COUNTY DURHAM’S final grassroots adult Saturday football league is on the brink of collapse because of its dwindling number of teams.

Next Tuesday, the Crook and District League will meet at Crook Cricket Club to discuss the future of the league. Unless there are new teams coming forward ahead of the start of next season, the league will fold.

Formed in 1956, the Crook and District League is the last remaining grassroots adult football league playing on a Saturday afternoon anywhere in County Durham.

In its heyday, the league could boast almost 30 teams – now, 68 years on, it finds itself trying to survive with just six teams.

“We have reached the absolute minimum number” said the league’s vice-chairman and treasurer, Clement O’Donovan, who attended his first league meeting in the mid 1970s.

O’Donovan, who is also the chairman of Stanhope Town Sports and Social Club, a team that will celebrate its 50th anniversary in the league this year, has battled hard to try to keep the league going, but accepts the end could be nigh unless there is new interest.

The league have issued a rallying call in an attempt to secure some new sides for next season.

“If there are any groups out there aged 16 plus who want to keep the rich tradition of local football going on a Saturday afternoon, then I’d urge them to contact me at Stanhope Sports and Social Club,” added O’Donovan.

“Adult grassroots football has so much to offer a community and has the potential to bring much-needed finances to revitalise local organisations. Winning games is always welcome, but wellbeing from taking part is just as good and perhaps even more so.”

In 1957, Bankfoot Sports Club from Crook lifted the league trophy for the first and only time – this year, Middlestone Moor reigned supreme, not only winning the league but also the County Cup for grassroots teams.