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1966/67 - Goal Ace Beats Deadline by Four Minutes

Posted: Sun 19 Mar 2017
Author: Des Hinks

We All Live in a Champions Town

We continue our series of articles looking back on our glorious 1966-67 Fourth Division title-winning season. Today we turn the clock back to this weekend in March 1967, when County travelled to Halifax Town.

Goal Ace Beats Deadline by Four Minutes

The 2-0 victory at Port Vale had lifted everyone at Edgeley Park ahead of a second-successive away game, at Halifax.

And that mood of optimism was boosted further following one of the most dramatic signings in our illustrious history.

There were just four minutes remaining on transfer-deadline day when County completed the signing of Bill Atkins in an exchange deal with Halifax, who picked up David Shawcross and around £5,000.

This, though, was only part of the drama as Shawcross was a key element in the deal and the Hatters had spent 12 worrying hours trying to find him. He was finally located at a friend's house at 10pm and immediately rushed to Edgeley Park.

Said chairman, Vic Bernard: "We had people in cars and even the police trying to trace him. We'd asked the Halifax party to come over on the off chance, but I had almost given up hope."

The final points of the deal were still to be ironed out, and there were just 240 seconds to go when the papers were finally signed!

And, for an unusual twist to finish the story, Atkins and Shawcross would then play against each other at the weekend with County scheduled to travel to West Yorkshire to face the Shaymen on the Saturday.

Atkins' debut, in place of Shawcross, was the only change from the eleven that won at Vale Park, and the tall striker made an immediate impact. There were just five minutes on the clock when he challenged Town 'keeper' Malcolm White and the ball ran to the edge of the area. Peter Jones crossed back into the box for Derek Kevan to twist in mid air to head his first County goal.

In their preview to the game, the Halifax Evening Courier had noted that County's record of conceding just 16 goals on their travels was the best of all 92 Football League clubs, and the home side rarely looked like adding to that tally with Captain Colossus, Matt Woods, so dominant at the back Steve Fleet in the Hatters' goal had a relatively quiet afternoon.

Quiet couldn't be used to describe the County following, though! Monday's Halifax Courier included a picture of the car park at the Shay showing row after row of North Western coaches. Once again thousands of Hatters' fans had travelled to support their team, swelling the attendance to a season's best 6,159.

And it was a happy bunch of fans that travelled back to Mersey Square following the news that nearest rivals, Southport, Tranmere and Southport had all dropped points.
With a game in hand over second-placed Southport, County would enter the crucial Easter period of three games in four days with a three point lead at the top of the table.

Next up was the Good Friday derby at Crewe Alexandra when around 7,000 County fans travelled across Cheshire to completely takeover Gresty Road ... we'll tell you all about it next week!