It is a little known fact that many years before the Jules Rimet Trophy and Uruguay 1930, there was an earlier attempt to establish a football World Cup. Sir Thomas Lipton, philanthropist and enthusiastic sportsman was awarded the Grand Order of the Crown of Italy.
He responded by presenting a trophy for world competition between the countries playing the rapidly developing game of football. The competition was held in Turin, Italy, with teams from the host country, Germany, Switzerland and Great Britain taking part.
The English Football Association was asked to nominate a team but declined the invitation. Lipton, however, insisted that Great Britain be represented and a substitute team from the Northern League, West Auckland, an amateur colliery team from County Durham was selected to represent Britain.
This team of local miners sold furniture and belongings to raise the money required for the trip. Incredibly, West Auckland, displaying typical Northern grit and determination, beat Stuttgart 2 - 0, and met F.C. Winterthur of Switzerland in the final at the Turin stadium.
Amazingly they won 2 - 0 and took the trophy back to Britain without conceding a goal.
Two seasons later, in 1911, they were again invited to compete and unbelievably reached the final once again. beating the famous Italian club Juventus 6 -1.
As a result. West Auckland as twice winners were allowed to keep the trophy and went down in history as the first outright winners of the soccer World Cup.
For the team, however, celebrations were short lived. Because of the tour, the club was in debt, and they borrowed £40 from the landlady on the local inn in which they held their meetings, with the trophy as security. It remained in her possession for almost 50 years until the club managed to buy it back in 1960 for £100.
In 1981, Tyne Tees Television made a film of a story called A Captain's Tale which starred actor Dennis Waterman as Bob Jones, the club captain. It was filmed in the North East of England and Italy.
In January 1994 the trophy, which was then being held in West Auckland Working Men's Club, was stolen. Despite the best efforts of the police and the offer of a substantial reward, the trophy has not been recovered. However, a replica trophy has been made, sponsored by Unilever, holders of the Lipton name, and the cup is again in the proud ownership of West Auckland Football Club.