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Non League Football Under The Microscope

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Eastbourne Borough fans celebrate - August Bank Holiday Monday 2003                                Photograph by Sam Hicks

West Auckland Town AFC

Darlington Road, West Auckland, County Durham DL14 9HU
Telephone: 07800 796630
Nickname: West
Northern League

Note West Auckland Town FC is nevertheless famous for having won the “first World Cup”, the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy in 1909 and 1911. Although undeniably romantic, the “World Cup” tag is something of a misnomer as no nations outside of Europe competed, but it certainly was the first European Cup.

Businessman Lipton inaugurated the trophy for the first competition between the leading football clubs of Europe. The Football Associations of Italy, Germany and Switzerland duly nominated clubs to compete, but typically, the English FA refused to nominate a club, just as they refused to compete in the first two proper World Cups. For reasons that remain unclear West Auckland ended up being the English entry and in the Final in Turin on 12 April 1909 beat Swiss side FC Winterthur 2-0. Two years later the team of Coalminers returned and defeated Juventus 6-1 and were awarded the trophy to keep in perpetutity.

Upon their return home, the club was forced to pawn the trophy to the landlady of the local hotel, because of financial problems. It remained with her family until 1960 when a village appeal raised money to return the cup to the club. The cup was then stolen in 1994 and despite the best efforts of local police and a £2,000 reward it was never found. An exact replica of the cup now be found in a secure cabinet in the West Auckland Working Men's Club.

West Auckland reached the Final of the Amateur Cup in 1961 and although they lost to Walthamstow Avenue, used part of their winnings to develop their Darlington Road home which today, is a pleasant and well-appointed Non League venue. After entering through the celebratory World Cup gates, there is terracing behind the near goal. The neat main stand, with its yellow painted benches straddles the half-way line, with a further area of cover and clubhouse adjacent. DB