Bishop Auckland Football HeroesBishop Auckland FC (1886 – present)
The club was originally formed by the Right Rev. G.R Eden, vicar of Auckland in 1886, and was made up of Theology students from Bishop Auckland castle.
The light and dark blue colours on the club’s shirt represent the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, from whom the majority of early players came. This distinctive shirt went on to become the only amateur club’s colours to ever feature in the popular table football game Subbuteo.
The FA Amateur Cup
The FA Amateur Cup was begun in 1893-94 and Bishop Auckland reached the semi-final in that first season. Their competition win in 1896 was the first of ten – twice as many as the next best club. Bishop Auckland were beaten finalists on eight occasions, reached the semi-final nine times and played in every year of the competition until its demise in 1974.
In the 1950’s Bishop Auckland appeared in six Wembley finals in eight years, ending with a hat-trick of consecutive victories in the years 1955, 56 and 57 for which the FA presented the club with an inscribed replica trophy.
Hard working hat-trick hero
On the morning of the 1939 FA Amateur Cup Final Laurie Wensley went to work as usual. The 19 year old forward, along with two colleagues working on a coal lorry, delivered 200 sacks of coal weighing ten tons, to customers in the Bishop Auckland area. At the end of 90 minutes the final, against Northern League rivals Willington, was goalless. During extra-time Laurie Wensley scored three times to give Bishop Auckland their seventh Amateur Cup success and Laurie Wensley a winner’s medal to match his father’s – Harry Wensley had played in Bishop Auckland’s 1921 cup winning side.
The 1930’s were difficult times in the colliery areas of north-east England following the boom that had seen a record 170,000 miners employed in 1923. In Jarrow in 1936 80% of the population were unemployed, and the men set out on a famous 274 mile hunger march to London.
As well as Bishop Auckland’s cup win, 1939 saw the beginning of the Second World War, and a break from the Amateur Cup and Northern League competitions that was to last for several years.
Also present in that 1939 Amateur Cup winning side was a young wing-half called Bob Paisley who later joined Liverpool as a player and who eventually became their most successful ever manager with three European Cup triumphs in the 1970’s and 80’s.
Warren Bradley moved from Bishop Auckland to Manchester United in 1958, after the Munich air disaster, and went on to gain a full England cap to go with the amateur international caps that he had gained in the same season – a unique achievement.
Perhaps most famous of all however was Bobby Hardisty. Having played for the club over a 20 year period that brought great success, Hardisty also won 15 England caps and represented Great Britain at three Olympic Games, once as captain and twice as assistant manager.