Highs and Lows
Willington have had plenty of highs since they were formed in 1906 – winning the Northern League three times, the Northern League Cup eight times and the Durham Benevolent Bowl three times. The club’s greatest success came in 1950 however with a 4-0 win over local rivals Bishop Auckland in the final of the FA Amateur Cup at Wembley. 88,000 spectators saw the game that day and a victory which was revenge for Willington as, having outplayed Bishop Auckland in the 1939 final, they had gone on to lose that game 3-0 after extra-time.
Willington had their lowest point in December 1996 when the club was within minutes of folding. Following a year of turmoil, both on pitch and within the social club, a new administration was formed in January 1997. The club then suffered relegation, firstly to the Northern League Second Division and then, in 2004, to the Wearside League where this historic club plays its football today.
Bishop Auckland were undoubtedly favourites for the 1950 Amateur Cup final but, despite dominating for large periods, they were unable to overturn the 3-0 lead that Willington had amassed in the first half. Captain Eddie Taylor (pictured above) was an injury doubt for the game but went on to score the first for Willington before being presented with the cup by Lord Wigram. Taylor was a shipyard worker from Sunderland and is largely acknowledged as one of the finest post-war Northern League footballers.
Also present that day was Jack Snowdon, the Willington goalkeeper and another exceptional performer. A playing legend for Willington, Jack went on to become Club President and Vice Chairman in the 1990’s. Below he recalls a memory of the 1950 final:
There was an electrical repair firm in Bishop Auckland called Oliphant’s. As you know, the second half was on the radio. On the Friday this Bishop supporter’s wireless had broken down so he took it to Oliphant and said “I want it ready for commentary tomorrow”. Oliphant said “I think I’ll get it done!” And the lad just got there in time and he switched it on – and Raymond Glendenning said “we’re now at Wembley Stadium for the second half of the Amateur Cup Final and the half-time score is Bishop 0 Willington 3”. And the lad said “take the bugger back, you’ve got the wires crosesed!”’ (The Grit and the Glory, pg. 19).
Jack Snowdon Interview
Below you can see man of the match Jack Snowdon recalling his memories of the 1950 FA Amateur Cup Final to Durham Amateur Football Trust member John Phelan.