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West Auckland For Wembley

Fri 9th May 2014 | Football Club Management

The Jules Remit trophy may be more widely known and fondly remembered by England’s success starved football fans but in one tiny corner of County Durham it’s the Sir Thomas Lipton trophy that evokes the strongest of memories.

When West Auckland Town AFC step out at Wembley on the 10th May for the FA Vase Final against Sholing FC they’ll be hoping to emulate the success of their forefathers, the local heroes, the coalminers that won the original World Cup tournament, TWICE.

The brainchild of tea merchant and yachtsman, Sir Thomas Lipton (who incidentally was born 10th May 1848), his original idea was to host a competition comprising of the best football teams in Europe. In Turin 1909, the very first ‘World Cup’ saw the amateur team of miners from West Auckland line up against a Torino XI (Italy), Stuttgarter Sportfreunde (Germany) and FC Winterthur (Switzerland).

There are many theories as to how and why West Auckland were invited to play but it’s widely accepted that the English Football Association declined the initial offer to send a team to the tournament. Unperturbed, Lipton invited West Auckland, a team languishing at the foot of the Northern Amateur League at the time.

West Auckland defied the odds leaving the cosmopolitan northern Italian city of Turin as winners of the tournament, brushing aside FC Winterthur in a 2 nil victory to claim a place in football history.

Huge sacrifices were made by each member of the team to take part but their gallant effort was largely ignored by the English press. Despite this snub the team returned to Italy in 1911, where once again they defied the odds beating FC Zurich in the semi-final. In the final they faced Juventus, the superstars of Italian and European football. But the men from the coalface feared no one, playing as only they knew how and claimed the trophy for the second time, and as their own outright, with a 6-1 win.

Again, the original World Cup winners from the Northern Amateur League were largely ignored by the English press, but their achievement lives on in the village where coalmining is now a distant past. But the remarkable spirit with the village’s team lives on and they find themselves once more on the verge making their mark in the history books of English football.

This may not be Turin, but for the men of West Auckland, stepping out at Wembley on the May 10th will make them feel like superstars and if they win they will certainly be treated like World Cup winners and one thing is for sure, they certainly won’t be ignored!  

Good luck to fcbusiness’ long-serving employee and West Auckland assistant manager, Paul Foster tomorrow.

Posted by: Aaron Gourley 

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