GORDON Galley started to write a book, abandoned it for reasons of failing eyesight, tells a cracking tale, nonetheless.

Gordon's 80, really only wanted to identify some of his old Darlington team mates from a line-up sixty years ago, familiar then as now in black-and-white hoops.

Get him going, however, and he ranges from fifties Feethams to a policeman's lot.

"Well, " he says inarguably, "it's good to reminisce."

He was one of three Nottinghamshire-born brothers to appear in the Football League, but only distantly related to Tom Galley of Wo lves who played twice for England in 1937.

He'd signed for Sheffield Wednesday at 15, earned £3 a week, became a pro at 17, did National Service at Catterick and was spotted there by someone from Darlington. He joined in 1948.

"They paid £8 a week and that was good money, " Gordon recalls. "I was rich.

There was a maximum wage, Stanley Matthews only got £2 more than I did."

He played under three managers - Bill Forrest, George Irwin and the great Bobby Gurney - scored 12 goals in 62 appearances, got his picture on the front of the programme, reckons it the time of his life.

"We had Sunday and Monday off, seemed to spend a lot of the rest of the time playing golf at Harrowgate golf club or snooker at the Mechanics Institute.

"Today's players do more proper fitness work in the warm-up than we did all week. When we did any, it was only running round the cricket field or kicking a ball about. It didn't matter if you were ten stones of 15 stones, it was just the same.

"Before the game you'd put your boots on, kick the wall, tie them up and go out. Maybe there'd be three minutes shooting in. That was it" The "trainer", he of bucket and towel, was Dickie Deacon, a Darlington legend. "Lovely man, he seemed to do everything round the club, " says Gordon and were it not for Dickie, it's recalled, the resident rat population might have been rather higher, too.

Mind, Dickie's medical skills proved lacking the day that Gordon skidded on the wet grass, his progress abruptly arrested by a concrete fence post.

"My leg was gashed wide open below the knee. You didn't roll round screaming in those days and Dickie just told me to get on with it.

When I went to the hospital afterwards, they said I was lucky not to have lost my leg."

It was also in Darlington that Gordon met his late wife - in the Green Tree cafe, like so many more - where they danced at the Baths Hall, where they happily married.

When the club declined to up his wages, however, he asked to go on the transfer list. Darlington demanded £1,000. When none made the grand gesture, he decided to join the police.

"Things were different then. The police in those days always wanted bandsmen, cricketers and footballers.

Durham and Grimsby both offered me a job because they needed an outside left."

He opted for Durham, sat the entrance exam at Darlington police station, couldn't answer the questions and was pretty relieved when the chap alongside answered them for him.

They sent him on a 13-week training course - "law, all that sort of thing" - but still time to play tennis with the commandment. "That's how I got through that one as well, " he freely admits.

"I enjoyed the police force, they were very good to me.

They said I could have any job I wanted, but we still spent a lot of time playing football."

He was posted to Easington Colliery, an east Durham mining community still recovering from the pit disaster of May 1951 which claimed the lives of 81 men and boys.

"It was a very nice village.

They were heavy drinkers and they were good scrappers, but they were fair. The policeman got treated like the vicar and the doctor, lots of gifts. They even put coals in your coal house. It was corruption, really, it couldn't happen today."

He joined the road traffic division, found himself driven to distraction, became for 10 years an instructor in the dog section at Harperley Hall, near Crook. The gaffer said he could do anything, he says, so long as he kept tearing down the left wing.

Now he's back in Nottingham, works voluntarily for a motor neurone disease charity - his wife died from the disease seven years ago - would love toput some names to those faces. "It's a shame, " says Gordon. "I really should have written that book."