It was one of the most famous weekends in Whitby’s history and this month marks 20 years since the remarkable events.
The town had seen tens of thousands flock to the coast to witness the HM Bark Endeavour replica return ‘home’, before Whitby Town FC capped a stunning weekend by clinching victory in the FA Vase final at Wembley.
The front page coverage by this newspaper was featured on national BBC TV news when it divided the page into a welcome to the Endeavour in maritime flag code, on one side, and a cover-mounted Whitby Town flag for the fans, on the other.
The editor at the time –and now – Ed Asquith, said: “It was a magical time for everyone involved, all the Gazette team and the entire town, and Whitby made global headlines.”
As Whitby Town emerged as 3-0 victors over North Ferriby at Wembley on the Saturday, it was the scenes on the previous evening which also still live with visitors to Whitby that day.
We wrote at time that the Endeavour visit was creating a feelgood factor for the area – and so it came to be. It brought in such numbers that it provided an enormous boost to the local economy, with huge investments in the town’s shops and eateries, and with estimates putting the ship’s three-week stay in the harbour as bringing in £5 million.
Coupled with the success of the Heartbeat television series, the Endeavour’s visit brought thousands of new tourists to town.
It is perhaps also fitting that Whitby Town picked up the North Riding Senior Cup in front of a healthy crowd at The Riverside stadium this week. On the big day in 1997, more than 6,000 fans made the trip down to the old Wembley stadium.
Whitby Town chairman – then and now – Graham Manser has said that was “the biggest day in our club’s history”.
What do you remember about that famous weekend? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org