Long serving former West Auckland FC secretary Allen Bayles, perhaps better known to Backtrack readers as the Midnight Cowboy, has died. He was 71.

An impeccable administrator – “he knew the rule book off by heart,” says West general manager Stuart Alderson – Allen clearly discounted the Cinderella theory that at 12 o’clock he’d turn into a pumpkin.

That’s when he’d ring the Northern League chairman, anxious for a chat. That it was also closing time – that and a bit of what Co Durham folk call stoppy-backs – must be supposed coincidental.

When the league gave club secretaries laptops in 2005, most simply adapted their name into their email address. Allen’s became Midnight Cowboy.

When once he rang at 9.35pm, the surprise was so great that that got into the column, too – as it did when he became unstuck in a Kentish pub called the Treacle Mine. “I was all right until I stood up,” he protested.

Allen also made the league magazine after breaking ribs in a fall from the toilet. He insisted that he’d been standing on it, doing a bit of plumbing, but complications continued in casualty. “Unless you’re wearing a bra, I’ve got the wrong X-rays,” said the doctor.

He was a top bloke, a good mate and a wonderful football man. Allen’s funeral is at 12.15pm on Friday, August 30 at St Helen’s Auckland parish church.

Kevin Stonehouse’s funeral on Tuesday overflowed St John’s in Shildon, the church where he was married and where his children were baptised.

“It’s just nice to have a full house. At Ewood Park I think we drove them away,” said Derek Fazackerley, his former Blackburn Rovers teammate.

They’d been there in the 1970s, before Jack Walker’s millions, Kevin – Stoney, they called him – reluctantly sold for £30,000 to Huddersfield Town to help pay players’ wages and the gas board.

Others spoke as one of his kindness, his sense of humour, his willingness to help anyone. The Rev Peter Robson recalled a family holiday to the Dominican Republic in which the plane had hit serious problems – flight attendants screaming, oxygen masks lowered.

Kevin turned to Lynn, his wife. “Just take your socks off and have a fag,” he said.

He also played for Darlington, Blackpool and in the Northern League, became Darlington’s football in the community officer and was working as an international scout for Newcastle United – “as with playing, he’d have done it for nothing,” said Mr Robson – when he died suddenly, aged 59.

Instead of hymns they played songs by Paul Weller and Going Underground by The Jam, after which the family left for Shildon cemetery. Stoney, bless him, had chosen the last one himself.

Discussing the crisis at Bury, the Totally Football League Show podcast recalls Darlington FC “vanishing into a puff of George Reynolds’s hubris smoke.” Is that why he’s now selling e-cigs?

Double disappointment for our old friend Jonny Barnes and his mates in the Durham County over 50s cricket team: not only were they soundly beaten in Leicestershire in the last 16 of this season’s seniors trophy but the tea proved a bit lukewarm, too.

The game was at Newtown Linford, nationwide winner in 2015 of the Great Cricket Tea Challenge in which former England captain Mike Gatting – who looks like he’s enjoyed one or two – was chief judge.

“Gatting was bowled over,” said the Loughborough Echo, perhaps predictably, and particularly praised the venison sausages.

Jonny and friends were pretty much left with humble pie – “OK at best,” he reports, “and not a venison sausage in sight.”

Commendably trying to attract more spectators to their temporary home at Willington, Durham City FC last Saturday offered free confectionery at the gate – Maltesers a clear favourite. Sweets and sour, the 1-0 defeat to Billingham Synthonia means that in four completed games this season they’ve yet to gain a point or score a goal.

The last football match has been played on Peel Court, Burton, home in the 1890s to the Football League club Burton Swifts. Gary Brand, who was there, spots a North-East connection in the programme.

It tells the tale – as had most of the papers in November 2007 – of Neil Lowden, paroled from Durham Jail and playing for our old friends at Coundon Conservative Club when a robust tackle dislodged his ankle tag.

Though he at once telephoned the authorities, though it was replaced the same night, he was arrested the following day and spent Christmas back in Durham.

“Freedom in the bag for broken tag lag,” said one of the headlines when finally he was released in March.

Neil was from Consett, where doubtless he still dines out on the story. They remember in Burton-on-Trent, too.

For about the 20th successive summer, I’m invited to make the Crook and District Games League presentations, a particularly good night for the Australian – why the name? – at Howden-le-Wear.

Once Howden had at least four busy pubs and a workmen’s club. Now only the Oz survives. Even Crook WMC closes two nights a week.

They’re good lads, though the highlight may be the annual dominoes first-to-fiver with former England darts international Doug McCarthy, 77 last week and still hitting the odd 180. “I used to hit them like mekkin’ game,” he sighs.

It may be the biggest spectator sport in Crook since FA Amateur Cup days, though Doug’s having a bad trot. It’s fourth successive defeat, a challenge for double or quits on the darts board diplomatically declined.

….and finally, the last Scot to sign before Arsenal before Kieran Tierney (Backtrack, August 17) was Charlie Nicholas in 1983. Arnold Altron makes a good case for former Newcastle United goalkeeper Gordon Marshall’s son, Scott, but he came up through the Gunners’ ranks.

Readers are today invited to name the player who has scored for most Premier League clubs – at least one of them in the North-East. The column returns next week.