Living in the Past

(Very) late match report just in 

by BILLY'S CONTRACT at Feethams

Darlington 1 Pools 4    Durham Senior Cup Final, 1985

Going from memory I think I found out about this match being played by pure chance. There was not much mention of it beforehand probably because it was pre season and as such there was not much publicity about it. I could not tell you who Pools beat in the previous rounds let alone the semis to reach this prestigious final. 

At the time I used to live in Eaglescliffe, a mere 15 minute drive to Darlington. Had I known beforehand about this match taking place I would have sedately made my way to Allens West railway station just around the corner from where I lived accompanied by my Darlington supporting friend, work mate and near-neighbour, and boarded the train for Quakerville.

In those days the train would have been a Class 101 Diesel multiple unit (DMU) run by British Rail. Little did any of us innocents suspect that Northern Rail and Pacer trains would be soon coming down the line or should I say screeching and plodding down the line a few months later, and are still with us thirty years on. I recall dashing to the car, which I am guessing in 1985 could have been either my trusty Triumph Acclaim or my rusty Austin Maxi. When I think about it, it had got to have been the Toledo as I remember getting home later that same day without the assistance of the breakdown services.

Thinking back, the first three cars that I owned, Triumph Toledo, Austin Maxi and Triumph Acclaim, all broke down at one stage or another, some of them on numerous occasions. Tell me whatever did happened to British Leyland?

So it was a mad dash (yes, it definitely was the Acclaim and not the Maxi now that I come to think of it, Maxis did not dash in either looks or performance), down the A67 trying to avoid the traffic going to Teesside airport. Yes, dear reader, I can't believe it either: that there was once an airport in Teesside/Cleveland/Tees Valley. Historical fact: after the war Hartlepool was given the opportunity to have an international airport in the town based at the then Greatham airfield, but the council opted instead for a steelworks.

I parked up in Darlo without too much difficulty (In that case it was undoubtedly the Acclaim and not the Maxi) on the hill near the railway station. I got to the ground a few minutes after kick off and gained entrance through a gate and not the turnstile at the cricket end of the ground. Paid my money to the 'gate operator' who gave me a cloakroom raffle ticket in exchange.

Looking at the advertising hoardings, Magnet and Southerns is now Magnet, Vaux is gone, James Graham Timber is gone, Feethams is gone and nobody has a clue where Darlo FC are. In the past before fan segregation, we always used the cricket ground turnstile and not the Polam Lane entance into Feethams as, funnily, it was a matter of course/tradition that Poolies used to congregate in the Tin Shed, the Darlington popular end, unless of course Pools were playing there and it then became the Hartlepool popular end.
"I hadn't even got the wrapper off my Marathon bar when Alan Shoulder neatly rounded the Darlo keeper leaving him on the edge of the penalty box and slotted home from about a foot."

The first time I went to Feethams was 1970/71 season and I asked my new-found college mates who were going to the game where we would meet up. "See you in the Tin Shed" was their nonchalant reply, and it was not like they were trouble makers/boot boys/skins or the like and as such over the years it was our meeting up point in the ground. We all had our favourite viewing spots on the terrace in the Tin Shed. Mine to be honest was very near to the exit.

As it was such a hot day, I gave the Shed a miss and decided to enjoy the sunshine and took my place on the terracing beside the East Stand (Older readers may recall this is the one the that housed the dressing rooms).

I hadn't even got the wrapper off my Marathon bar when Alan Shoulder neatly rounded the Darlo keeper leaving him on the edge of the penalty box and slotted home from about a foot. "Two nil down in 7 minutes" this Darlo fan who was stood behind me yelled. I said "Two? I only thought it was one nil". He confirmed that Pools had got their first after three minutes. He must have thought that I too was a Darlo supporter by the look on my face. But my disappointment was at having missed a Pools goal and not for being a Darloid.

In truth I am unable to recall much of the match, well it was thirty-one years ago after all, but even when Pools went three goals up I still felt that they would blow it. Having a 4-1 lead with a few minutes to go did not fill me with confidence and I still thought that we might, just might get a draw out of the game ...with a bit of luck!

I know Alan Shoulder and Kevin Dixon both scored. Dicker might have got two but despite trawling the internet, and searching my memory banks I am unable to name the other scorer(s). There was a crowd of around five or six hundred at best. Looking back there did not seem to be very many Poolies in attendance but again this was in an age before replica strips were the norm and at that time I would be, as now, wearing a Jethro Tull T shirt (Under Wraps tour 1985).
Kevin Dixon is thwarted by the Darlington keeper,
I'll never forget old what's his name.
Interestingly, both teams played in their away shirts. Darlo in a smart green affair which would not be out of place for any of today's non league teams. Pools played in a red shirt with black trim with Hansa emblazoned across the the front of the shirt in German Gothic (?) lettering. For the benefit of younger readers, Hansa was a lager brewed under licence by Cameron's at a time when German-named lagers were all the rage. Hansa was brought in to replace Cameron's putrid Ice Gold and to compete with Vaux's Norseman lager - all of which tasted like rabid cat's pee of various differing degrees. Hansa was strongly advertised in the local press and regional TV. The tag line went something like 'You ave ze thirst and vee ave ze Hansa. Brewed in Dortmund since 1767' (or something). To get the real effect that should be read in a very bad German accent something akin to Dick Van Dyke playing the part of a German guard in a prisoner of war camp film. The only time I came across Hansa lager Bier in Germany was when we were in some obscure part of East Berlin before the wall came down and I spotted someone drinking it. My friend who had been living in Germany for a good many years informed me that only the down and outs would be seen quaffing it. Much to his dismay I insisted on buying a tin of it just for the craic. It was absolutely awful - obviously it had been brewed in Hartlepool!

After the match Pools were presented with the Durham Senior Cup trophy and all the players received tankards. Needless to say that Bob Newton's may well have been full of Hansa lager bier that same evening ...or perhaps that same afternoon.

Can you name the players? Back row: Bob Newton, Brian Honour, Alan Little, John Gollogly, Alan Stevenson, Tom Kelly, David Linighan, Billy Horner drives a Datsun, Front row: John Bird, Nigel Walker, Tony Smith, Keith Nobbs and Alan Shoulder
The victors making their way to the open top coach. Eddie Blackburn in jacket, looks as if he has just come from a party or is on his way to one. Note Advert on the roof of the stand for the Evening Despatch which closed the following year.