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The Giant Killers

Every F A cup slaying since 1888

All time greatest F A cup giant killings

Number 46

Hull City 3-0 Burnley

Third round {last 16}: Saturday 19th February 1921

The Circle, Anlaby Road, Hull

Attendance: 26,000

Scorers: Tom Brandon {44 & 65 minutes}, Harry Wilson

Buster Keaton was starring as a newlywed building a house for he and his new wife, Sybil Seely in the hit comedy, 'One Week' 'Irene' was a west end hit musical starring Edith Day in the title role, Unemployment benefit was increased as the rate of unemployed reached 1 million while the Soviets invaded Georgia.

It was in a backdrop of rising unemployment fears combined with a very real fear that it could lead to a Bolshevist revolution that the F A cup of 1921 kicked off, cited by the press as 'everything that was good about England' and a reason, if ever one were needed, why Bolshevist socialism could never succeed in Britain.

Unlike many of the teams in the second division that hailed from the heavily industrial cities of Yorkshire and Lancashire, Hull, as a city felt confident that it's fishing dependent citizens could ride the oncoming storm of depression, which could even have a positive effect on the citie's team. It was over a decade since the Tigers had come a goal frame's width away from joining the first division elite and now that missed opportunity, viewed at the time as merely delaying their elevation, now looked like a bridge too far as the post war Tigers failed to emulate their pre war counterparts. Indeed as January 1921 dawned, relegation to the newly formed third division was a serious possibility, albeit one which half the second division faced in a wide open relegation battle.

As it often is for such clubs, the cup proved a distraction but on first round day Hull faced a potential banana skin in non league Bath City at Anlaby Road. Any fears the fans had were quickly dismissed by an excellent first half display in which The Tigers roared into a 3-0 lead, which they retained through the second half. Third division promotion chasers, Crystal Palace had been the sensation of the day with their victory over Manchester City and the Hull faithful must have groaned when they opened their newpapers to find they had to travel to Selhurst Park in round two. Fortunately Palace were still riding the wave of the win over Manchester City and Hull were able to take advantage, cruising to a surprisingly comfortable 2-0 victory to move into the last sixteen of the cup.

Having put paid to the minnows and the giant killers, Hull fans now wanted a top flight club at the Circle but they couldn't have dreamed they would draw the best team in the land when paired with title chasing Burnley. The Clarets had managed to hold on to the nucleus of their 1914 cup winning side with the four ex-England internationals Bert Freeman, Eddie Mosscrop, Billy Watson and Tommy Boyle all coming back to Turf Moor after the war along with a fifth member of the cup winning side, Billy Nesbitt but had been unable to bring the title to the town for the first time when finishing easily second best to West Bromwich Albion in 1920. This season The Clarets were making certain with a record breaking run of twenty-six games without defeat before arriving at The Circle. This run included three occasions where they had scored seven goals, including the first round of the cup when Leicester, level on points with Hull, had been put to the sword at home. Top scorer, George Anderson had bagged five of the goals at Filbert Street but when Burnley's charabanc arrived at The Circle Anderson wasn't aboard, having failed to prove his fitness before leaving Turf Moor. Also missing was the highly inflential George Holly, struck down with illness after a recent demoliton of Aston Villa in which The Clarets had again scored seven but English International Bob Kelly was in a side that included the four ex-England men in an all English side.

Hull went into the tie on a run of seven games where only their two cup ties had been won and their recent second division form had seen them draw four of their five recent games and manager, former Raith Rovers player David Menzies named a side, none of whom had ever kicked a ball in earnest at the highest level, although centre forward, Danny McKinney had been named in the Ireland side to face Scotland the following week. Indeed McKinney, who had arrived from Belfast Celtic the previous year, already had a League Championship medal and cup winner's medal, though both had come in the much less competitive Irish League.

26,000 fans made their way out of Hull City centre to the outskirts of Anlaby Road where their stadium was situated. The club had made the ground their home in 1905 after finding life difficult in the neighbouring cricket circle but it had never been the happiest of places for the club with storm damage regularly damaging the fragile accommodation before a fire all but wiped the ground out in 1914. By the time of Burnley's visit a much more impressive structure had risen from the ashes to provide 8,000 fans with cover from the elements.

Despite the economic downturn, plenty of Clarets made the journey across the Penines, no doubt expecting the club to add handsomely to the eleven goals already scored in the opening two cup ties, especially against a side that was totally unknown to top flight fans. The vast majority in the stadium were familiar with the eleven men who took the field in the amber and black stripes and were encouraged by the opening exchanges, especially the running down the wings from Wilson and Crawford, though their play rarely threatened to trouble Jerry Dawson in the Burnley goal.

{image below: Ginger Bell {left} and Sam Cheetham {stripes} keep Burnley forwards Eddie Mosscrop and Bert Freeman {left} at bay}

Burnley's polished half backs and forwards were seeing plenty of the ball but they were failing to find each other with their passing, which served only to put the full backs, Smelt and Jones under pressure creating an edgyness to their game. As the half progressed Hull's confidence increased but they still lacked the goal that their play deserved, though it should have come on the half hour when Sergeaunt's drive forced a good stop from Dawson. The noise levels increased around Anlaby Road and the Hull fans and players alike began to look around them with a feeling that something special was happening. Burnley were desperately in need of a general to take control of the game while the front line looked strangely toothless without the threat of Anderson, instead finding themselves hanging on and playing like a team hoping to get to half time and then regroup and make their superior ability count, which made the timing of the opening goal all the more crucial. With just seconds to go to the interval Mike Gilhooley got the better of the Burnley half back line and drew both full backs onto him before slotting a perfectly timed through ball for Tom Brandon who, with great composure fired past the oncoming Dawson.

The Tigers now had something to defend in the second half but rather than sitting back and offering Burnley the chance to boss the game, Hull instead continued to pile forward and take the game to the champions elect. Burnley were again unable to settle on the ball and their jitters, that were so prevalant in the latter stages of the first half, were still there in the second period. Incredibly the Hull keeper, Billy Mercer remained relatively untroubled as all the action took place in the Burnley half with little sign of the top flight club saving the game while Hull continued to knock on the door for a second a decisive strike to seal the victory, which came with twenty-six minutes remaining. Yet again it was Brandon with the goal as he capped a display far and away better than any of the forty or so previous appearances he had put in for Hull that season.

Even with so much time remaining on the clock there was no question of Burnley fighting back and saving their impressive unbeaten run and double hopes that had been so talked of before the kick off and their awful day was made worse when Harry Wilson danced through the completely dejected Burnley full backs to score past Dawson with stagg

ering ease. The Hull fans must have been pinching themselves at what they were seeing but it should have been worse when, with just seconds remaining, Sergeaunt missed an absolute sitter that should have made it four.

No matter, the referee put Burnley out of their misery with the score at 3-0 and the roof was almost blown off Anlaby Road by the noise of the overjoyed fans. Hull were in the quarter finals of the cup for only the second time in their history while Burnley went through their next six top flight games unbeaten to clinch their first league title.

Hull were drawn at home to Preston North End in the last eight with 30,000 cramming into Anlaby Road to see if The Tigers could pull off another shock but in one of the most tedious quarter finals witnessed there was only one serious effort on goal, which the visitors squandered to set up a replay at Deepdale. That meant Hull were in the semi final draw for the first time in their history and with two other second division sides already through, their fans could really start thinking about the final. The other two second tier sides were paired together though and Hull found that they would have to see off another first division side, Tottenham if they could win at Deepdale. It wasn't to be though as Preston won by a solitary goal.

Hull survived their relegation battle comfortably but manager, David Menzies was lured to the first division in July to take charge of Bradford City and many of his players also went on to bigger and better things. Keeper Billy Mercer, who could probably have laid a claim to have been the least troubled of any of the giant killer's goalkeepers featured in the 100 greatest series, was snapped up by League Champions, Huddersfield Town in 1924, winning two league titles and a call up for England. Centre half, Mike Gilhooley became a World record transfer when Sunderland paid £5,750 for his services in March 1922, a month after he earned his first Scotland cap and a great career looked on the cards. Tragically for Gilhooley he suffered a broken leg soon afterwards and was never the same again, leaving the top flight after two years and just nine appearances. Samuel Cheetham followed his manager to Bradford but they were unable to keep The Bantams in the top flight while Jackie Crawford completed a quartet of Hull men who made the top flight when he joined Chelsea in 1923 for £3,000, helping theBlues into the top flight and a surprising England call in 1931. Both of Hull's Irishmen earned international recognition with Danny McKinney earning his first cap the week after this tie while still with the club. Harry Wilson left Alanby Road in October and was eventually called up in 1924, having returned to his native Northern Ireland. Two men did stay with Hull and both became legends as Ginger Bell recorded over 400 appearances and Tom Bleakley over 300 during long careers which ended with both playing in Hull's famous 1930 cup semi final replay against Arsenal. Curiously one of the two men who didn't go on to make a name for himself was the two goal hero, Tom Brandon, who left the club shortly afterwards and drifted into non league football.

{image right: Harry Wilson}

Anlaby Road meanwhile remained Hull's home until 1943 when the club was evicted and moved to Boothferry Park. The gound was to be torn down for expansion of the local railway but it stayed in place for over twenty years before the bulldozers finally moved in in 1965. Those not familiar with the area who are looking for the site will find a surprise when they go looking for it. The K C Stadium where Hull play today is partially on the site.


Hull City: 1:Billy Mercer, 2:Samuel Cheetham, 3:Matt 'Ginger' Bell, 4:Jack Collier, 5:Mike Gilhooley, 6:Tom Bleakley, 7:Jackie Crawford, 8:Tom Brandon, 9:Danny McKinney, 10:Harry Sergeaunt, 11:Harry Wilson {Manager: David Menzies}

Burnley: 1:Jerry Dawson, 2:Len Smelt, 3:Cliff Jones, 4:Walter Weaver, 5:Tommy Boyle, 6:Billy Watson, 7:Billy Nesbitt, 8:Bob Kelly, 9:Bert Freeman, 10:Benny Cross, 11:Eddie Mosscrop {Manager: John Haworth}

Hull City



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