THE FA Amateur Cup is returning to the North East for the last time.
It will be greeted at Crook Town’s Millfield Ground next Monday by players from four Northern League clubs who lifted the Cup between 1950-1969.
The oldest is goalkeeper Jack Snowdon, 89, who helped Willington to a 4-0 win over Bishop Auckland at Wembley in 1950.
Almost all of the nine surviving players from North Shields’ victorious 1969 side are expected to attend.
Crook Town winger Jimmy McMillan, the only player ever to win four Amateur Cup winner’s medals and Bishop Auckland star and former England amateur international Derek Lewin will also be among the returning heroes.
ENL officials and players will then head to Durham where the County Council is hosting a Civic Lunch to mark the 125th anniversary of the Northern League - the world’s second oldest football league.
The League will be presented with the Chairman’s Medal by Chairman Pauline Charlton.
After the lunch, both the FA Amateur Cup and the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy – West Auckland’s World Cup – will go to the National Football Museum in Manchester where the Northern League 125 Exhibition will be opened on Thursday, January 23, by former Middlesbrough, Manchester United and England player Gary Pallister, who began his career in the Northern League with Billingham Town.
The Amateur Cup, now stored in the FA vaults at Wembley was first contested in 1893-94 when Tottenham Hotspur, Ipswich Town and Middlesbrough were involved.
Led by Bishop Auckland with 10 victories and Crook Town with five, Northern League sides lifted the trophy on 23 occasions.
Other NL sides to win the Cup were Stockton, West Hartlepool and South Bank. The competition was discontinued in 1974.
ENL Chairman Mike Amos said that the trophy’s return was a special way to mark the 125th anniversary.
“The League and the FA Amateur Cup were for many years synonymous. There would be crowds of up 100,000 at the Final and 10,000 thronging the streets to welcome the winners home.
“The Trophy is now quite fragile and the FA’s gesture in allowing it to return one more time to the region is very much appreciated. It will almost certainly never be here again,” said Amos.
The public are invited to attend Crook’s ground between 9.30 and 11.30 am next Monday to reminisce with former players and be photographed with the Cup.
The day is one of many special events marking the League’s 125th anniversary which is on March 25.