World-beaters facing Taunton challenge in Vase

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The Independent Football

Taunton Town continue their defence of the FA Carlsberg Vase tomorrow against a team who can claim that they won the World Cup – not once, but twice.

In a story made famous by the 1981 movie A Captain's Tale, the amateurs of West Auckland Town travelled to Turin in 1909 to win a four- nation club tournament.

Then as now members of the Northern League, they met teams from Italy, Germany and Switzerland. They beat Stuttgart 2-0 and, in the final, overcame the Swiss side Winterthur by the same scoreline to lift the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy, named after the British entrepreneur whose dream the competition was, and known at the time and since as the World Cup.

In 1911, West Auckland returned to Turin to defend their trophy. Another 2-0 win over a Swiss side, Red Star, was followed by a 6-1 thrashing of their hosts.

Sir Thomas let them keep his trophy but it was stolen from the West Auckland Working Men's Club in 1994.

In tomorrow's fourth-round Vase tie in Somerset, West Auckland will be hoping for better luck than on a recent visit to the West Country. In 1998 they were thrashed 9-0 at the same stage by the eventual winners, Tiverton Town.

Another Northern League side, Tow Law Town, will be travelling south in style to take on Aldershot-based Ash United.

Middlesbrough have loaned Tow Law their luxury coach for the 600-mile round trip. The double-decker vehicle includes two kitchens, fridges, micro-wave ovens, hot running water plus video and DVD players. Tow Law's assistant secretary, Steve Moralee, said: "This is a wonderful gesture. They have not only saved us great expense, but the players can now look forward to preparing in the right manner."

Boro's commercial manager, Graham Fordy, said: "Middlesbrough started off in the Northern League in the 1890s, and this is a way of showing we haven't forgotten our roots."