Archive for January 5, 2010

Sleetburn And Ushaw Moor Virtually Uncut

January 5, 2010 Leave a comment

First of all I wish you all a happy New Year.

 So from three months old until almost 16 years old and all spent in the Valley.  How did it happen and what was it about? My mother’s  family were originally farmers but eventually pressing economic considerations almost inevitably led the later male line  into the coal mining industry. Just about all of them were in supervisory roles and they  made a good ‘fist’ of that responsibility.

My mother did not think too much about my natural father and as far as I can gather the main problem was his untidiness.

I spent my youth with a mother and step- father and was more or less none the worse for it. Several kids wondered why my surname was not the same as my half sister’s surname and that was wounding for a while.

I attended New Brancepeth Infants and its junior school. I do not have good memories of the junior school at all – apart from memories of marbles at break and impressive steam trains rushing along the line through Ushaw Moor. It all seems a bit sinister – foreboding at the time – clearly that school did not make me feel happy. Mind you a word of caution will not go amiss: the memory is very selective and unreliable at times. Afterall Wallace Hayton taught there and he was far from sinister – a gentleman infact. Mr Hill? Some liked him but I thought he was far too oppressive.

I have previously mentioned winter sledging down the Sleetburn bank [towards Ushaw Moor] and several other things so I am trying not to be too repetitive. I have another twenty minutes to spare – not much because I could probably write for hours.   

Ushaw Moor! If I brainstorm some words – ie just let them out – what would I come up with? Well let us see! Starting now:

 Harry Barlow, vicar Welby, 11 plus nerves – a mockery of a system but I recovered, Waterhouses Modern we beat them more than once, Watson’s, The Empire, the Modern school – Edith Smith , Pauline Newman – grand girls – Gillian Cruddace -the Pinkneys’ to the left and right of us at Whitehouse Court – Titchy Thompson – jelly and ice cream – bluebird toffee nearly choking my half brother – Peggy living in Whitehouse Court two doors up ie towards the main road -Mr Tonks good teacher eventually headmaster elsewhere – Newcastle 3 Manchester City 1 Crook 2 Derby County 2 – very clean living room at my grandmother’s house with polish and consequently a nice smell -potato picking in the field opposite Whitehouse Court – John Vasey delicate on the ball – number 7  shirt not a bad winger – smell of beer fumes at the bottom of Station Road – plush new seats at the Empire – sort of gold coloured they were c1957 – pit hooter – singing accents – Soccer Gleghorn let us all bow to him – etc etc. 

Did my childhood help me? Yes but only much much later. Five minutes left must press on.

Socrates – the moral philosopher – said that the unconsidered life is not worth living. Well I survived Sleetburn and Ushaw Moor and am in a fit state to consider it all – back -present and future. As I see it we must not be overly impressed by certain institutions – we must not bow and scrape at the alter of life or the alter at some church or other – rather we should observe the world as it is, consult the wise and think for ourselves – if we do not we are living the agenda of others and that would be so sad, so unnecessary and rather futile.

Time up – must dash.


Categories: Memories

The Golden Age Of Soccer

January 5, 2010 Leave a comment

A Durham Amateur Football Trust [DAFT]  publication tells us/reminds us, word for word, of the following:

Bishop Auckland were victorious in the FA Amateur Cup Final on ten occasions, twice as many as the next team – nearby Crook Town – who won it five times!

In 71 seasons of the FA Amateur Cup, Northern League teams appeared in 39 finals and won on 24 occasions.

Crook Town appeared in five Amatur Cup Finals and won each one, enabling Jimmy McMillan [ the DAFT President] to capture four winner’s medals – an unbeatable record.

In 1928 the two street village of Cockfield in County Durham – with every player unemployed – reached the Amateur Cup Final at Middlesborough before losing 3-2 to Leyton.

Bob Hardisty, to many the greatest amateur soccer player of all time, played for the British team at the Olympic Games, and won 15 international Caps for England.

In the 1954 FA  Amateur Cup Final between Crook Town and Bishop Auckland required three games before Crook Town won 1-0 and was watched by crowds totalling almost 200,000.

I might add that Johnny Weirs  was educated at Waterhouses Secondary Modern and went on to winner an FA Amatur Cup winners medal with Crook Town in 1964. The Ushaw Moor County school team had the pleasure of playing against him and that is dealt with in some detail elsewhere on site. 

Why not apply for membership of the Durham Amateur Football Trust? It has some fun and interest and can be contacted at:

4 Soho Cottages, Shildon, Co. Durham DL4  1PQ.  Address your letter to the Membership Secretary – you will not regret it.


Categories: Memories