AROUND here he’s remembered, a little inaccurately, as the last man to take Darlington into the Conference.

Twenty years later, Dave Booth has just been named manager of the year – in India. There are ructions about that, too. Mumbai, his team, were just seventh in the I-League.

“Next season I’ll aim for seventh. That way I’ll be the best coach around,” said Karim Bencherifa, manager of treble winners Mohun Bagan.

The two men are reckoned to have history, as they say. “I told him if he needs the award so badly, I’ll post it to him,” Booth, 61, told an Indian website.

“He went around telling people that he must finish seventh to win the best coach award. I told him to speak to me. He said he never said anything and I called him a liar. For me the team is more important than any glory.”

In England the only thing he ever won was the Lincolnshire Senior Cup when manager of Grimsby Town. More exotic yet, there are those who swear they’ve recently seen him in a VW Golf commercial.

Bencherifa, a Moroccan, blames the animosity on an earlier game between the two sides. “I bear no grudges against David Booth,” he said.

The website also recalls an earlier game between the two sides, Indian clubs if not quite pistols at dawn. “The two managers were seen hurling the choicest of words,” it adds.

DAVE Booth, a full back with Barnsley and Grimsby, became Darlington’s manager three games before the end of season 1986-87, the Quakers already doomed to relegation from the old third division.

He succeeded Cyril Knowles and 23-year-old caretaker boss Paul Ward, a Trimdon lad – whatever happened to him? – who had become the league’s youngest-ever manager.

The following season, the Quakers finished 13th in a fourth division that included three teams now playing in the Premiership.

By February 11 1989, when they lost 3-1 to Leyton Orient at Feethams, the team had failed to win a home game and registered only two away victories.

“It was more exciting watching what little bit you could see of the hockey on the adjacent cricket pitch,”

wrote an Echo columnist.

Booth was sacked the following day, replaced by Brian Little who won six out of the last 19 but couldn’t save them from the drop into non-league football.

“Fairly or unfairly, he’s still remembered as the man who took us down,” says Quakers’ historian Frank Tweddle. “It was no surprise at all when he was sacked.”

Booth, a west Yorkshireman, managed the Brunei national team before coming to Mumbai. “He must be a saviour,” says Frank Tweddle. “What a pity it took him so long.”

IT’S impossible to mention Mohun Bagan, of course, without thinking of Crook Town, beer, brothels and Bobby Charlton.

The brothel was a taxi driver’s misunderstanding.

Bobby Charlton promised to be a guest player, cried off two days before they left, wouldn’t even fly to Calcutta to meet the crowds, though they offered him £1,000 to do so.

Back in the 1970s, Crook’s medical officer was Dr Arun Banerjee, a local GP who – like his father – had played for Mohun Bagan and who retained connections with the club.

In 1976 he arranged a tour – inevitably dubbed an Indian summer, though it was still just May – during which 500,000 watched Crook’s six games. Two of them were against Mohun Bagan, reckoned the sub-continent’s answer to Manchester United.

“People had walked for days through the mountains just to see us. We were superstars for two weeks,”

recalled former Middlesbrough full back Gordon Jones, then Crook’s manager.

“If we’d been Manchester United themselves, we couldn’t have had a more ecstatic reception,” said Charlie Gott, the captain.

They’d run out to the theme tune from Hawaii Five- 0. No one quite knew why.

A quarter of a century later, Steve Chaytor wrote and published a lovely book about it all called Can You Get Bobby Charlton?

“It was a magic carpet ride, the most improbable passage to Indian since Neddy Seagoon pitched up in Darjeeling,” the column observed at the time.

Retired but still in Crook, Dr Banerjee remembers it well. He’s still a regular visitor to Calcutta, and to the club. “They’re still the blue riband club, still send me special tickets whenever I go,” says Dr Banarjee.

“If they lose, everybody cries. It’s a very sentimental club. I cry, too. I might be a fool, but I can’t help it.”

And Karim Bencherifa? “I know him, he is a very nice man. I don’t know David Booth, but Karim won the treble. He’s the real manager of the year.”

STEVE Chaytor had earlier written One Dead Ref and a Box of Kippers, a delightful collection of potted biographies of men from the former Sedgefield borough area who’d played in the Football League.

One of them was his dad, Ken – another Trimdon lad – who in 1955 for Oldham Athletic became the youngest player to score a Football League hat-trick. He was 17 years and 72 days old and the record stood for 15 years, beaten by Trevor Francis.

The third book has taken a little longer, though he’s contemplating something to mark this year’s 25th anniversary of Trimdon CCA Cricket Club, they of the nether reaches of the Darlington and District League, for whom he played.

“We played mostly on beer,” Steve recalls. “It was our twelfth man and quite often it got into the first team. Amazingly, we won the league.”

Neatly, the working title is Kings of the Cool Box. So far, however, writer’s block prevails “I’m thinking of just releasing the cover,”

says Steve.

Northern League gets a week in the limelight – give it a go

IT’S been one of those media tart weeks – 5 Live on Thursday afternoon, BBC Tees yesterday dawning, Look North last night.

The broadcast of thousands was to help promote the skilltrainingltd Northern League’s Just Give it a Go initiative, officially to be launched by the magnificent Steve Harmison at Ashington this afternoon.

Look North and 5 Live both assiduously interviewed folk at the Billingham derby on Tuesday evening, the home dressing room bowdlerised for the occasion.

“If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard people talk about proper football, I could probably retire,” said Anna Foster, she of the famous 5.

She’d have made a few bob, too, if counting the number of people who said that they had a face for radio.

Thursday was the Gabby Logan show, a live input from somewhere near the turnstile at Darlington RA’s ground in Brinkburn Road.

The BBC likes to do locations – adds atmosphere, they say – even when it’s radio.

“It’ll pick up the surrounding noise,” said Anna, a nice and highly professional lady.

Then London asked her to turn the microphone up. “We can’t hear Mike for the traffic,”

they said.

They gave us half an hour, somewhere between Gordon Brown and an item about a Tesco stores in Wales that’s banned shoppers who wear pyjamas.

The “pyjama endemic”, as the presenter called it, appeared to create rather more interest than the poor old Prime Minister. A chap from Thornaby texted to say that he’d even seen someone signing on in his pyjamas. “It doesn’t show much inclination to work,” said Gabby.

Anna, inevitably, talked of how Billingham Synthonia came by their name. Steve Harmison, recorded in advance, spoke of his days as Ashington’s centre half and of how he’d really rather have been a lower league footballer than a great quickie who’d taken 240 wickets in 60 tests.

You simply couldn’t buy publicity like that. As for the Northern League, best do what it says on the packet.

Just give it a go.

SIR John Burn being unavailable, and Bulldog Billy Teesdale not having had for ages his feet beneath this particular table, I was again asked to present the awards on Thursday evening at Evenwood Cricket Club’s annual do.

They’re great lads, even the rough-haired Bulldog, though it gets no easier – ask anyone – to run a community sports club.

The better-days pavilion doesn’t even have electricity any more. “I wouldn’t keep a dog in there,” said Billy.

“The council’s going to love you saying that,” I replied.

“Then put it in the paper,”

said Billy.

The seniors had won a cup at Sacriston, the under-15s had been unbeaten all season and still not won the league and Matthew McConnell went home with more trophies than it seemed possible for one man to carry.

Thereafter the conversation turned nostalgically to the Durham County League “Psycho X1” named over a few beers at Ushaw Moor in the 1970s and containing some forensically formidable faces.

Bulldog Billy’s still mad at them for only making him vice-captain. On Thursday he drank water, announced that he was going to be a vicar.

And the Church thought it had problems already.

HARRY Sharratt, the late and legendary Bishop Auckland goalkeeper, has affectionately been remembered a couple of times recently – not least for conducting some of his maths lessons in song.

A colleague clearing out her desk now discovers this rather neat but uncredited cartoon, recalling one of the old lad’s most eccentric moments of all.

Harry, said the caption, was often under-employed. Against Kingstonian, it’s said, he stood his distance to let the visitors score three consolations – after Bishops had taken a 12-0 lead.

The most recounted story of all, 18-Sharratt gold, may be the snowman on the goal line – or as the caption has it, the penalty spot. The snowman may long have melted, but Harry’s reputation is frozen in time.

...and finally

TUESDAY’S column sought the identity of the three “youngest” Premiership clubs in terms of their formation.

They are Wigan Athletic (1922), Chelsea (1905) and Hull City (1904). Stoke City is the oldest.

Today’s piece on former Darlington manager David Booth mentions that in 1987- 88, three teams now in the Premiership were in the old fourth division. Readers are invited to identify them.

The column returns on Tuesday.