1920-21 FA CUP

BY Vince Cooper

The 1921 FA Cup final was held at Stamford Bridge the second year that the West London ground had the honour of staging the culmination of the competition. And this time the ‘Ol’ Tin Pot’ stayed in London.

The 1st Round proper of the competition took place on January 8th and an action-packed day attracted a total attendance of over 800,000 confirming the competition’s continuing popularity.

Four non-league clubs made it through to the 1st Round but by the end of the day two were left standing. Lancashire Combination team Eccles United suffered a 5-1 beating at 3rd Division Southend United while Bath City of the Western League lost 3-0 at 2nd Division Hull City.

Darlington of the North East League lasted a few days more. A 2-2 draw with Blackpool at Feethams sent the pair to Bloomfield Road where the 2nd Division side prevailed 2-1.

Lincoln City had failed to win re-election at the end of the 1919-20 season despite the league being expanded from two divisions to three. They were therefore competing in the Midland League (which they would win and be re-promoted from at the end of the season as the league increased in size yet again from three to four divisions).

The Imps looked to have been given a tough task with a trip to London’s East End to play a Millwall team that hadn’t conceded a goal in 11 home games but they responded superbly to record a 3-0 win in front of 31,580 fans.

After being treated to dinner at the Regent Palace Hotel by the city’s M.P. Mr A Davies the team returned to Lincoln on Sunday with crowds lining the streets and cheering to welcome their heroes home.

Six of the 1st round matches attracted crowds of over 40,000 with the highest being at St James’s Park where 47,652 saw 2nd Division Nottingham Forest earn a replay with a 1-1 draw. They led for a long time thanks to a goal from future Newcastle player Harry Bedford but the home team got a late equaliser through Neil Harris 

Forest ‘sold’ the right to play the replay at the City Ground and Newcastle made no mistake at the second time of asking, recording a 2-0 win.

The other big North-East club also had a large turnout. There were 41,293 at Roker Park and they saw Sunderland shocked by 2nd Division Cardiff City whose centre-forward George Beare got the only goal.

The big match of the day then, as it would be now, saw Liverpool take on Manchester United at Anfield in front of 45,000. Scot Tom Miller scored for United to cancel out Harry Chambers’s strike for the hosts and force a replay.

Ted Partridge gave United the lead when the teams met again but strikes from Bill Lacey and Chambers saw Liverpool fight back to win and set up a 2nd Round clash at Newcastle.

Another big attendance came at Ewood Park where 45,000 were on hand to see Blackburn Rovers take on 2nd Division Fulham. Percy Dawson put the home team ahead. But Donald Cock, brother of England international Jack got the leveller which forced a second match in London.

There were over 23,000 at Craven Cottage when the teams met again and they saw Fulham edge to a 1-0 win thanks to a header from right-winger Billy McDonald.

Holders Aston Villa overcame Bristol City 2-0 at Villa Park in front of 40,000 fans with Clem Stephenson and Billy Walker getting the goals whilst 45,000 were at Hillsborough to see The Wednesday knock West Ham United by a single goal in an all-2nd Division clash.

Queen’s Park Rangers players prepare for their match with Arsenal at Saltwater baths in Southend

The ‘house full’ signs were up at Loftus Road as 3rd Division Queen’s Park Rangers welcomed London rivals Arsenal. Gunners boss Leslie Knighton admitted that their opponents were a good 3rd Division team but added that there was; “A difference between 1st and 3rd Division styles of play.”

Fans at Loftus Road for QPR v Arsenal

But the crowd of 20,000 didn’t witness the difference. Instead they saw a huge upset as the home team ousted their top-flight rivals, winning 2-0 on a pitch described as ‘a quagmire’.

Right-winger Arthur Chandler put the home team in front in the first period and Jack Smith confirmed the win when he bundled goalkeeper Ernest Williamson and the ball into the net.

In South London an even bigger shock occurred in front of 18,500 fans at Selhurst Park as second half goals from Ben Bateman and Bertie Menlove saw another 3rd Division team. Crystal Palace, oust Manchester City who would go on to finish runners-up in the top flight.

And the shocks didn’t end there. Brighton & Hove Albion, also of the 3rd tier, ousted top flight Oldham Athletic 4-1, Zach March and Jack Doran each scoring twice and 2nd Division Notts County put three past reigning league champs West Bromwich Albion without reply before 33,000 fans at Meadow Lane.

Jack Cook gave County the lead and a brace from Sammy Stevens confirmed the win over an Albion team that would go from first place in the league in 1919-20 to 14th in ‘20-‘21.

Yet another 3rd Division team, Swindon Town, got the better of top-flight opposition when a Harold Fleming goal proved enough to see them past Sheffield United.

Reading put the Chelsea goal under pressure

Chelsea narrowly escaped the cull of 1st-tier teams. It took them three matches to get past Reading who were struggling near the foot of the 3rd Division, eventually winning the second replay 3-1.

Fans at Elm Park for Reading’s match with Chelsea

The scoring feats of the round came at White Hart Lane where Spurs thrashed Bristol Rovers 6-2 and at Filbert Street where 1st Division champions-to be Burnley’s 7-3 win over Leicester included five from Scottish centre-forward Joe Anderson.

In the 2nd Round non-league survivors Lincoln were handed a match with Fulham at Sincil Bank. The home team, in troubled financial waters, increased admission prices for the game but still welcomed 12,618 to the ground, bringing in much-needed gate receipts of £1,637 18s and justifying the decision not to switch it to Craven Cottage.

In a tight, tough match, Lincoln had claims for a win when they were denied a late penalty but it finished goalless.

They tried to play five days later but the game was called off due to heavy fog and it was eventually replayed nine days after the first match when Fulham won through thanks to the only goal when a Harry Morris shot was fumbled into his own net by City goalkeeper Robert Bainbridge.

Consolation for the Imps came in a share of the £1,100 receipts generated by a 16,000 crowd.

Jimmy Cantrell of Spurs goes for goal against Bradford City

Spurs took on Bradford City in an all-Division One clash at White Hart Lane and struggled throughout a goalless first half. But within two minutes of the restart home fans among the 39,048 crowd had plenty to cheer about as Jimmy Seed scored twice and from then on it was plain sailing.

Seed later went on to complete his hat trick and Jimmy Banks added a fourth to complete an eventually comfortable win.

The biggest attendance of the 2nd Round again came at St James’s Park where 61,043 saw a Neil Harris goal prove enough to see Newcastle United past Liverpool.

Some of the 3rd Division teams that made superb progress in the 1st Round saw their runs come to an abrupt end. Crystal Palace lost at home to Hull City, Queen’s Park Rangers fell to a 4-2 defeat at a Burnley team who had gone five months without losing (with Joe Anderson scoring two more to go alongside his five in the first round), Brighton lost a replay at Cardiff 1-0 with Arthur Cashmore scoring the only goal after a 0-0 draw at the Goldstone Ground where the home team’s cause was hampered with the loss of wing-half John Bollington with a broken leg, and Swindon Town, missing the influential Harold Fleming who was injured fell 2-0 at home to Chelsea in front of a ground record crowd of 20,561 paying record receipts of £2,105.

Higginbotham scores for Luton against South Shields

But four clubs from the third tier did survive. Luton Town who had got the better of 2nd Division Birmingham in the 1st Round continued their progress with a 4-0 win at another 2nd Division team, South Shields.

Southend at their training camp before the match with Blackpool

Having seen off Eccles United, Southend’s sights were raised considerably when they welcomed 2nd Division Blackpool to Roots Hall. But they rose to the challenge seeing off their Lancashire rivals thanks to a disputed Joe Dorsett goal.

Plymouth Argyle won at fellow 3rd Division Swansea Town whilst at The Dell, Southampton got the better of Grimsby Town 3-1 in another all-third tier clash.

Having beaten the champions in the 1st Round Notts County were drawn to face cup holders Aston Villa in the 2nd and came close to pulling off a second shock.

After a goalless draw at Meadow Lane, County travelled to Villa Park for the replay. With 45,000 in attendance the pair fought out a tight encounter with the visitors having their chances but Villa claiming the winner through Billy Walker to set up a 3rd Round rematch of the previous year’s final against Huddersfield Town.

Wolves, struggling near the foot of the 2nd Division, were drawn to visit Derby County, in similar straits in the top tier. Wolves were saved in the first match by an own goal which salvaged a 1-1 draw before edging through 1-0 in the replay with Dick Richards providing the only goal.

There were two big all-1st Division clashes in the 3rd Round. Both attracted huge crowds and both went to the home team.

The rematch of the previous season’s final took place at Villa Park and 60,627 saw Aston Villa eliminate Huddersfield Town to repeat the previous year’s success.

Villa struck early. Billy Walker scored twice within the first five minutes, the first from the penalty spot, to leave the visitors with a mountain to climb.

Huddersfield had chances to get back in the game but Sam Hardy in the Villa goal proved equal to anything the visitors could throw at him and the home team held on for a deserved win.

Goodison Park welcomed 58,000 fans and Everton welcomed Newcastle, and beat them convincingly. Former Sunderland man Charlie Crossley no doubt took extra pleasure in his two goals for the home team and Welshman Stan Davies also found the net to ensure comfortable progress for the Toffees.

The round also contained perhaps the biggest surprise of the competition as champions-elect Burnley were comprehensively beaten at 2nd Division Hull City.

Admittedly Burnley were without injured Scottish pair Joe Anderson and George Halley but that hardly accounts for the 3-0 loss in front of 25,000 fans at The Circle, as the ground at Anlaby Road was known.

Burnley had been unbeaten in all competitions since September but Hull after initially appearing a little overawed and being stretched by their star-studded opponents gradually found their feet and started to create chances of their own.

Just seconds before half-time the breakthrough came. Mike Gilhooley broke through the Burnley half-back line and laid the ball off to Tom Brandon who coolly slotted past Jerry Dawson.

One might have expected Burnley to come out firing in the second-half but, lacking the penetration of Anderson they rarely threatened the Hull goal. Instead it was City who continued to boss the game and converted full-back Brandon added a second before Harry Wilson raced through the Clarets defence to secure a win that was thoroughly deserved and, if anything, could have been by more.

Hull had gone eight matches without a goal back in September and this was when they switched Brandon, son of a cup winning full-back – also Tom – who played for the winning Blackburn Rovers team back in 1891 – to inside-right

A further second-tier success came at Craven Cottage where Wolves recorded a single-goal success over fellow 2nd Division side Fulham.

The only goal came 15 minutes from the end when former Manchester United man Arthur Potts fired home through a crowded penalty area after the ball had come out to him from a corner.

3rd Division interest in the competition was ended with the defeat of all four remaining clubs

The quartet were all given home draws but failed to overcome higher-ranked opponents although Plymouth in particular came close.

Fans at Root Hall for the Southend United v Spurs tie

Southend were drawn to host Spurs and, no doubt because of the decision to raise admission prices (some seats were as much as one guinea) the attendance was a disappointing 11,600.

The Shrimpers started fast. They had an effort disallowed for offside then took the lead through George Nicholls after 15 minutes and held it until just before the interval when 38-year-old centre forward Jimmy Cantrell levelled. The home team had an immediate chance to restore their lead when they were awarded a penalty 

The second-half was a different story as the superior fitness of the Londoners came into play and the home team seemed to suffer from the penalty miss. Jimmy Banks, Bert Bliss and Jimmy Seed all scored for Spurs to make the final victory margin 4-1 and see Peter McWilliam’s team safely through to the last eight.

The gates were closed 40 minutes before kick-off at Kenilworth Road with 17,000 inside for the tie between Luton Town and Preston North End. Another 600+ later made their way in after breaking down some pailings at the side entrance.

They saw an exciting match. Tommy Roberts put Preston two up and also hit the bar as North End dominated but the home team fought back to draw level with Harry Higginbotham scoring twice. Then Roberts completed his hat-trick – thanks to a mistake by Luton ‘keeper Harry Bailey who allowed the ball to slip out of his hands and roll into the net – and all this before half-time.

The second period saw Luton press for another equaliser but the North End defence held on well, despite being reduced to 10 men when full-back Sandy Doolan was carried off injured.

Southampton welcomed Cardiff City to The Dell and the Welsh club continued their fine record record of not conceding a goal in the tournament whilst managing to score the one needed to progress when Jimmy Gill struck after 20 minutes in front of 21,363 fans.

A Plymouth defender clears against Chelsea

Almost 30,000 were at Home Park to see Plymouth Argyle take on Chelsea. The home team had slightly the better of things but couldn’t find a goal although the woodwork saved the Londoners on one occasion.

A goalless draw meant a return at Stamford Bridge where, in front of 59,871 fans, the teams again could not be separated with neither managing to find the net despite extra time being played.

So a 3rd meeting was necessary and with the clubs unable to agree on a venue, the FA decided on Bristol City’s Ashton Gate ground.

The teams again fought a very even battle and then about halfway through the second period Bill Toms found the net for Plymouth to break the deadlock. The West Country team retained the advantage and looked set to cause a shock until Scot Bobby McNeill grabbed an equaliser with just seven minutes remaining.

With more extra time looking likely Chelsea attacked on the left and another Scot, Jimmy Croal scored the winner.

There was a crowd of 26,000 at the match in Bristol bringing the total attendance for the three fixtures to over 107,000.

And so we reached the quarter-final stage where things got incredibly tight. Five matches (including one replay) four goals as the focus seemed to change from wanting to win and go through to wanting not to lose and go out.

As always the turnouts were fantastic and nowhere more than at Goodison where 50,263 were there to see title-challenging Everton take on mid-table 2nd Division Wolves.

And they saw a real turn-up with the visitors taking the spoils thanks to the only goal from centre-forward George Edmonds.

For a team that relied largely on homegrown players Edmonds, along with skipper Vic Godfrey was a rare big-money signing with both signed from Watford in 1920 for fees of £1,500 each. 

After the goal the Wolves defence, with reserve ‘keeper Noel George replacing the injured Teddy Peers and having a fine game, held off their expensively assembled opponents to secure a last-four spot.

Cardiff City v Chelsea

And the 2nd Division successes didn’t end with Wolves. Cardiff City welcomed Chelsea and 45,000 fans to South Wales.

Ninian Park – Packed!

The team from the principality started the game with a flourish and centre-forward Arthur Cashmore gave them the lead after just five minutes finishing off a move started by Billy Hardy and should have doubled it soon after, missing an opportunity when one-on-one with ‘keeper James Molyneux.

City, with half-backs Hardy, Fred Keenor and Bert Smith running the game, continued to dominate and should have ended the half more than one up.

In the second period the Welsh team concentrated on holding their lead which they did with some comfort reaching their first-ever semi-final without conceding a single goal and removing the FA’s fears that Chelsea would be competing in the final on their own Stamford Bridge ground.

There was nearly a third 2nd Division team in the last four with Hull City battling to a goalless draw against Preston at Anlaby Road in front of a record 30,000 crowd.

In fact the game was moderate with the visitors having the better of things and ‘The Pilgrim’, writing in the Athletic News claimed that the band was out of step with general feeling of the match when they played the popular song ‘The End Of A Perfect Day’ at the final whistle.

The replay at Deepdale was also played in front of a packed house with spectators massed along the touchline.

Preston again held the upper hand with the single-goal victory, courtesy of a Frank Jefferies strike after just 12 minutes, not really evidence of their superiority over City.

Alex Hunter saves for Spurs against Aston Villa

The only all-top flight clash came at White Hart Lane where holders Aston Villa saw their bid for a repeat come to an end with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Spurs who gained revenge for their defeat at the same stage the season before.

Having succumbed to Villa twice in the league the Londoners were underdogs for the match despite home advantage and most of the crowd of 51,991 cheering them on. But they comprehensively outplayed their rivals and won with something to spare despite only a single-goal margin.

Villa goalkeeper Sam Hardy was beaten after 22 minutes when a cross from Jimmy Dimmock found its way to Jimmy Banks and the inside forward, deputising for the injured Fanny Walden, fired home.

Any hopes of a recovery by the visitors were dealt a blow early in the second half when right-back Jimmy Thompson was injured and he spent the rest of the match as a passenger on the right-wing, barely able to participate.

Spurs comfortably held the advantage through to full-time with Hardy later admitting: “The best team won” as Peter McWilliam’s men kept hopes alive that the trophy would return to London, and to White Hart Lane, twenty years after their previous success.

The semi-final draw ensured that there would be a representative from the 2nd Division in the final with second-tier pair Cardiff City and Wolves matched whilst Spurs would do battle with Preston.

The lower-league pair battled to a goalless draw at Anfield where the 38,000 fans were joined by the King and Queen for the second half.

Wolves, despite being hampered by injuries to Arthur Potts and Alf Riley, had the better of things but City held on, forcing a second match at Old Trafford four days later.

This time Wolves made their superiority count recording a comfortable 3-1 win in front of 45,000 fans.

Sammy Brooks put the Midlanders in front after 13 minutes when ‘keeper Ben Davies spilled a cross at his feet.

Wolves defend against Cardiff

Cardiff had chances to draw level but when the crucial second goal came it was Wolves who doubled their lead when Brooks having scored the first, set up George Edmonds who swept the ball past Davies.

In the second period Wolves defender Maurice Woodward handled and Fred Keenor converted the penalty to give City hope but the Molineux men restored their two-goal cushion with Brooks again playing a hand, this time creating the chance for Dick Richards to score.

Jack Addenbrooke’s team maintained their advantage with few real alarms and made it through to their first final since 1908 when he led them to victory over Newcastle at Crystal Palace.

44,668 were at Hillsborough to see Spurs battle their way through to the final with a 2-1 win.

Preston did their best to disrupt the Londoners and play was described as; ‘with science at a discount’,

The Lancastrians managed to keep their opponents at bay until after the interval when three goals came in the space of just 12 minutes.

Spurs put pressure on the Preston goal

First Bert Bliss shot home after an Arthur Grimsdell cross was headed out to him to give Spurs a lead he soon doubled when supplied by the same player. Preston quickly pulled one back through Frank Jefferis but they never looked likely to equalise and it was the Londoners who went through.

Spurs were greeted by a horde of fans when they arrived back at Marylebone with goalscoring hero Bliss and Jimmy Banks carried shoulder high from the station. Other players including skipper Grimsdell and Jimmy Seed slipped away on the tube to avoid the waiting throng.

Spurs fans on their way to Stamford Bridge

And so it was on to Stamford Bridge with top-flight Spurs firm favourites to capture the trophy.

Spurs stuck with Jimmy Banks at outside-right despite Fanny Walden having recovered from injury whilst Wolves decided that Dickie Baugh hadn’t sufficiently recovered from his injury so continued with Maurice Woodward at right back.

The King meets the Spurs team…

…and the Wolves players

Security men leave with the gate receipts

The match was attended by the King, the Duke of York and Prince Henry with the touring Australian cricket team also among the 72,805 fans who generated English record gate receipts of £13,404.

Heavy rain was falling as the King met with the teams prior to kick-off and the muddy pitch certainly took its toll although there was still plenty of good, fast football played.

Part of the 72,805 crowd

The first 45 minutes saw Spurs on top but they were unable to convert their superiority into goals.

Dimmock’ s goal

The only goal of the match came eight minutes into the second half. Jimmy Dimmock attempted to go around Woodward and the Wolves full-back partially stopped him. The ball was loose and Dimmock was quickest to react driving it past Noel George in the Midlanders’ goal.

Spurs leave Stamford Bridge with the trophy

Spurs remained on top with their opponents having few chances to draw level. Thus the London team, having been the first professional side from the capital to win the trophy also became the second, thanks to a goal scored by the only Londoner in their line-up with Dimmock born in Edmonton, close to the club’s home.

Winning goalscorer Jimmy Dimmock

The King presented the trophy to Grimsdell and the crowd sang the National Anthem followed by ‘For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow’ before Spurs took the trophy back to White Hart Lane and Peter McWilliam followed fellow Scot John Cameron in bringing the trophy to Tottenham.

Arthur Grimsdell shows off the trophy

Spurs fans would have to wait another 40 years before they could welcome the trophy to their White Hart Lane home again.