Northern League Day Fixture: West Auckland Town vs Norton & Stockton Ancients
Before Spain’s tikka takka there was Zidane’s headbutt, Gazza’s tears and Maradona’s hand. Before that came Paolo Rossi and North Korea, Cruyff’s turn, Banks’s save and Bobby Moore with the Jules Rimet. But before all of that, before the Miracle of Bern and USA 1 England 0, there was a team of miners from County Durham beating Juventus in Turin.
Nobody knows how West Auckland Town ended up in the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy. Some think their invitation was meant for Woolwich Arsenal but got mixed up in the post. We do know that West Auckland paid their own way to Italy in 1909, and, once there, beat a team from Stuttgart 2-0 and the Swiss side FC Winterthur by the same score in the final. Two years later they were back, beating FC Zurich in the semi and thrashing Juventus 6-1 to win the cup outright. Juve have since won fifty-one major competitions. West Auckland went bankrupt and had to pawn their trophy to the landlady of a local hotel. Unsurprisingly, the club make a big deal of their history. ‘Home of the first World Cup’ says the sign at the start of the village, and an image of the Lipton Trophy adorns both the entrance gate and the club badge. You pass through the gate to get to the turnstile, where you see a paper packaging plant and a housing estate, and an old man at a table selling raffle tickets and programmes. There’s an open-air terrace behind one goal and two covered stands on the far side of the pitch, the larger painted black, white and amber with ‘This is West Auckland’ written above the players’ tunnel. In the clubhouse (where you’ll find decent food and cheap beer) a Juventus pennant hangs on the wall.
Match day entrance: £5 adults, £2.50 concessions.
Club website: West Auckland Town.
Getting there: From Bishop Auckland take the A688 through the outskirts of town, continuing through St Helen Auckland on Station Road. Head straight on (left) at the roundabout followed by a left turn at the next mini roundabout. Bear left with the road past the Earl of Warwick pub and park on the side of the road. The ground is down a track on your right hand side. By public transport, Go North East number 21 runs to Bishop Auckland from Newcastle. Change in Bishop to the 8A Arriva service to Ramshaw, which calls at West Auckland. From Darlington, take Arriva number 1 to Bishop Auckland, changing to the same company’s number 8 to West Auckland. The Arriva 8b runs direct from Darlington to West Auckland but is not as frequent.
The village’s best pub is the Workingmen’s Club, where you’ll also find the replica of the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy.
With thanks to Michael Hudson