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The Giant Killers

Every F A cup slaying since 1888


Fourth round: Saturday January 28th 1928


Scorers: {Stoke}: Bobby Archibald, Harry Davies, Charlie Wilson {2}, {Bolton}: Billy Butler, Lionel Murphy

Ranked at the time: 154

Talk of meetings between these two sides in the FA cup is naturally dominated by the fateful clash in 1946, which led to the Burnden Park disaster. And it's perhaps ironic to think that high up the topics of conversation among the fans who fatefully made their way to the ground that day were memories of this classic cup tie from eighteen years earlier at the Victoria Ground. Fans of The Potters in the 1920s were rarely starved of excitement in a topsy turvey decade, which began brightly by the club's return to the League after years of financial difficulty. By 1928 the fans had seen the club promoted to the top flight, build a huge new stand that cost the club so much money that they dropped into Division Three and then immediately start the fight back by being crowned Third Division North Champions in 1927. Stoke had easily defeated Third Division Gillingham in the third round of the cup and were on a great run of League form that had taken them to the fringes of the promotion chase when they met cup specialists, Bolton in round four. While the Trotters were rarely a force in the top flight they were considered perhaps the best cup side in the land, having won the trophy twice during the decade. Few Trotters fans who made the journey to Stoke could remember being the victim of a giant killing but it was on its way in a classic tie. Stoke were by far the better side but having seemingly won this tie once they had to go and win it all over again in a nail biting afternoon in which Charlie Wilson proved the difference. Wilson was the star of the Potter's team, having been top scorer in two League Title winning Huddersfield sides before losing his place in a strengthened side the next year. Now Wilson was on his was to becoming Stoke's record scorer for a season, a feat which stands to this day. He was chief tormentor to a Bolton side who were torn this way and that in the early stages as Archibald and Davies put the home side two up and the result looked assured when Bob Dixon saved Harry Nuttall's penalty for the visitors. Despite that setback, the visitors fought back and levelled the tie through Billy Butler and Spud Murphy but Wilson wasn't finished with the Trotters yet and this time turned from provider to scorer to net the two goals that wrapped up a superb cup tie in the underdog's favour. Stoke's reward in round five was a trip to the form team of Division Two, Manchester City where again Wilson was the hero with the only goal to secure a quarter final tie at Highbury against last years beaten cup finalists, Arsenal. By the time of that tie Stoke's form had dipped, they would eventually finish fifth, and they were outclassed by The Arsenal, losing 1-4 but hope had grown of a return to the top flight. It would be another five years before promotion was finally achieved, with four of the 1928 team still among the side, including Bob McGrory who remained at The Victoria Ground as player and manager until 1952. Harry Davies was also in the promoted side but he had enjoyed his own personal adventure between times, joining Huddersfield where he played in the 1930 'Airship' cup final before returning to the Potteries. {image above: Bob McGrory leads The Potters out for their quarter final at Highbury. Courtesy Arsenal Archive}

Stoke City: 1:Bob Dixon, 2:Bob McGrory, 3:Billy Spencer, 4:?, 5:Tom Williamson, 6:Harry Sellars, 7:Ernie Cull, 8:Walter Bussey, 9:Charlie Wilson, 10:Harry Davies, 11:Bobby Archibald

Bolton Wanderers: 1:Jimmy Gill, 2:Bob Haworth, 3:?, 4:John Cope, 5:Jack Round, 6:Harry Nuttall, 7:Billy Butler, 8:David Jack, 9:John Smith, 10:George Gibson, 11:Lionel 'Spud' Murphy

Sunderland 1-2 Manchester City

Fourth round: Saturday January 28th 1928


Scorers: {Sunderland} Dave Halliday {70}: {Manchester} Charles Broadhurst {44}, George Hicks {80}

Ranked at the time: 172

A stunned Roker Park crowd left this game wondering how on earth the second division leaders, City had left with the spoils after a brilliant display of keeping from Lewis Barber. City took the field with six of the side that had played in the cup final two years earlier, when the club had also been relegated from the top flight. That sextet included England International, Tommy Johnson, Scotland International Jimmy McMullan and former Scotland and England men, Philip McCloy and the veteran Frank Roberts and they were in excellent form with seven consecutive victories under their belt, which had taken them top of Division Two. Sunderland were in mid table in the top flight with one eye over their shoulders at the relegation spots but they completely dominated this game from start to finish and in the first half hour in particular they pummelled Lewis Barber's goal without breaking the deadlock. City rarely made it beyond the half way line with any major force but were given the chance to get some bodies forward with their first corner of the game a minute before the interval. George Hicks' floated kick was too tempting for Albert McInroy to stay on his line and as he came to meet it he was beaten by Charles Broadhurst whose header silenced the famous Roker Roar. Sunderland came out with equal force in the second half and again Barber was the hero with a string of saves while Barrass, McCloy and Ridley all earned honourable mention for several key blocks and challenges to keep the home forwards at bay. All City's efforts looked to have come to nothing when they were caught on the counter during a rare attack with twenty minutes left. Wood's defence splitting pass gave Dave Halliday a great chance, which he gave Barber no chance of stopping. City were now surely hanging on for a draw at best but as the game became stretched in the closing minutes they had opportunities to hit the home side on the counter and with ten minutes to go they did it to maximum effect. Charles Broadhurst had the chance to stun Sunderland for the second time but his shot came back off the bar before, to Broadhurst's relief, George Hicks slammed home the rebound. The next ten minutes were played out entirely in front of Lewis Barber's goal and must have felt more like an hour for the travelling City fans before time ran out and the smash and grab cupset was confirmed. Fellow giant killers, Stoke put paid to City in round five but promotion back to the big time was by then very much the priority, which was achieved as Second Division Champions. Two of City's side would go on to play in the 1933 cup final in opposition. Jimmy McMullan turned out for City while Tommy Johnson, by then a League Champion with Everton, helped to defeat his old club. Sunderland meanwhile got League revenge when the sides met as equals at Roker Park the following year, winning 2-1.

Sunderland: 1:Albert McInroy, 2:?, 3:Bob Thomson, 4:Billy Clunas, 5:George Henderson, 6:Arthur Andrews, 7:Alwyne Wilks, 8:Bobby Marshall, 9:Dave Halliday, 10:Albert Wood, 11:Len Hargreaves

Manchester City: 1:Lewis Barber, 2:Matt Barrass, 3:Philip McCloy, 4:John Ridley, 5:?, 6:Jimmy McMullan, 7:Billy Austin, 8:Frank Roberts, 9:Charles Broadhurst, 10:Tommy Johnson, 11:George Hicks

Nottingham Forest 2-0 Derby County

Fourth round replay: Wednesday February 1st 1928: After Extra Time

Attendance: 35,000

Scorers: Sid Gibson {91, 111}

Ranked at the time:114

Notingham Forest: 1:Alf Dexter, 2:Bill Thompson, 3:Percy Barratt, 4:Jackie Belton, 5:Albert Harrison, 6:Gerry Morgan, 7:Sid Gibson, 8:Cyril Stocks, 9:Noah Burton, 10:Charlie Jones, 11:Harold Wadsworth

Derby County: 1:Harry Wilkes, 2:Billy Carr, 3:Bill Robson, 4:Archie Scott, 5:Mick O'Brien, 6:Harry Storer, 7:Sammy Crooks, 8:Jack Whitehouse, 9:Harry Bedford, 10:George Stephenson, 11:George Mee

Nottingham Forest 2-1 Cardiff City

Fifth round: Saturday February 13th1928


Scorers: {Nottingham} Bill Thompson {pen}, Cyril Stocks: {Cardiff} Hughie Ferguson

Ranked at the time:97

Today: Outside the top 300

Nottingham Forest were the star giant killers of 1928 with two scalps to their name in a run to the quarter finals that brought the first excitement the City Ground had seen in over a decade. In the first of the two cupsets Forest faced local rivals, Derby County, a side with whom Forest already had a strong cup history. The two sides had met in the 1898 cup final when Forest, as underdogs, had won the cup for first time in their history. The men from the City Ground had failed to add to that solitary trophy success and a decade later Derby took sweet revenge with a cup shock 3-0 win at the City Ground. The years since had seen a reversal of fortunes for the two clubs with Forest relegated in 1925. Despite regularly fielding eight of the side that had played in the top flight, Forest weren't threatening to return to the big time at the time of their fourth round draw with Derby at The Baseball Ground. The visiting Reds gave it their all on Derby's then traditional quagmire of a pitch but couldn't find a way past Harry Wilkes and the news of a replay at The City Ground sent a buzz of excitement throughout Nottingham. This was the era before city rivalry and most football fans in Nottingham would watch Forest one week and County the next, much like many fans in Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield did at the same time so it wasn't surprising to find the tiny ground by the Trent heaving to breaking point on the day of the replay. Fans had queued from 9am for gates to open at 1pm and by kick off time the players could only watch on as mounted police cleared the pitch of spectators. The game itself was a tame affair contested by two sides more scared of defeat then ambitious to win on a pitch in perfect condition to that of Derby's. Harry Storer came closest to winning the game when he grazed the Forest bar in the first half but again it was the Reds who had the better of the play without scoring. Extra time brought an instant breakthrough for Forest from Sid Gibson and with the light fading in the second period Gibson sealed the victory with a shot that may have taken a deflection off Cyril Stocks on the way in. The draw for the fifth round handed Forest a plum draw at home to the cup holders, Cardiff and again The City Ground was packed to capacity. Stocks again found the net, though this time it wasn't a fortuitous effort as he added to Bill Thompson's penalty to secure another sensational victory. The quarter finals took Forest to Sheffield United and there was genuine hope of another upset against a side who had failed to win in four league outings but the dream was crushed by a clinical Blades side. Forest had the Welsh International Charlie Jones in their side but the ex Oldham winger eventually had to leave as the prospects of top flight football at the City Ground grew ever remote. Jones joined a growing football revolution at Arsenal where he went on to win three titles and play in the 1932 cup final

Nottingham Forest: 1:Alf Dexter, 2:Bill Thompson, 3:Percy Barratt, 4:Jackie Belton, 5:?, 6:?, 7:Sid Gibson, 8:Cyril Stocks, 9:Noah Burton, 10:?, 11:Harold Wadsworth

Cardiff City: 1:Tom Farquharson, 2:Jimmy Nelson, 3:?, 4:Harry Wake, 5:Fred Keenor, 6:Billy Hardy, 7:Billy Thirlaway, 8:Len Davies, 9:Hughie Ferguson, 10:?, 11:George McLachlan