Its 50 years ago that Skelmersdale United lifted the Amateur Cup when they beat Dagenham 4-1 in the final at the Old Wembley Stadium, this season would have been a special occasion for the club and the town but with the current restrictions it makes it impossible to celebrate with the players who brought the trophy home to West Lancashire.
The Skem Utd Match Day magazine and the club social media channels were to feature monthly articles charting the progress to the final, reports taken from the local press. Here we look back at United’s progress throughout January of 1971.
It would be United’s last attempt at winning the Trophy as the club had made plans to join the Northern Premier League set up for the start of the 1971 season. It had always been Chairman Bill Gregson’s ambition for the club to triumph before moving up the football league pyramid.
In the First round they were away to top Northern League side Spennymoor Town, a difficult proposition as the North East side had beaten United twice in previous seasons.
SKEM WELL WORTH A REPLAY
Spennymoor 1 Skelmersdale Utd 1
January 9th 1971
It looked possible that the men from the grimy County Durham town of Spennymoor would for the third time take Skelmersdale’s scalp when they took the lead a minute before half time and left Roy Rees’s men the unenviable task of kicking uphill on a lob sided pitch which seemed so very far from the lush Wembley turf United have already savoured.
It took Skem just 17 minutes to erase that possibility when Ted Dicken showed why he is the Cheshire Leagues top marksman bulleting a stunning header past the Spenny keeper to give the Lancashire boys their only breakthrough in 270 minutes of pounding this Northern League’s team defence in recent years… and it gave them a White Moss showdown next week.
The replay a week later and as the headlines said in the local press, “This was the Skem fans have waited for”.
SPENNYMOOR PUT TO THE SWORD
Skelmersdale United 5 Spennymoor 1
January 16th 1971
Two first half goals in the space of one uproarious minute in the first half all but sealed Spennymoor’s FA Amateur Cup fate for 1971, two more in four minutes after the interval knocked the last gasp of fight out of them. Skem’s fifth with its element of luck merely made up the scoresheet with their place already convincingly assured into the second round.
Skem’s first goal on the half hour looked a cracker at the time, though it paled into insignificance when matched with what was to follow. A ruck of players crowded on the edge of the penalty area, Peter Hardcastle took a cool look at the situation, slipped a pass to Paul Clements who slipped in Ted Dicken and saw the ball clip inside of the post. The roars had hardly faded before Alan McDermott broke up a Spenny attack pushed the ball to Alan Wolfe who took hit in his stride from 25 yards, keeper Robson had the angle but the venomous power sent the ball hurtling past him for White Moss Park’s Goal of the Season.
The second period was four minutes old when Wolfe sliced up a Spennymoor build up, lofted the ball into the middle where Dicken soared high but could not reach it, the ball fell to Clements on the edge of the area curling the ball with his instep across the face of the goal and saw it creep inside the far post. Five minutes later and it was Clemmo again, this time the least impressive goal of the 90 minutes when he slid the ball through a ruck of players after an Alan Wolfe corner. Spennymoor pulled one back through Parker sliding the ball under Crosbie. It was all too late and five minutes before the final whistle the Clements genius made itself felt with a delicate chip to the near post where Robson made a frantic attempt to get the ball clear. It ran into the path of Hardcastle who crashed the ball goalwards and Alan Swift hurtling in saw it cannon of his outstretched leg into an empty goal.
Two weeks later and the fans again flocked to White Moss Park, United were drawn at home to unknown Sutton Coldfield Town of the Midland League and United were well and truly on the march to Wembley for a second time when Sutton Coldfield crashed at White Moss Park.
A GULF OF DIFFERENCE IN CLASS
Skelmersdale United 3 Sutton Coldfield 0
January 30th 1971
If there was ever any possibility that a surface more suited to motor bike scrambling could leave Skem wide open to a victim of a giant killing act, it was ruled out long before the freshly laundered kit had disappeared under a coating of mud and water… there was a gulf in class and even the quagmire never levelled Skelmersdale to Sutton’ standards.
Hardcastle, Clements and Dicken with the United goals.
United were now into the third round, where they would again travel up to the North East where they would be up against Tow Law Town. You can find out more next month.
While there is currently no football, you can read more of United’s exploits from years gone by on the club website:
The club would like to thank those that sponsored the club in the current season, Flowtech, T&W Garners, Skem News, AG Auto Body repair, Karl Heating and plumbing, The Safety Team, St James School Ashurst and Skelmersdale Carpets plus all those supporters who have made donations by way of player sponsorships.