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The Giant Killers

Every F A cup slaying since 1888



1907 - 1909

In 1908 no less than thirteen of the top division's twenty clubs were defeated in the FA Cup by lower division opposition. A century later this figure remains a record number for a single season. Not surprisingly three of the four semi finalists were from outside the elite division and the cup itself was won by a second tier club.

Leicester Fosse 2-0 Blackburn Rovers

First round: 11th January 1908

Attendance: 16,000

Scorers: Percy Humphreys, Bob Pollock {pen} half time {1-0}

Ranked at the time: 62

Leicester Fosse team: Horace Bailey, Joe Blackett, Harry Thorpe, Billy Leech, Billy Bannister, Bob Pollock, Jimmy Durrant, Fred Shinton, Percy Humphries, Shirley Hubbard, Frank Middleton

Blackburn Rovers team: Willie McIver, Bob Crompton, Jimmy Heywood, James Ferguson, Albert Walmsley, Albert 'Kelly' Houlker, Arnie Whittaker, Jimmy Robertson, Bill 'Tinker' Davies, Eddie Latheron, Billy Bradshaw

1908 marked the year when Leicester Fosse reached the big time as they secured promotion as second division runners up with a team made up largely of seasoned veterans, which included former England Internationals Billy Bannister and Percy Humphries as well as the former Wolves and Derby defender Joe Blackett and ex Stoke man Billy Leech. From the start Leicester were the quicker and more skillful side on the hard wet field and deservedly took the lead midway through the first period through Percy Humphreys. Blackburn's fate as a giant slain for the second consecutive season was assured when their England International defender Bob Crompton felled Shirley Hubbard to give Bob Pollock the chance to seal the victory from the spot. Fosse were themselves the victims of a more minor shock in the second round when they were knocked out at Portsmouth but that was quickly forgotten when promotion was secured for the first time in their history at the end of the season. However Blackburn would enjoy sweet revenge in April the following year when they easily won 4-2 at Filbert Street to help Leicester towards a speedy relegation and thus start the Foxe's reputation as a yo yo club.

New Brompton 3-1 Sunderland

First round: 11th January 1908

Attendance: 10,620

Scorers: {New} Charlie McGibbon-3: {Sunderland} George Holley {half time 1-1}

Ranked at the time: 8

Cup fever reached Gillingham in Kent in late 1907 when an easy qualifying round victory over Shepherds Bush ensured that for the first time in history a top flight club would be visiting Priestfield for an F A cup tie. Sunderland were to be the prestigious visitors, a team full of star studded internationals, albeit performing well below their capabilities in the top flight this season. New Brompton however were also struggling badly in the Southern League and would ultimately finish bottom of the table, avoiding relegation only by virtue of the defection of other clubs to other leagues. The club's most famous representative was the manager Steve Smith, the former England International who had won five league titles and one FA cup in the colours of Aston Villa who, despite this result still parted company with the club at the end of the season. This game would prove to be Gillingham's, as the club would be later known, only giant killing act of the twentieth century and among those in attendance was one Charlie Westwick who, upon his centenary birthday in 1979 could recall the game seventy-one years earlier as if it were yesterday. charlie, who prized among his possessions the shirt worn by hat-trick hero Charlie McGibbon and a photograph showing him and other Brompton fans chairing their goalscorer from the field recalled the events of 1908 to his grandson Danny Westwick.

"Sunderland, First Division giants and one of the wealthiest football clubs in the land, and they were coming to play us. The excitement built through Christmas and the New Year, and at 2 pm on Saturday 11th January the huge expectation became reality. A crowd of 10,620, the biggest so far crammed in. I don't think a lot of them could see much but I made sure I could. I was in the Gordon Road Stand with {his wife and sister/sister in law}. Sunderland took us apart in the early stages and it wasn't a surprise when they went in front {Geroge Holley put Sunderland 1-0 up after twenty-five minutes and had earlier hit the bar for the visitors}, but the crowd went mad when Charlie {McGibbon} soared for a centre and bulletted the ball into the back of the Sunderland net. 1-1 at half time. Game on. In the second half we got more and more on top, Charlie {McGibbon} scrambled one in from a goalmouth melee with about twenty minutes left, and with Sunderland pushing forward for an equaliser he charged through the middle on the counter and smashed the ball under goalkeeper {Bob Ward} as he came out, The place erupted, people were dancing on the pitch, hats were being thrown in the air. We easily negotiated the last few minutes as darkness closed in and when the final whistle confirmed our 3-1 victory we swarmed onto the pitch and carried the players shoulder high to the dressing room. I lost my companions in all the chaos but we met up later all right. Everyone was on an incredible high, all sort of celebrations went on all over the town - and long into the night too I can tell you." {nine months later Charlie's wife gave birth to a son!}

The remainder of New Brompton's cup run is naturally recorded in the history books but is still best described in Charlie's own words.

"In the second round we were away to another First Division side, Manchester City. They were third in the table so it was a colossal ask for a team from the Southern league. Bert {a friend} really worked the oracle on the train warrants, eight of us first class all the way on a tedious train journey which we started well before dawn. City were playing at Hyde Road then, and what a trip from the station across Moss Side to get there. Slums like you couldn't imagine. the crowd of 16,000 was the biggest that had ever watched us play, and City ripped into us right from the off. Up front Charlie McGibbon hardly got a touch and when City went ahead {Welsh International Lot Jones scoring} we thought it was the start of an avalanche. It wasn't. We stood firm and slowly ground them down, reducing them to long range efforts that John Martin dealt with comfortably. Then, in the second half Charlie {McGibbon} got our only chance of the game and he buried it. We couldn't believe it and nor could anyone else. There was stunned silence before things started to get a bit nasty. The thought of getting back to the station in one piece now became a priority, so when the final whistle went we melted away with our 1-1 draw. {Considering Charlie was reminiscing an event seventy-one years earlier his memory is to be commended but the press of the day recorded that New Brompton scored first and led at half time}. The team was on the train home and, needless to say there was real confidence about turning them over in the replay four days later.

It was not to be. the replay on Wednesday afternoon 5th February broke the ground record again. the town more or less closed down as 12,000 crammed in. Schools shut for the afternoon and the kids were allowed to sit cross-legged along the touchline. Unfortunately the game was a bit of an anti-climax. City showed their First Division pedigree, closed us down well and probed for the openings. Goals either side of half time {from James Buchan and John Wood}, pretty well sealed it, but we had a chance when one of their defenders handled in the box. Up stepped Charlie {McGibbon} for the penalty and he crashed it home. We lost 1-2 but it had been a great cup run.

Reproduced by kind permission: Danny Westwick. The full memoirs of Charlie Westwick can be found at the Gillingham fanzine website Brian Moore's Head

Norwich City 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday

First round: 11th January 1908

Attendance: 10,366

Scorers: James Beauchop, Tommy Allsopp

Ranked at the time: 3

Birmingham 1-2 West Bromwich Albion

First round replay: Wednesday 15th January 1908


Scorers: {Birmingham} Edmund Eyre: {West} Harry Wilcox, Rev Willie Jordan

Ranked at the time: 68

Any victory over the city rivals is sweet but surely there can be none sweeter than when your long suffering fans are enduring a spell in the lower divisions when they humble the top flight aristocrats. Albion may have had the greater heritage than their rivals but a cup run to the semi finals in 1907 did nothing other than to prove that if they could get promotion back to the top flight after an absence of four years then they were capable of beating top flight teams. Birmingham came into the tie at The Hawthorns encouraged by a run of four consecutive draws that extended into a seven game unbeaten league run, which offered hope of a successful fight against relegation. In front of 40,000 Albion had found themselves a goal and a man down inside three minutes, Timmin's game and season ended through a knew injury. The Baggies battled on to salvage a reply at St Andrews which they won through no little help of divine intervention as the winner was scored by a reverend, the English amateur international Willie Jordan. To add insult to Birmingham's injury Harry Wilcox had formerly played for the blues. Albion themselves fell prey to a cup upset in round two when Southern League Southampton sent them crashing out. Despite stretching their league unbeaten run to eleven games, Birmingham still were relegated which meant Albion returning for a league game on December 28th. This time the sides fought out a tame goal-less draw.

Grimsby Town 2-1 Bristol City

First round replay: Wednesday 15th January 1908

Attendance: 7,000

Scorers: {Grimsby} Abel Lee, Bob Blanthorne {image right}: {Bristol} Frank Hilton

Ranked at the time: 36

This tie may have been lost a little in the wake of the other major results on First Round day but for Grimsby to go to Ashton Gate and leave with a hard fought replay from a goal-less draw was an astounding performance considering the team had not won in ten Second Division outings, of which the last eight had all ended in defeat. Back at Blundell Park, City were expected to make amends, despite a poor run of form in their own right. Grimsby wouldn't be denied however and booked a Second Round tie against Lancashire Combination side Carlisle United in which Bob Blanthorne {above} had a field day, netting five of the six goals in a 6-2 victory. Southern League Crystal Palace were also disposed of in the next round, no doubt to the huge relief of Grimsby's quarter final opponents Newcastle who, in this era seemed to turn to jelly at the very mention of the name that club shared with the cup final venue. Grimsby's big day out on Tyneside went a bit flat when they were hammered 1-5. Grimsby's League form remained awful, though thankfully they were fortunate to find two sides worse than they in the Second Division to avoid the dreaded re-election campaign. It was only a stay of execution though as Grimsby lost their league status in 1910.

Town: 1:Walter Scott, 2:Sid Wheelhouse, 3:John Vincent, 4:Abel Lee {Evans}, 5:Martin Higgins, 6:Albert Hatton, 7:Paddy Stokes, 8:Amos Kilbourne, 9:Bob Blanthorpe, 10:Tommy Hakin, 11:Harry Fletcher

City: 1:Albert Talbot-Lewis, 2:Archie Annan, 3:Joe Cottle, 4:Arthur Speer, 5:Billy Wedlock, 6:Pat Hanlin, 7:Fred Staniforth, 8:Willie Maxwell, 9:Sammy Gilligan, 10:Andy Burton, 11:Frank Hilton

Hull City 4-1 Woolwich Arsenal

First round replay: Thursday 16th January1908

Attendance: 16,000

Scorers: {Hull} Joe Shaw-2, Arthur Temple, Jackie Smith: {Arsenal} Peter Kyle

Ranked at the time: 47

The day after two top flight sides had met their Waterloo so now Woolwich Arsenal put their head back on the block having failed to see off second division Hull at Plumstead the previous Saturday. For Hull, formed just four years earlier, that had been their first ever competitive encounter with elite opposition and they had left London delighted with a 0-0 draw and now relishing the prospect of a record gate at their Anlaby Road ground. 16,000 attended and watched as much in shock as delight as Hull not only defeated Arsenal but took them apart in the process. The main hero was Joe Shaw formerly of Liverpool who scored a brace in their 4-1 victory. Aston Villa proved too good in round two but Hull's reputation as a second division side to be respected was established.

City: 1:Martin Spendiff, 2:George 'Tot' Hedley, 3:Jack McQuillan, 4:George Browell, 5:William Robinson, 6:Frank Martin, 7:Joe 'Stanley' Smith, 8:Jackie Smith, 9:Joe Shaw, 10:Arthur Temple, 11:Gordon Wright

Arsenal: 1:Jimmy Ashcrost, 2:Archie Gray, 3:Jimmy Sharp, 4:Andy Ducat, 5:Percy Sands, 6:Roddy MacEachrane, 7:Billy Garbutt, 8:TimColeman, 9:Peter Kyle, 10:Jackie Mordue, 11:David Neave

Sheffield United 2-3 Swindon Town

First round replay: Thursday 16th January 1908 {after extra time}

Attendance: 19,566

Scorers: {Sheffield} Arthur Brown, Bert Lipsham: {Swindon} Frank Warburton, Billy Tout, Jimmy Johnston

Ranked at the time: 33

11,000 had gathered at the County ground the previous Saturday to see struggling United take on Southern League Swindon Town who hadn't won an FA cup tie in the competition proper for over twenty years. The visitors held on for a memorable goal-less draw to earn a trip to Bramall Lane the following Thursday. The underdogs had silenced the home crowd by taking a first half lead, which they still held when their legendary former Rangers stalwart Jock Wallace had to be carried off. Another legend in the making was having his first season at the club, Harold Fleming who takes up the story

"In the second half we had the misfortune to lose Jock Walker, our left full-back, with a badly bruised thigh, brought about by an accidental kick by one of the opposing forwards. he had to leave the field and, to all intents and purposes, was finished for the game. Meanwhile, out on the field, we did our best, but we were gradually worn down and when United took the lead {Bert Lipsham} about twenty minutes from time the match seemed over {unmentioned is that Arthur Brown equalised after Walker left the field}. Then Billy Tout, our right half-back, received the ball about thirty yards from goal and, pushing it forward with one foot, let drive from well outside the penalty area. It was a regular pile driver and although the United goalkeeper covered the angle, owing to the state of the ground and the slippery nature of the ball, it was only deflected and as it dropped to the ground, we all saw that it had dropped over the goal line........ Jock Walker, who by this time was half-dressed in the dressing room, heard that we had scored the goal, he started to take off his clothes, told the trainer to get some whisky and he then stood on the table whilst the whisky was rubbed into his bruised thigh and pummeled by the closed fist of the trainer. It must have been agony, in fact I was told that the tears simply streamed down his cheeks because the pain was so intense, but he stuck it and, when the whistle blew for the start of the extra time, Jock Walker came trotting onto the field." As appeared in the Swindon Town Football Annual 1948/49, Courtesy of

Restored to a full compliment, Swindon's Jimmy Johnston silenced the ground in the second period of extra time to shatter the home side. Swindon ultimately bowed out in the third round at eventual cup winners Wolves while Harold Fleming would go on to play for Swindon for the next fifteen years. Today a street outside the ground bears his name while his statue greets visitors to the County Ground.

SHEFFIELD UNITED: Joe Lievesley, Bob Benson, Charles Johnson, Billy Wilkinson, Bernard Wilkinson, Ernest Needham, George Thompson, Wally Hardinge, Arthur Brown, Billy Bromage, Bert Lipsham {Manager - John Nicholson}

SWINDON TOWN: Archie Ling, Jimmy Gill, Jock Walker, Billy Tout, Charlie Bannister, Peter Chambers, Jimmy Johnston, Johnny Kidd, Bertie Lyon, Fred Warburton, Harold Fleming {Manager - Sam Allen}

Image: Swindon Town 1907/08, courtesy of

Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 Preston North End

First round second replay: Monday 20th January 1908


Scorer: Dick Wombwell

Ranked at the time: 3

Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Bury

Second round: 1st February 1908


Scorers: Walter Radford {2}

Ranked at the time: 43

Fulham 3-1 Manchester City

Third round replay: Wednesday 26th February 1908

Attendance: 38,000

Scorers: {Fulham} Harry Ross, Fred Harrison, Bob Dalrymple: {Manchester} John Wood

Ranked at the time: 19

Fulham 2-1 Manchester United

Quarter final: 7th March 1908

Attendance: 45,000

Scorers: {Fulham} Fred Harrison [10], [63] : {Manchester} Jimmy Turnbull [56]

Ranked at the time: 10

Since their first giant killing act three years earlier Fulham had been granted admission to the Football League and it was as a second division side that they pulled off a double whammy against both title chasing Manchester sides. The Cottagers had put paid to the gallant hopes of non-leagues Norwich in round two to earn a trip to a windswept Hyde Road where a draw was considered a fair result. The draw for the quarter finals had the city of Manchester buzzing with City, once the irritation of Fulham was disposed of, being drawn at home to local rivals Manchester United. A record crowd of 38,000 were at Craven Cottage to see the dream shattered in emphatic style. An even bigger crowd crammed in for the quarter final just over a week later with league leaders United now visiting but the Gods favoured Fulham as Fred Harrison scored two fortuitous goals. the first he knew little about as a United clearance bounced off the onrushing striker into the net. The second was very similar though this time Harrison had to stick out a leg to divert the ball home. In between United equalised and were denied the victory many predicted thanks to the heroics of keeper Leslie Skene. Fulham's first ever cup semi final proved a huge anti climax when, at Anfield, Skene was injured early on and Newcastle took full advantage to rack up a record 6-0 semi final scoreline.

Southampton 3-2 Everton

Quarter final replay: Wednesday 11th March 1908


Scorers: {Southampton} Frank Costello-2, John Bainbridge: {Everton} Hugh Bolton, Sandy Young {Half time 2-1}

Ranked at the time: 19

Southampton traveled to Goodison Park for their quarter final tie hoping to pull off their tenth upset of a top flight club in the last decade and no Evertonian would dare take them for granted, the Toffeemen having already been on the wrong end of an upset to Southampton eight years earlier. Everton were bidding to reach their third consecutive final and went into the game as the bookies favourites to win the competition outright and after a laboured first half performance in which John Bainbridge had a goal chalked off for the visiting Saints, Everton upped the gears and battered their opponents goal. Saint's keeper Herbert Lock was in inspired form with a string of fine saves, in particular one in the dying seconds when it seemed certain Everton would score. The Toffeemen were again sluggish in the first half or the replay but this time found themselves 1-2 down at the interval and even though they again started well in the second half Southampton were much better than their showing at Goodison and settled the tie in sensational fashion when Frank Costello's acrobatic diving header from an almost impossible angle flew past the Irish international keeper Billy Scott. A quick response from Sandy Young set up a nervous finish but for the second time in a decade Southampton had taken the scalp of Everton in the cup. There was real hope of Southampton reaching the final when they managed to avoid the one remaining top flight team in the semi finals, being drawn to play second division Wolverhampton Wanderers but they like Fulham in the other tie, were robbed of their first choice keeper, Lock, who missed the game entirely as Wolves won through 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.

Newcastle United 1-3 Wolverhampton Wanderers

The 1908 F A Cup Final

@ Crystal Palace, London: 25th April 1908

Attendance - 74,967

Scorers: {Newcastle} Jimmy Howie [73]: {Wolverhampton} Kenneth Hunt [40], George Hedley [43], Billy Harrison [85]

Ranked at the time: 26

Wolves became only the third side to take the cup out of the top flight in the twenty years since the league was founded in a game well documented in both print and internet. For the record the game was played in sleety conditions with Newcastle dominating for long periods before Kenneth Hunt, an Oxford blue, English amateur international and soon to be ordained Anglican priest saw his shot squirm in despite Jimmy Lawrence getting a hand to it. George Hedley, a veteran of Sheffield United's great cup exploits of nearly a decade earlier, quickly doubled the lead before United could recover. The Magpies dominated the second period and got back in the game through Jimmy Howie but they were hit by Billy Harrison's late sucker punch which illuminated an otherwise dark period in the Wolve's history.

Newcastle United: Jimmy Lawrence, Billy McCracken, Dick Pudan, Alec Gardner, Colin Veitch, Bill Appleyard, Finlay Speedie, George Wilson

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Tommy Lunn, Jackery Jones, Ted Collins, Kenneth Hunt, Billy Wooldridge, Albert Bishop, Billy Harrison, Jack Shelton, George Hedley, Walter Radford, Jack Pedley

Background image: Wolve's 1908 F A cup winners