Crook (1889 – present)
1953 – 1966 were the ‘glory years’ as Crook Town won the FA Amateur Cup four times (53-54, 58-59, 61-62 and 63-64). They also won the Northern League three times (52-53, 58-59 and 62-63) as well as the Northern League Cup, The Durham Challenge Cup and the Durham Benevolent Bowl.
A Chequered Past
Although Crook Town were Northern League Champions in 1926-27, the following year disaster struck. Following an anonymous tip off, believed by many to have come from local rivals Bishop Auckland, Crook Town were accused of breaking FA rules for amateurs by paying their players a flat rate. Only expenses for amateurs were allowed at this time. To defend themselves Crook gathered evidence to show that other Northern League sides were also paying players, and that it was the system that was flawed, rather than their behaviour. The defence back-fired as 341 players and numerous officials across the league were found guilty by the FA of receiving and making illegal payments.
The following season Crook Town were refused admission to the Northern League, and played the season in the Durham Central League. In a time of economic hardship in the north-east many felt players were simply taking their ‘tea money’ home to share with their families rather than spending it all on themselves.
Cockfield captain R W Harrison wrote at the time ‘It is also passing strange that pit Durham, of all England the area where industrial depression is blackest, should be the one district rich enough to subscribe its amateur football players. The amateur who sports plus-fours and knows the best people, travels in comfort, lunches before the match, dines after it and stays at the best hotels keeps his status. The stocky built, bow legged Durham pit lad goes without lunch, crowds into a United bus, receives five shillings for tea, contents himself with a pie or a snack in a side street and consequently is a professional’ (Northern Goalfields, pg. 421).
Crook Town and Barcelona: An Unlikely Alliance
One time Crook player Jack Greenwell managed Barcelona in two spells, and remains their longest serving manager to date. Having borrowed money from a neighbour for his fare to Spain, Greenwell is charged with having created the club’s first ‘golden era’ after taking over in 1913 – following his appearance in the West Auckland squad at the first ‘World Cup’ of 1909.
Under his first stewardship Barcelona won five Catalan titles and two Spanish Cups as well as another title in his second spell as manager in the 1920’s. During this tenure, and at his invitation, Crook Town toured Catalonia in 1913, 1921 and 1922.
As a result of this unlikely alliance Crook Town, now in the Northern League Second Division, play their away games in the famous blue and red stripes of Barcelona.