Newcastle are not the only 'wee club in the North East' – as Ferguson should know
00:39 GMT, 31 December 2012
There’s another wee club in the North East: they are called Bishop Auckland and they play in the Northern League. You may have heard of them — they won the Amateur Cup 10 times, the last in 1957.
Those were the days when the Wembley final would attract 100,000. Bob Paisley played for ‘Bishops’ in the 1937 final.
Bishop Auckland are known for another reason: their relationship with Manchester United. After the Munich air crash in February 1958 United were short of players. They were allowed to borrow some on a short-term arrangement.
Helping hands: Bishop Auckland stars Lewin (second left) and Bob Hardisty (centre)
Bishop Auckland’s greatest ever
player, Bob Hardisty, knew Matt Busby — when Busby managed the Great
Britain side at the 1948 Olympics, Hardisty was his captain.
In North East folklore it is said
that when Jimmy Murphy, Busby’s assistant at United, visited him in a
Munich hospital in the days after the crash, Busby told him to ‘get Bob
Murphy did so, and Bishop Auckland
agreed to loan three players to Old Trafford — forward Hardisty, right
winger Warren Bradley and wing half Derek Lewin.
Proud: Hardisty clings to the Amateur Cup trophy after the 1955 final. He was one of the first players Matt Busby turned to after the Munich air disaster
Recalling those desperate days,
Murphy is quoted in John Roberts’s The Team That Wouldn’t Die as saying:
‘People wanted to help but they could not give me the help I wanted. I
didn’t need people to open letters and help in ways like that. I needed
players. Liverpool and Nottingham Forest offered to do what they could
but I was left trying to sort out what I had, what I needed and what I
could get. Then the coffins started to arrive at the ground.’
Forced to fulfil fixtures, United’s
first reserve game post-Munich was at Old Trafford. There were an
estimated 25,000 there and all three from Bishops played. Bradley went
on to sign permanently for United and was then selected for England.
Busby and Murphy knew the quality of Bishop Auckland players.
Sir Alex Ferguson knows all this
because he knows his history. He sent a United XI to Bishop Auckland in
1996 as a fund-raiser in hard times.
A wee club in the North East Ferguson helped out in ’96 because he
knew that in their hour of need, big Manchester United were once
grateful for such a wee club.
Rant: Sir Alex Ferguson labelled Newcastle a 'wee club'