LAST week’s column on 60s centre forward Bill Hopper recalled the illuminating Wednesday night in Blackpool when his goal helped Darlington to a 2-1 League Cup victory over s first division side including four England internationals.

George McGeachie scored the other.

So what, asks Bob Bacon, in Wolviston, near Billingham, of George McGeachie? He declares an interest.

A Falkirk bairn originally, McGeachie was a science graduate who spent seven part-time years with Dundee before moving south to ICI Billingham. Quakers snapped him up for a fee said to be “considerably less than £4,000.”

He made 135 senior appearances, mainly on the left wing and had scored ten goals before a serious cartilage injury in a match against Gillingham.

An operation followed at the Duchess of Kent Military Hospital in Catterick, George pictured chatting the following day with a smiley lieutenant nurse in full fig. Despite further consultations with a Harley Street surgeon, he never played and seldom watched, again. Darlington organised a testimonial against Norwich City.

He became manager of the ICI nylon plant in Wilton, Redcar, and was thus Bob Bacon’s gaffer. He was last heard of back in Scotland.

So obvious were his knackered knees, says Bob, that the boss was known as Creaky McGeachie – “though not, of course, to his face”.

SPEAKING of former Quaker favourites, a note from Mike Rudd in Bishop Auckland advises of another sporting triumph for Lee Ellison – on the pool table.

Mike organises an annual tournament at the Kings Head in Bishop in memory of his friend Alan Musgrave, who died five years ago when he was only 49.

Last Saturday’s event raised £600 for Alan’s wife Judith’s chosen charity, ward 16 at Bishop Auckland General Hospital, where she works. Mike wants to thank all who supported it in any way.

Lee, 41, scored 22 goals in 115 senior appearances for Darlington and one in three on loan at Hartlepool. At pool he beat Mike himself in the final.

NEIL Fissler, writing a book about Workington, saw the piece on Bill Hopper – himself a former Red – and contacted him. He’s also trying to find Peter Watson, whose career also included Ashington and North Shields and who was at the last match at Shields’ much loved Appleby Park ground. Can anyone point him in the right direction?

Last Thursday’s column also recorded the death, aged 104 of Shildon lad Bob Murton – playing bowls at 100 and thus, we reckoned, the country’s oldest active sportsman.

His daughter Jenifer wonders if he might have been the Echo’s most loyal reader – every day since the 1930s until he became ill in December.

Martin Birtle spots a piece in Down Your Way, a Yorkshire nostalgia magazine, about Linda Wilkes, nee Staveley, who’s in Leeds and, at 101, still going well despite smoking until she was 60 and giving up only after a budget increase.

Linda, by happy coincidence, was a Shildon lass, too – and, like all the best people, went to Timothy Hackworth school. They made them tough at Tin Tacks.

THE report a few weeks ago on the demise of the North-East’s last Saturday night Pink reminded former Bishop Auckland FC secretary Tony Duffy of classically happy days at University College, Cork between 1968 and 1971.

Though his mum would faithfully send the Sports Despatch – “the Bishops were very close to my heart, even then” – the problem was that it would sometimes arrive ten days late and be the first edition, with only the half-time scores.

Tony also admits to some strange looks in the academic reading room – “the venerated aula maxima” – stacked with shelves of great learning.

“At least once a week the works of Ovid, Pliny and Catullus took second place to the Northern League reports in the Sports Despatch Pink.”

NOT quite an emergency, but John Sisley is in a hurry to point out that, until their defeat last Tuesday, Metropolitan Police FC – Ryman League division one – had won nine, drawn nine and lost nine. “I’m rather disappointed it ended,” he says.

DAVID Carter, one of the Backtrack irregulars who now seems to divide his time between Middlesbrough and the Isle of Man, reports that the inaugural meeting of the Manx branch of the Boro Supporters Club will be held at the Victoria Tavern in Douglas on February 22, before the televised match with Leeds United.

“I went to school with the landlord, a Spurs fan,” he says.

For David there’s a slight clash of interests, however. The Glenfaba Chorale, with whom he sings, has a Salvation Army charity event that evening. Drink will therefore not be taken, he insists – “Well, possibly just a pint of Okell’s, anyway”.

...and finally, the North-East football referee whose autobiography was called One Night at the Palace (Backtrack, February 6) was, of course, Alan Wilkie – the title a reference to M.

Cantona’s kung fu fight-in.

David Carter recalls a headline when Gerry Queen grabbed a goal at Selhurst Palace – 24 in 108 Eagles’ appearances between 1969- 72 – but prefers to leave it to the imagination.

Readers are today invited to recall why the match between QPR and Leicester was briefly halted last December.

Non-stop, and with luck from the Railroad to Wembley, the column returns next Thursday.