(team photograph donated to the club by Sue Clennell and Billy Weir)
The first of three-in-a-row for the Two Blues, 1955 would see Bishop Auckland return to Wembley for the final of the FA Amateur Cup, a place they were close to calling ‘home.’
Having lost in the final the previous season, in a second replay against local rivals Crook Town, the 1954-55 campaign would see the County Durham side go all the way to glory for the first time since 1939 (Bishops were runners-up in 1946, 1950 and 1951 as well as being semi-finalists in 1947 and 1948).
R1 – Stork (a) Won 3-1
R2 – Erith & Belvedere (h) Won 5-0
R3 – Kingstonian (a) Won 12-3
R4 – Finchley (h) Drew 1-1; Replay Won 3-1
SF – Wycombe Wanderers (at Doncaster) Won 1-0
F – Hendon (Wembley) Won 2-0
In ‘Kings of Amateur Soccer’ the Official Centenary History of Bishop Auckland FC by Chris Foote-Wood he said of this period:
“The 1954-55 campaign produced some light relief in round three. Away to Kingstonian, in front of a ground record crowd of 9,844, Bishops were all over their illustrious opponents, 10-0, 11-0, 12-0. Goalkeeper Harry Sharratt felt out of things. HE wanted to score as well, so in the last five minutes off he went up front, seeking that 13th goal for himself. He didn’t get it, and no matter that the home side scored three times in his absence. Back home in Co. Durham, thousands were glued to their radio sets, awaiting the Amateur Cup results. “Kingstonian….three….” (a collective intake of breath) “Bishop Auckland….twelve” (joy unconfined. The Kingstonian keeper was actually on-loan Bishop Auckland player, Geoff North. He was the son of penalty taking goalkeeper Teddy North, who played for Bishops in the AC finals of 1914, 1915 and 1921. “The Bishops played chessboard moves, luring their puzzled enemy out of position with precision teamwork and the tantalising skill of Seamus O’Connell” wrote Leslie Nichol.
(Above, goalkeeper Harry Sharratt, and below Bobby Hardisty, both played major parts for Bishop Auckland during the successful 1955 campaign)
As for the final itself, a 2-0 win over Hendon, Foote-Wood’s book says of that glorious day:
“It was not a classic final, but the 2-0 result was certainly right for the Auckland fans in the capacity 100,000 crowd. A goals in each half from Derek Lewis, Auckland’s eighth Amateur cup win and – at last – Hardisty’s long-awaited winners medal. “Hendon outplayed” was the press verdict. “About time too” said Tommy Farrer, who played for Bishops in three losing finals before joining Walthamstow Avenue. Lewin and Edwards were the only new faces from 1954, and there were eight internationals in the Bishop Auckland side. Auckland used only 13 players their winning AC campaign. Field Marshall Viscount Montgomery presented the cup to captain Tommy Stewart who passed it on to Hardisty. “Hardisty and Nimmins were magnificent both in defence and attack” was another press comment.”
A successful season would see not only the FA Amateur Cup won but also the Northern League title and Northern League Cup (both with Crook Town as runners-up), they also added the Auckland Nursing Cup to their haul but missed out on adding the Durham County Challenge Cup when losing that one to……Crook Town.