MYOPICALLY handicapped, we’re stumbling around the 19th at Bishop Auckland Golf Club when asked if we’re there for the 125th anniversary. It’s not the case.

The inaugural meeting, it transpires – with thanks to Dick Longstaff’s splendid centenary history – was held on July 28, 1894, four of the eight-member committee doctors.

The first three captains were medical men, too, though for health reasons they usually played under assumed names. Publicity would have been considered “unseemly” to their calling.

Dick’s history carried a foreword by club president Dr David Jenkins, then the Bishop of Durham, his doctorate philosophical. Since they were pretty much next-door neighbours, the bishops have always been club president, though Dr Jenkins admitted that he’d never set foot in the place.

“It has to be confessed that my interest lies in birdies in the scrub and the trees rather than in birdies on the course,” he wrote.

The anniversary’s shared with golf clubs in Saltburn and Bedale while Crook Golf Club, memory murmurs, marks its centenary any day now. More on Bishop in July.

T’other side of Bishop, a few nights later, we’re at the football club for a talk-in with Roy Cavanagh – now officially a club ambassador – and Alan Tonge.

Roy’s Manchester United’s prolific historian. His next book’s on the swinging sixties, first footing on January 2, 1960 with the 7-3 defeat at Newcastle, the heaviest of Sir Matt Busby’s tenure.

Len White hit a hat-trick, the others from Ivor Alchurch, Gordon Hughes, Jackie Bell – Evenwood lad, was he not? – and a George Eastham penalty. 57,200 continued the New Year celebration.

Alan reckons to have been the first player signed for Man United by Sir Alex Ferguson – Viv Anderson might not agree – though he never made the first team before signing (“undisclosed fee”) for Exeter City.

Grecian 1990, as football folk might say.

Retired at 24 with back problems – surgical metalwork still in situ but with a bit more beef to support – he’s now a sports psychology lecturer, has two degrees and is working on a doctorate.

Roy also paid tribute to Derek Lewin, the Bishops’ star of the 1950s whose funeral we reported last week. Among Derek’s many celebrity friends, said Roy, was the racing driver Stirling Moss.

One day they were driving together, Derek at the wheel, when pulled over by the polliss for speeding. “Who do you think you are, sir, Stirling \Moss?” demanded the young polliss.

“Well I’m not,” said Derek, “but that bloke….”

Beneath the heading “Important news”, the Durham Amateur Football Trust’s newsletter urges that those writing cheques to that splendid organisation in future use its full name. Anyone employing the familiar acronym DAFT, says the bank – nameless and humourless – will have the cheque swiftly returned whence it came. DAFT as a brush-off, alas.

Tim Bostock, Durham County Cricket Club’s newish chief executive, spoke the other night to a meeting of the county branch of the Association of Cricket Officials – “one of the most enthusiastic men I’ve ever heard,” says one who was there.

Not everything went smoothly, however. A member expressing disquiet at the appointment of disgraced Aussie ball tamperer Cameron Bancroft as county captain.

One of the coaches, said the complainant, has once also been banned by the Durham Cricket League. “What next,” he demanded, “George Reynolds as county chairman?”

Apparently to some relief, Mr Bostock thought it unlikely.

Good news with which to herald a new season, cricket’s returning to Ingleton – between Darlington and Barnard Castle – after a nine-year hiatus.

King James CC, formerly Bishop Auckland-based, will play home Darlington and District League matches there after much fund raising, restoration and support from the parish council.

The first game’s on Sunday, April14 against a village invitation X1, the first league fixture against Middleton Tyas the following Saturday. More of that later.

Esh Winning FC play in Waterhouses, a mile west, where last Wednesday there was something of a culture clash. The footballers hosted Durham City, the village hall film club showed Bohemian Rhapsody and both with a 7.30pm kick-off.

“I don’t think we’re aiming at the same demographic,” said football club chairman Charlie Ryan, diplomatically.

Those who preferred to be out in the cold – and Waterhouses was almost icy – included two old friends from the column’s earliest days, Bobby Orton and Graeme Forster, aka The Doc.

Formerly manager of Hamsteels FC in the Durham and District League, Graeme graduated to Evenwood Town, West Auckland and Tow Law in the Northern League and managed a PhD in metallurgy, too.

He’s now 59, has sold his business, still specialises in something called anti-macrobiotic resistance, in which toilet seats are a key field.

So can you – you know – catch things that way? “No,” said The Doc emphatically, “you can’t”

Bobby’s 62, a familiar club cricketer across Co Durham but retired through age and injury a few years ago. Now he’s back, turned out for Mainsforth last season, bagged around 25 wickets. “Shares in Deep Heat and Algipan went through the roof,” he said.

He hopes for a first team place this summer but first must convince the skipper – his son Tom, who’s also Esh Winning’s goalie. “I’d be happy in the seconds. The great thing is that I still love it,” said Bob.

The crowd was 71 and all quite happy. Whether the village hall was similarly rhapsodic is not, alas, recorded.

The signature “Bill Fisher, Spennymoor” is now greatly familiar in Hear All Sides, his contributions usually about B****t. He’s also written 45 letters to Helen Goodman, his MP – “though ten have been about Corbyn so they don’t count.”

Around the Ebac Northern League, however, Bill’s better known as an official of Brandon United for the best part of 50 years, last Saturday at his paybox post as usual.

While the receipt of custom at Brandon may not these days be onerous – Saturday’s gate was 46 – Bill’s done a wonderful job in helping keep the club alive. He retires at season’s end.

More time to write letters? “You’ve not heard the last of me,” he says.

Back on August 11, we reported Spennymoor town mayor Clive Maddison’s decision to make the town’s boxing academy his chosen charity – and to boost funds with a six-minute mile.

“When you’re mayor that means anything up to 6 minutes 59 seconds,” insisted Clive, veteran of more than 100 half marathons.

Now, however, the 64-year-old mayor fears he’ll be unable to beat the clock. “I just haven’t had time to train, I never realised being mayor would be so time consuming. I’m running just to stand still,” he says.

The boxing academy may shortly find themselves big winners, nonetheless.

….and finally

What was unique about the cricket season beginning on March 26 (last week’s column) was that it’s the first time that it’s started before British Summer Time has.

Readers may today care to identify the team which has spent longest in English football’s top flight without ever winning the thing.

Jocked off its accustomed acres by a horse race, the column opens wide again in a fortnight.