out, I wouldn't have to talk about it too much," he says with accustomed modesty.

"I suppose you could say I never really get tired of looking at this lot."

Darlington, familiarly, were near the bottom of the Third Division (North). Chelsea, drawn at home in the FA Cup fourth round, were mid-table in the old first division.

They laughed at Stamford Bridge when Feethams officials brought down tickets for the replay. Reg Matthews, the Chelsea goalkeeper, had cost five times more than Darlington's team put together. Darlington, including six part-timers, had been put together for £4,000.

Darlington led 3-0, a Chelsea side which included the young Jimmy Greaves - who three times hit the post - fighting back to 3-3. They needed the replay tickets after all.

"We were all really disappointed when we came off the field," recalls Ron, 74 on Thursday. "Dickie Duckworth, the manager, saw our reaction and said it was the best result we could have had, that we'd got them back to our place and that we could beat them in front of our own supporters. How right he was."

Though the replay kicked off at 2pm the following Wednesday, more than 15,000 filled Feethams, paying £1,999.

Some had leave, many just left.

Among the few seemingly not playing hookey was Margaret Greener, who taught at a school in Shotton Colliery, Co Durham.

"The head wouldn't let me have the afternoon off," she recalls.

"Some of the male staff had got their hands on a radio and kept telling me the score. In the end, I really thought they must be joking."

RON was an Easington Colliery lad, a £7 a week blacksmith at the pit. The mine, says Margaret, was a bit drastic in those days.

"I could have played full-time but they said if I stayed down the pit I wouldn't have to do national service," says Ron. "It wasn't that I was afraid of going to war, I'd have done that, but it was better than marching around a parade ground."

He made three Football League appearances for Newcastle United, 442 for Darlington in a total of just over 500 first team games. None of them compared with Chelsea.

They've a grainy video of the game, too. "The crowd behind the goal were absolutely great.

There was one baldy headed feller, I've never seen anyone so happy in my life," says Ron.

The baldy headed feller may not have been alone. Police had sensibly not opposed emergency applications for post-match drinking in the Falchion and the County, nearby pubs. "We anticipate there will be a lot of hoarse throats," Inspector J C Dowse had presciently told the magistrates.

Darlington's side was: Turner, Green, Henderson; Furphy, Greener, Rutherford; Carr, Milner, Harbertson, Bell, Moran.

Chelsea's still-favoured side was: Matthews, Sillett, McFarlane; Casey, Mortimer, Saunders; Brabrook, McNichol, Tindall, Stubbs, Lewis. Jimmy Greaves had been dropped.

The programme advertised familiar old Darlington names like Winterschladen's, Bainbridge Barker's and Alan Brown, "the smoker's friend."

A special train from Bishop Auckland cost 2/8d, return.

The Echo reported on its front page that Peter Manuel had been arrested in Glasgow for the murder of Newcastle taxi driver Sydney Dunn at Edmundbyers, that Durham FA had considered the case of referee L B Chambers, attacked by spectators after the Durham City v Stanley United match and that a Japanese submarine had been welcomed into Pearl Harbour.

Ron Greener, contacted recently by a chap writing a book on football's 50 biggest banana skins, remembers only the match and its aftermath.

"He asked me if we were lucky, but how can 4-1 be lucky? We were quicker into the tackle, every ball. I just think we wanted it more than they did.

"We weren't lucky to draw 3- 3 at their place, either. We really should have beaten them."

DARLINGTON had hoped to play the same team as at Chelsea, an injury to Keith Morton - still up Lanchester way - bringing in the Scotsman Tommy Moran on the left wing.

Moran put Darlington ahead after 35 minutes, John McNichol equalising three minutes later. After 90 minutes it was still 1-1. "The first division side's superior skill, stamina and fitness will be crucial in extra-time," said the man on the Light Programme, and couldn't have been more seriously mistaken.

Moran, Wheatley Hill pit bricklayer Dave Carr and centre forward Ron Harbertson scored three in five minutes. The Express talked of Darlington pensioning off Chelsea, the Mail recalled - as had the programme - that it was Chelsea's last-minute goal in the final game of 1926-27 which had ended Quakers' two-year sojourn in the second division.

Darneton in The Northern Echo wrote it as it was: "In the whole history of the club, there has been nothing like the scenes at the end of the game."

Margaret Greener recalls coming across Dick Duckworth, the Yorkshire-born manager who'd kicked around the lower leagues before joining Darlington. "He was just standing in a corridor, crying."

THE photographs on the Greeners' conservatory table include the team, ten of them anyway, plunged ecstatically in the communal bath. Some are drinking what may or not have been mineral water; several have cigarettes in their hands.

First, says Ron, they'd have had to chase out the rats.

"They were terrible, you could tell when they'd been in because the soap was all nibbled away. If we'd been out training, we had to kick the door first to chase them.

"Dickie Deacon, the trainer, was also the rat catcher and the only man who could light the boiler. Professional football wasn't much like what it is today."

He and the late Brian Henderson, the team's third highest appearance maker - John Peverell separates the old friends - were the heaviest smokers. "We'd light up from the moment we got on the bus to the moment we got off.

"When you think I was down the pit as well and played more than 500 matches, I must have been doing something right,"

says Ron though he himself has had a quadruple heart bypass, a knee replacement and fought several other health problems. He's been a bit unlucky," says his wife.

Still he attends every home game with former team-mate Bob Sharpe, still can't go shopping without being stopped to talk about football, still enjoys his mural on the wall of the new stadium.

"I think they have a good side, that they can go up and stay up but I have to admit that Coca-Cola League Two sounds a lot better than the fourth division, anyway."

Nothing, so far as he knows, has been planned to mark the great jubilee. "There was talk of it, even talk of bringing Jimmy Greaves up, but I gather he's more of a rugby man now.

"It would have been nice, but it doesn't matter. I still have all those memories."


Were you at Feethams 50 years ago today? What are your memories of the greatest FA Cup moment in Quakers' history?

Email your memories to:, write to Sports Desk, The Northern Echo, Priestgate, Darlington, Co. Durham, DL1 1NF or go to


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