The club have asked me to compile a list of players to have played for Crook, and while it’s a tricky one, I’ve decided my first task is to start from 1945-46 season as I’ve seen most of the men in question in action.
I’ve decided to do this in near to twenty year time lines because of the changes in styles in both the game and equipment over the years (ie pitch markings, penalty law, the offside law, 2-3-5, 4-4-2, footballs, boots, subs etc) and the changing times of the town.
First I will start with 1945 to 1966 with my favourite position, goalkeeper.
Two men stand out in this department, “Fearless” Fred Jarrie and Ray Snowball, who from 1947-48 to 1963-64 made the position practically their own.
In my article’s I will point out a few facts on the way, promise the next lot won’t be so long winded. Northern League clubs were run by a committee from the beginning up to the 1960’s. Every year a vote was made to run affairs, at Crook in the 1950’s up to forty or fifty people put their names forward for the posts of officials and twelve committee, it was easier to put your name forward for the local council than joining your local football club.
The officials and committee picked the team, if you had fourteen players turning up they had to sit in the changing room fully clothed waiting to find out if they were playing, no warm-ups in those days, sometimes sitting until five minutes before the kick off waiting for a heated split decision to be decided.
It wasn’t until 1964 when George Wardle our successful coach, his hands tied behind his back on team selection left the club to join the Middlesbrough coaching staff, things started to change, his parting shot was, “Move with the times you need your football coaches picking the team.”
Things changed but not in the way we imagined, the mines closed, industry moved away, the railway closed, instead of a vibrant community we have ended up being a quiet residential town which awake’s now and again when we have a winning football team.
1945-46 the club was formed as Crook Colliery Welfare, 1 shilling and six pence left over from the Nortumberland and Durham War League days, Ernest Craggs resumed his post as President.
An unsettled team had six different keepers, local lad Bob Lumsdon was the first. Herbie Coulson who had been a prisoner of war returned and played four games towards the end the season, he’s first against Stanley United away, it was probably a big mistake, the ref having to stop the game several times while he recovered, the lad was so weak from his treatment in captivity, he finished the game, Crook losing 4-0. The following season he played in all but one game, playing 48, the club posting a record at the time for a Northern League side for the most games in a season, gates of 5,000 were reached that year.
1947 Fred Jarrie arrived at Crook, the year that the National Coal Board came into being. Fred made his debut on Sept 10th and from then until May 1st 1964 the club played in 719 competitive games, Jarrie 315, one as an outfield player, Snowball 283 one as an outfield player, appearing in no less than 598. In the 1965-66 season Snowball joined Darlington playing only four games for us and the following season 38, his full total 325.Fred Jarrie had the hardest time, the club trying to establish themselves in the Northern League once more but in his time gates were soaring and records were broken and history was made.
1948-49 The Amateur Cup Semi Final was reached 24,000 watched a draw at Roker Park, the replay was lost at West Ham. The Amateur Cup was so important at the time, full back Albert Nairn was married on the morning of the game then he played at Roker Park.
1951-52, A momentous year, the club is split into two warring factions the members club and the supporters club, one side wanting the supporters to contribute more money into the running of the club, the supporters wanting to use their money for trips away and various entertainments. They even had their own programs the members not telling the opposition the team until after the publications, there were quite a few A.N Other or S.O. Else in the supporters issue.
Sept 17th, after extensive alterations 6,000 turn out at the Millfield to watch visitors Sunderland win 4-3. It is now one of the biggest playing surfaces in the country.
Oct 27th 9,000 in attendance for an FA Cup tie against North Eastern League outfit, semi -pros Spenymoor at home, we lose 2-0.
Jan 12th Two games against the previous years Amateur Cup winners Pegasus, at least 28,000 watched the two games, Crook’s official gate 10,000, it was more, but that’s another story. Peter May soon to be one of England’s most successful cricket captains played for Pegasus in the game at Crook. A week later the replay was won 1-0 most of the newspaper reporters were asking “Why was Jarrie allowed to stay in the Amateur game on this display, why hadn’t he been picked to play for England?” The south held sway in that department, enough said. The Oxford University ground was borrowed to accommodate the 14,000 fans.
Feb 9th, a 4-4 draw v Romford playing in borrowed Willington blue and white because of a colour clash, in those days both teams had to change in Amateur Cup ties. The crowd singing Abide With Me accompanied by Hunwick Brass Band before the game as a tribute to the late King, a popular during the war. If you know Crook, being in the dip it echo’s, can you imagine thousands of voices singing, the noise bouncing from the hillside? Spine chilling! The King was a popular figure head for many, raw emotion from World War Two brought back to many.
Feb 16th, up to 20 or more people crammed into anyone’s house who had a 14 inch T.V. 13,500 gate plus a TV audience watch a 3-1 win to Crook at Romford. This was one of the first games, if not the first to be shown live on a Saturday afternoon.
Feb 23rd A reported 20,000 Crook v Walton and Hersham,the gates broken down, people injured, watched Crook over-run the visitors but they fail to score in a 0-0 draw at the Millfield. Extra incentive to win the replay, the Amateur final was to be played at Wembley for the first time, we lose 2-0.
1952-53 League Champions for the first time since 1926-27,106 league goals scored, 38 goals against. Bill Harburn was a member of the Crook squad and he emigrated to Austrailia, playing for Victorian State League outfit Hakoah. Was a member of the Australian 1956 Olympic squad. He was killed when a section of the Westgate Bridge in Melbourne collapsed when under construction in 1970.
1953-54 Hitchin Town were beaten 10-1 in the fourth round of the Amateur Cup a record never beaten in that round. The only time in Amateur Cup history the final had two replays, Bishop Auckland beaten 1-0 in the third game, 200,000 fans watching the three games.
1954-55 Sept 15th, invited as Amateur Cup winners, a unique game at Luton in the Ansell Memorial Trophy, a 1-1 draw local lad Donald Crabtree scoring. The club decide to replace Jarrie with Snowball, Jarrie joins Willington, he played in the Amateur Cup first round had a great game, Crook lose 1-0. Dec11th After beating local rivals Stanley United in the first round proper, trip to Brentford losing 4-1 with ten men most of the game, Matty Armstrong sent off.
A three match Easter tour to the Channel Islands. Jackie Snowdon, one time Willington stalwart plays in goal winning in the County Cup final because of an injury to Ray, Crook beat the Bishops 6-0, but they gain revenge in the League Cup Final winning 6-0. Snowball returns to the side who beat Evenwood 5-3 in the Benevolent Bowl Final.
1955-56 Fred Jarrie is back in harness, Nov 19th a memorable day a 2-2 draw at home to Derby County, a defeat away in the replay.
Two 12,000 gates v Bishop Auckland in the Amateur Cup first round, it was predicted that the cup winners would come from this cup tie, they were right, the Bishops won it, they did three years running. Regular 5,000 gates for league games.
1956-57 6,000 watch Crook beat Stockton 3-0 away in the Amateur Cup. Two 12,000 gates v Bishop Auckland, this time in the Amateur Cup quarter final.
1957-58 Ray Snowball rejoins the club. After going though all the FA Cup qualifying rounds a 8-1 thumping at Workington followed. The following week a 10-1 win v Whitby in the League Cup. March 15th a disappointing 1-0 defeat in the Amateur Cup Semi Final v Ilford. Goal Keeping was shared Snowball 34, Tweddle 5, Jarrie 4 and McNulty 2. Two 12-1 wins v South Bank, Fred Jarrie bowing out in style playing his last game for the club in the away game. A footnote in the two games v the Bankers and the one at Whitby had the same goalkeeper, Neville Pybus, he played for Whitby in the 1964-65 Amateur Cup Final. Billy Tweddle was a local lad who played at the end of the season, the club playing eleven games in sixteen days, he later emigrated to South Africa.
1958-59 to 1964 Ray Snowball reigns, but not without a wobble. Nov. 15th a 4-1 defeat at Buxton in the FA Cup Pat McNulty plays in the next three games, the first at Evenwood, a linesman failed to turn up and Ray reluctantly took the place of the absentee. McNulty played in twelve games that season, Patterson, a keeper from Gateshead (1 game) and a well known name in the North East, Alan Stalker (1 game) who later became a famous police chief.
Many an argument took place on Crook’s greatest side, the team won the League and Amateur Cup, never accomplished by the club before, Ray Snowball making two outstanding saves just before half time, v Barnet in a 3-2 win at Wembley, the media stating this was a better game than the International match the week before in both skill and entertainment.
1959-60 Oct 7th John Walton, makes his debut in goal,he makes 7 appearances that season, Liverpool soon taking an interest in the teenager. After beating Malock in round one of the FA Cup, York City were the visitors on Nov 5th winning 1-0. March 12th Amateur Cup Semi Final defeat v Kingstonion at St.James Park. April 30th County Cup winners beating West Auckland 1-0 in the final. 1960-61 April 9th a quiet season,League Cup winners, a 2-0 win v Bishop Auckland.
1961-62 Amateur Cup winners after a replay v Hounslow Town 1-1 at Wembley April 9th , 4-0 at Ayrsome Park.
1962-63 Newcastle send a team for a friendly with a view of signing Frank Clark. Sept 22nd A trip to Norway to play two games. Nov 3rd Hull City win a thriller 5-4 in the FA Cup, relations strained with Newcastle as they refuse permission to play Frank Clark in this game, their excuse he could be needed for their FA Cup campain, he wasn’t. League Champions
1963-64 A 2-1 defeat to Chesterfield on Nov 16th. All ties but the semi and Amateur cup final ended in replays. April 18th Amateur Cup winners v Enfield winning 2-1, three Amateur Cup winners medals for Ray Snowball.
1964-65 He leaves the club to play for Darlington, playing 4 games in the season for Crook.
1965-66 A return to the club playing in 38 of the 48 games played.
I carn’t spilt the pair, one helping to develop after the war, the other in great teams, these two rank as two of the greats.