A STATUE to commemorate a village football team winning the first “World Cup” moved a significant step closer after planners gave it the go-ahead yesterday.
Durham County Council’s planning committee unanimously approved the statue on West Auckland village green to commemorate the achievement 103 years ago.
The £184,000 statue will be 2.2m high and stand on a four-metre-high plinth with a seat around it.
Designed by London-based artist Nigel Boonham, it will feature the figure of a miner and a footballer and will be placed where the village’s Christmas tree is presently sited.
Work on the plans started in 2009, which was the centenary of the year a team of miners from West Auckland went to Italy to compete for the Sir Thomas Lipton trophy.
Thanks to funding from the Arts Council, three artists came forward with potential designs for the artwork in honour of the local club’s achievements.
Mr Boonham, who created the bronze statue of Cardinal Basil Hume which stands outside St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle, was chosen ahead of designs from Lucy Glendinning and Mark Merer.
His statue was chosen by a steering group of local people, along with Groundwork North East and Durham County Council. It is hoped it will be erected next April.
The first ever World Cup featured four teams and was arranged by the tea magnate and philanthropist Sir Thomas Lipton to celebrate “the beautiful game”.
The competition, which attracted teams from Germany and Switzerland as well as the host nation and England, was repeated in Turin two years later.
Not only did West Auckland surprise everyone by winning it in 1909, they also retained the trophy in 1911 beating Juventus 6-1 in the final.
Durham county councillor Rob Yorke said: “It has taken a long time, but this bronze sculpture will immortalise West Auckland Football Club’s achievements for generations to come.”
Coun John Shuttleworth said: “The first ever World Cup is still talked about and it is only fitting that the team's achievement, which put West Auckland on the map, is commemorated in the village.”
It has taken a long time, but this will immortalise West Auckland Football Club’s achievements