They are very proud of their football team in West Aukland. You get the message as you enter the town and on the green is a statue to their football exploits and their mining past.
Today is one of the derby’s of the season, West Aukland v Bishop Aukland, West v Two blues. 1.5 miles apart and local rivals for over 100 years, these County Durham teams have won trophies at their level to rival anyone in England. The fierce local rivalry was borne out of their strong mining communities.
West Auckland’s great football claim to fame is that they are known as the winners of the first ‘World Cup’ in Easter 1909. They won the Thomas Lipton Trophy in Turin beating F.C. Winterthur of Switzerland in the final 2-0.The trophy was presented by Sir Thomas Lipton, of Liptons tea fame, who had organised the competition. Originally envisaged as between national teams it became a club competition with teams nominated from, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Great Britain. Just how West Auckland came to represent GB is not known but the team made up of mainly local miners managed to fund the trip at great cost and came back triumphant.
Two years later they defended the Trophy beating F.C. Zurich 2-0 in the semi- final and beating Juventus FBC 6-1 in the final who had beaten Torino in their semi-final. They were then awarded the trophy for life and it stayed in West Aukland at the Wheatsheaf Hotel whose land lady had lent them £40 to cover some of their travel costs. The club managed to pay their debt in 1960 when tracking down Mrs Lanchester to Liverpool where she accepted £100 and the trophy was again theirs. It was displayed at a few local hostelries but was stolen from the West Auckland Workingmen’s Club in 1994 never to be seen again. Luckily the insurance money and sponsorship by Liptons meant a replica is again on display.
They have since been runners up in the F.A. Amateur Cup in 1961 and the F. A. Vase in 2012 and 2014.
Bishop Auckland’s achievements match their rivals. Within 10 years of the club forming out of Bishop Aukland Church Institute in 1886 they had won the first of ten F.A. Amateur Cup finals a trophy that they were also the beaten finalists 8 times. In fact they played in 27 semi-finals a truly magnificent achievement in the then premier Cup for Non-League teams. For such an achievement they were presented with a replica of the cup to keep forever when it was retired in 1974.
You enter the ground down a track in one corner of the ground passing some housing, one of which is for sale, a snip for a passionate fan.
The pitch is open to the elements and slopes from one end to another and falls away from the stand side with a dip in the middle. The playing surface was thick grass that looked like a carpet.
West Aukland 1 Bishop Aukland 1
Both teams were competitive from the start and the referee had a good game dealing with some squabbles calmly. The crowd of 474 reflected the derby and there appeared to be equal numbers supporting their teams. It was a friendly atmosphere and everyone could use the homely club house or the food kiosk and there were lots of groups catching up on friends and gossip.
West Aukland started briskly and it was no surprise that Lamar Purewal rose to meet a great cross from the right by Hegarty and headed the ball firmly in the goal. Bishops came back hard and Winn who was leading the attack bustled through a group of West Aukland defenders to place the ball in the net on 28 minutes.
The 1-1 score at half time stayed the same to the end of the game even though both teams remained committed. West Aukland looked the most likely to score as Bishop Aukland tired and the draw they earned has taken them to top or the league. This will only be temporary as they have played more games than most other teams in the league.
Great afternoon out and a good game of Football.
In the chip league I have scored West Aukland 65, the chips were only warm, but they tasted really good.