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The Giant Killers

Every F A cup slaying since 1888

All time greatest F A cup giant killings

Number 69

Chesterfield 4-2 Sheffield Wednesday

Third round replay {last 64}: Wednesday January 18th 1933

Saltergate, Chesterfield

Attendance: 19,652

Scorers: {Chesterfield}: Colin Cook {3}, Samuel Abel {8}, Jack Lee {18}, Arthur Bacon {25}, {Sheffield}:Walter Millership {46}, George Stephenson {59}

Construction began on San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes starred as World War One lovers in the Academy award winning 'A Farewell to Arms' and Fred Astaire and Leo Reisman had a hit with 'Night and Day'.

The Derbyshire town of Chesterfield lies just twelve miles from Sheffield so a third round trip to Sheffield Wednesday was a dream draw for the fans of a side struggling at the wrong end of Division Two when the two were paired in round three in 1933. The men from Hillsborough had won back to back titles in 1929 & 30 and had finished third in each of the two seasons since. This year they were lying second in the top flight, having lost just once in sixteen league games since September.

Chesterfield by contrast had never played among the elite, despite being one of the oldest clubs in the land, predating the cup itself by four years. Their existence had been spent largely hopping between the lowest tier of the Football League and the Midland League until winning the Third Division North title in 1931.

Life in the Second Division had been difficult for the Spireites, so called because of the famous crooked church spire that stands over the town. They had avoided dropping back into the third tier by just two points before bringing Bill Harvey in as manager for the 1932/33 season. Fortunes didn't improve though and the first twenty games of the season yielded just three victories before an upturn in fortunes in December saw three straight victories before a 2-4 defeat at Bradford City the week before the cup tie. For Harvey in particular, the trip to Hillsborough was a special day as he himself was a former Wednesday player.

Ten thousand Chesterfield fans boarded the trains, buses and cars to Sheffield on third round day but if Wednesday's excellent form and Chesterfield's poor status weren't omen enough then the fact that the Spireites had yet to defeat top flight opponents in six previous attempts should have convinced most fans that an honourable defeat was the best hope of the day.

Because both sides normally sported blue and white stripes they both opted for change colours for the tie. Wednesday were to wear red and Owls manager, Robert Brown named a side containing three players who remained from their 1929 and '30 title winning sides, English International, Ellis Rimmer, former English International goalkeeper, Jack Brown and half back, Alf Strange.

Chesterfield sported white shirts and could also call on a former English International between their posts with former West Bromwich Albion keeper, George Ashmore being a familiar face to the home Wednesday fans as he came onto the field, as was the former Derby half back, Johnny McIntyre

Wednesday took little time getting into their stride and were two goals up in fifteen minutes through Jack Ball. The Owls should have gone on and notched up a convincing victory but they took their foot off the gas and Chesterfield seized their chance to get back into the game. Colin Cook got a goal back before the interval before Jack Lee scored the goal of the game in the second half. Lee made a lung bursting run through the Wednesday defence before seeing his shot pushed high into the air by Jack Brown. Lee flung himself bravely at the ball as it dropped to head home the equaliser. The remainder of the game was a great contest for the fans as both sides battled to try and finish the tie off, though the game looked settled seven minutes from time when Billy Kidd was harshly adjudged to have barged Jack Bell off the ball in the penalty area. The old rule of never letting the fouled player take the penalty was ignored as Bell elected to take the kick, the prospect of a hat-trick being his reward if he netted. Bell turned from hero to villain with his team mates hurling daggers at him, though it wasn't for his spot kick, which, though well placed, crashed back off the post with Ashmore beaten but the Wednesday players were quickest to react and were racing in to lash the rebound past the stranded Chesterfield keeper when Bell, without thinking, collected the rebound first and tapped it into the net. Nobody else had touched the ball and Bell was instantly flagged offside, turning the cheers of the home fans to groans and a realisation that, just perhaps, the Gods today were shining on Chesterfield, who deserved their day back at Saltergate.

With virtually the last kick of the game it almost got even better for The Spireites when Colin Cook had the goal at his mercy but miscued his shot and gifted Brown an easy save when he must surely have felt he was beaten.

The Chesterfield fans left for the short journey home in jubilant mood before descending on the town pubs to celebrate a fantastic result and the prospect of a replay on Wednesday.

By Monday afternoon every seat in Saltergate had been sold but with forty-eight hours to kick off, the game was in serious doubt as constant snowfall had turned the pitch into a bog. The groundsmen kept at their work through Tuesday to leave the field on Wednesday morning in surprisingly better condition than many had expected, albeit there being more sand on the pitch than grass and a line of snow running down the centre of the field from goal mouth to goal mouth.

Thankfully the skies were clear on match day and with half day closing providing a rare chance for the shop keepers to attend a game, the queues were round the stadium long before kick off, though there was no queuing for the many dignitaries in attendance, with the Mayor of Chesterfield, Mr Arthur Swale confidently predicting that Chesterfield would win 4-2.

No doubt the many thousands of Wednesday fans travelling to Chesterfield would have had a good laugh at the suggestion of their side being so clearly beaten and such was their eagerness to see the replay that many Wednesdayites who lived south of the city set off for Chesterfield on foot, their number growing as they went. Outward bravado may well have been tempered by remembrance of their humiliation at Reading just four years earlier while older fans may have discussed their disastrous trip to Norwich in 1909.

A much bigger concern on arrival at Saltergate was whether or not they would get in at all as every corner of the ground was packed half an hour before kick off but the police were perfect marshals and ensured that everyone got in for the kick off.

Chesterfield emerged from beneath the main stand, again sporting the white shirts worn the previous Saturday and were unchanged from the side that overcame that terrible start at Hillsborough. Wednesday though had made changes with full back George Beeson having to step down with flu, his place taken by Tommy Walker while Jack Ball was also declared unfit for duty, replaced by Walter Millership. George Stephenson also came in at inside left, Harry Burgess losing his place. The kit however remained unchanged, the Owls yet again taking the field in red.

There was surprisingly a change of referee for the replay, the practice then, as it still is in the 21st Century, is that a referee is assigned to a tie and sees it through to a finish. No reason was stated for the change of official but it was unlikely that the actual standard of refereeing had any bearing on the choice of Mr Jennings of York taking charge at Saltergate. The new referee's coin fell in favour of Johnny McIntyre who asked Wednesday to kick off with the sun in their eyes and the First division side certainly looked like a team blinded by the light as they were caught totally flat footed in the opening half.

Barely three minutes were on the clock when a poor clearance from Brown was lashed back into his net with some venom by Colin Cook, making instant amends for his last gasp miss at Hillsborough in the first match. Chesterfield were brimming with confidence and made full use of their great start when Sidney Austin's eighth minute cross was lashed, first time past a helpless Brown by Samuel Able into the Wednesday net.

The Spireites were unrecognisable from the team that had found life in Division Two so difficult week in and week out before Christmas and totally dominated their opponents in the first ten minutes but the second goal acted as a wake up call for Wednesday and from the first corner of the game, Alf Strange should have scored when presented with a free header, which he put over Ashmore's crossbar.

Wednesday were rocked even further on eighteen minutes when Chesterfield forced their first corner of the game. Austin swung the ball right under Brown's crossbar, giving Jack Lee the chance to fling himself at the ball as he had done in Sheffield. The result was the same too as Lee's header nestled in the back of Brown's net to incredibly put Chesterfield three goals up.

The best was yet to come for the home fans when, midway through the first half, Arthur Bacon, with all the confidence of a seasoned International, dribbled from the half way line towards the Wednesday goal, slaloming through the flailing Wednesday tackles as he went. Four of the First Division's finest were left on their backside in the sand and could only watch on in horror as Bacon rounded off his fine move with a low drilled shot that bounced just beyond the reach of Brown and into the Owl's net.

It was perhaps a little unfortunate for the home side that the BBC had not yet decided to cover midweek games live on the radio, indeed this was still an era when they rarely ventured any further than Stamford Bridge and Highbury for their Saturday commentaries as the score of 4-0 with only a quarter of the game gone would easily have rivalled the sensation of Walsall's victory over Arsenal just four days earlier.

With so much of the game still to play, nobody doubted Wednesday's ability to turn the game around and the most optimistic Owls fans were still hoping that if they could just get one goal back before the break it would turn the momentum of the game. The problem was that there was very little sign of any Wednesday recovery as the First Division side looked laboured in their efforts and when the half time whistle blew they had only a low drive from Ronnie Starling, which Ashmore covered well, to show for the last twenty minutes of the half.

The half time score was broadcast to the nation on the BBC and quite what those back in the factories of Sheffield made of it can only be imagined. Back at Saltergate, half time gave everyone a chance to catch their breath and take in the fact that the Second Division side were surely through to face a trip to Darlington of Division Three North in round four, no matter what Wednesday threw at them in the second half.

A backlash of some sort had to be expected and the break took the momentum out of Chesterfield's game and allowed Wednesday the chance to regroup. A quick response was needed from the First Division side and that's exactly what they got when Walter Millership stabbed home Ellis Rimmer's cross within three minutes of the restart.

Suddenly the confidence that oozed from the fans at half time evaporated into nerves. Wednesday now had just over forty minutes to find three goals and their task didn't seem so much of a tall order after all.

With nothing left to lose, Wednesday went on all out attack and Ashmore's goal was under constant pressure. A second goal seemed certain and it duly came just before the hour mark when Wass nervously sliced a clearance, which Rimmer headed goalwards, Kidd saved the danger but could only prod the ball gently towards Stephenson who drilled the it into the Chesterfield net. It had taken Wednesday fifteen minutes to halve the deficit and they still had half an hour to finish the job. A half time sure thing now looked anything but.

Nerves were being stretched on the field too but this was to be George Ashmore's time of the game. The experienced keeper made several saves to keep Wednesday out but the crowd rose to two in particular from Millership and Strange that should have levelled the tie. The growing nervousness of Chesterfield and growing frustration of Wednesday saw the last twenty minutes of the game start to become fractious with the referee having to step in and speak to the players on more than one occasion while one melee ended with Alf Strange holding Sidney Austin by the scruff of his shirt and threatening to throw the first punch. A calming word from the official was followed by a caution for the Wednesday man to remain on best behaviour or face reducing his team to ten men.

Chesterfield themselves were already virtually down to ten men as Billy Kidd had taken an almighty whack on the thigh and was clearly playing on in great pain. Even this advantage couldn't conjure a third goal for Wednesday and when the referee started checking his watch the fans at last drew breath and began to believe again that four goals had been too big an ask for the visitors.

The final whistle brought the customary pitch invasion as the humbled Wednesday men made their exit to let Chesterfield savour their moment. Finally, at the seventh attempt, the Spireites had claimed a top flight scalp in the cup and could also proudly say it wasn't a cheap one, being a side who left the field to concentrate on trying to win the League title. Wednesday's title bid remained on course until a terrible run of seven games without a win in April saw them slip to finish third.

Chesterfield's League form took a real boost from the defeat of Wednesday as they went unbeaten in their next five games to climb out of the relegation zone. That run also included a bloodless 2-0 victory at Darlington in the fourth round of the cup, Sidney Austin and Jack Lee scoring the goals that took Chesterfield to their first ever tie in the last sixteen of the competition and a real chance of going further when they were paired with fellow Division Two strugglers, Burnley.

The two sides had last met on New Years Eve when Chesterfield had hammered their opponents 6-0 so it wasn't surprising that the fans had one eye on potential quarter final opponents as they boarded the trains for Turf Moor, where the two sides had drawn 1-1 on the opening day of the season. It wasn't to be though as Burnley ground out a tight 1-0 victory to end the Spireites cup dream for another year, it would be another sixty-four years before they appeared in the quarter finals.

Chesterfield's battles with Burnley weren't set to end with the cup defeat either. A run of five games without a win after their cup exit saw the Spireites drop back into the relegation zone with just six games to play but by the last day of the season they had done enough to keep their survival hopes alive when they took the field against bottom club, and already relegated Charlton. Chesterfield needed to win well and hope Burnley lost at home to Bury and the players did their bit, crushing sorry Charlton 5-2 but all eyes in Saltergate were on the a-z scoreboard which indicated Burnley were drawing 0-0 with Bury at half time. The final whistle brought a cheer as they waited for the numbers boy to change the half time scores to full time. A groan went around the ground as the 0 signifying Burnley was replaced with a 1 while Bury's 0 remained untouched. Chesterfield were back in the Third Division North.

Relegation to the third tier was a good cue for the thirty-five year old George Ashmore to call time on his career and he retired, returning to Birmingham to take a job with the Midlands Electricity Board. He retired in 1958 and passed away in 1973.

Full backs, Horace Wass and Billy Kidd both stayed at Saltergate after their relegation, both helping the club back into Division Two in 1936. Wass was also a useful cricketer who played a handful of County Championship games in the thirties but it was for Scotland that he was best known as a Cricketer, despite being an Englishman. Wass played for the Scots against both South Africa and Australia and later emigrated to the latter nation where he passed away in 1969. Kidd remains one of Chesterfield's most loyal servants, giving the club service as a player right up until after the war, finally hanging up his boots at the age of forty in 1947 with over three hundred club appearances under his belt. He passed away in 1979.

Like Ashmore, club captain, Johnny McIntyre also decided to retire after the club's relegation at the end of the season. The Scotsman passed away in 1974. His half back partner, Alan Sliman was, at the time Chesterfield's record signing when bought from Bristol City for £1,738 in 1928. Unsurprisingly Sliman was the only player at the club earning the maximum wage, as imposed by the League and as such was considered the star of the team, despite not being in a glamorous forward position. Sliman lost his life while in the RAF just weeks before the end of the Second World War.

Samuel Able was the only member of the side to eventually get all the way to Wembley but not perhaps in the manner he had hoped. Able became a groundsman at the stadium after the war and helped prepare the lush turf for several cup finals.

Arthur Bacon also left Saltergate at the end of the season to join Coventry. The journeyman forward had played just thirty times for the club but left the fans with the memory of that sensational fourth goal against Wednesday. despite failing to properly establish himself at any of the clubs he played for, Bacon had a habit of making his mark in a brief time. before joining Chesterfield he had scored a record six goals in one game for Reading in 1931. Bacon was popular at Coventry but yet again didn't stick around for long and left with the unusual record of having scored more goals than he had actually made appearances. Bacon drifted into non league football in 1935 and when war broke out he became a special constable in Derby, losing his life during an air raid in 1942.

Bill Harvey did not pay for relegation with his job and was given time to rebuild his side to try and get back into the Second Division, a feat he achieved at the third attempt in 1936.

Fourteen years and a war had passed before Spireites fans saw them vanquish top flight opponents in the cup again. It's not known whether Mayor Swale made any predictions on that occasion though!

Chesterfield: 1:George Ashmore, 2:Horace Wass, 3:Billy Kidd, 4:Johnny McIntyre, 5:Allan Sliman, 6:William Poynton, 7:Sidney Austin, 8:Samuel Abel, 9:Colin Cook, 10:Arthur Bacon 11:Jack Lee {Manager-Bill Harvey}

Sheffield Wednesday: 1:Jack Brown, 2:Tommy Walker, 3:Ted Catlin, 4:Alf Strange, 5;Tony Leach, 6:Gavin Malloch 7:Mark Hooper, 8:Ronnie Starling, 9:Walter Millership 10:George Stephenson, 11:Ellis Rimmer {Manager: Robert Brown}

The following sources have been used to create this article: Daily Mirror, Daily Express, Manchester Guardian, Derbyshire Times, Chesterfield Football club

If reproducing the article please credit both the site and the author

Article by Steve Porter: November 2010