Consett made history on this day in 1969 – becoming the first Wearside League club in history to win the Durham Challenge Cup.
The Steelmen had won the famous old trophy four times before, in 1948, 1950, 1959 and 1961, but all those wins were as a professional side.
By the time this final came around, they had reverted to amateur status, which made their county cup final against Northern League opponents Ferryhill Athletic all the more notable.
The match programme noted: “Now they rely on local talent for their team, but they are still a very forceful side to be reckoned with, as Ferryhill will find out tonight.
“Ferryhill, unlike Consett, have not had a very happy time this season. It was mid-way through the season before they chalked up their first win, but since then they have improved a great deal and must be in with a great chance of taking the trophy into the Northern League.
“But whoever carries off the trophy tonight, we can be sure the football served up will be exciting to watch. Both sides have completely different styles of playing, and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top.
“Consett are a more polished outfit, but Ferryhill make up for their lack of finesse with sheer hard work and power, a quality every team manager wants from his team.”
Sadly, the pre-match hype proved to be just that, and the match itself appeared to be a war of attrition, if contemporary reports are to be believed.
The final was held on a Wednesday night at the Feethams home of Darlington, then in the 4th Division, and, astonishingly, it was Consett’s 11th game in 22 days!
The Consett Guardian carried a picture of the victorious Consett side with the trophy, under the headline: ‘Feethams anti-climax, but ‘Steelmen’ look to Wembley’ – referring to the fact that they fancied a crack at the FA Amateur Cup.
The report said: “Goals by Brian Cunningham and Alan Watson made sure of the county’s most glittering soccer prize, but the game itself was a disappointment.
“Consett were given very little opportunity to turn on the style by a side too keen on the physical stuff. The result was some very ordinary football for the good crowd who turned up.
The match programme more or less hit the nail on the head. Consett, it said, are the more polished outfit.
The first goal came in a dull first half through TV engineer Cunningham, while Watson hit the seond in the 75th minute.
Consett’s chances had not looked too good at the start because they were without right-winger Doug Morris, but coach Arnold Bell played his trump card when he announced that South Shields centre-forward Brian Slane (who was dual-registered for Consett and the Northern Premier League side) would play.
There was mixed reaction from Consett officials after the game. Chairman Eric Henderson said: “I thought we adopted the right sort of tactics, even if it meant it wasn’t a good game to watch.
“Maybe it was a bit of an anti-climax, but we have had a hard passage through to the final, and I think so long as you win with reasonable tactics, that is what matters most.”
Former chairman Austin Williamson said: “I am pleased we won, but this was the worst game I have seen for two or three seasons.”
Vice-chairman Jack Watson said: “This is what I call real progress. Last year we won the Sunderland Shipowners and the Monkwearmouth. Now we have won the cup which is the toughest competition in the county.
“I think we have got to set our sights on the Amateur Cup. If North Shields can do it, why can’t we? Wembley seems the natural thing to aim for.”
- Does any supporter have an actual photograph of the Consett team with the trophy? We’d love a copy for our club archives.