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The Giant Killers

Every F A cup slaying since 1888

All time greatest F A cup giant killings

Number 34

Millwall 2-0 Manchester City

Quarter Final

Saturday March 6th 1937

The Den, New Cross, London


Scorers: Dave Mangnall {2}

Ranked at the time:8

Madeleine Carroll was a cinema hit as Mimi Carraway, a rich girl who sets out to get revenge on Dick Powell, the producer of a Broadway show lampooning her family but ends up falling for his charms in the film 'On the Avenue'. The film also featured the hit record 'This Year's Kisses' by Benny Goodman and his orchestra with vocals from Margaret McRae while the Archbishop of Canturbury announced that he would be censoring the five newsreel companies' footage of the forth coming coronation of King George VI in May.

The fans of Millwall Football Club were well acquainted with cupsets as the Lions were responsible for more major cup shocks in the history of the competition than any other club. Aston Villa had been the first to suffer at their hands in a game that many claimed gave birth to the statement 'we fear no foe, where e'er we go' but that had been nearly forty years before and a new younger generation were more familiar with the club's more recent cupset exploits of the twenties. That led to the club's first appearance in the Second Division in 1928 but by 1936 they were back in the Southern section of Division Three and trailed leaders, Luton by four points when the league programme was interrupted for the first time by the cup.

The Lions were drawn away to fellow Third Division South club, Aldershot but the game proved to be an easy mauling as the Lions destroyed their hosts 6-1, with a hat-trick from Dave Mangnall, a veteran forward from Wigan who had spent the first half of the decade in the top flight with Huddersfield and Birmingham and who was now considered to be winding down his career in the third tier. A home tie against another Third Division North side, Gateshead in round two produced an even more impressive 7-0 victory with another hat-trick hero, this time Mangnall's forward partner, Ken Burditt, another thirty something from Leicestershire.

While an aggregate of 13-1 to get to the third round was impressive, it was hardly noteworthy with the big guns of the top two divisions entering the cup and when the Lions were drawn at home to Second Division Fulham in round three it was a tie that attracted little attention outside the fact of it being a London derby. A huge crowd of 32,000 arrived at Millwall's New Cross home, known colloquially by the fans as The Den, to compliment the Lions moniker, to see a tie where the home side dominated for long periods and won 2-0 with two cleverly worked goals, finished off by their two veteran hat-trick heroes, Burditt and Mangnall. Both men had now scored in all three rounds, having each netted in the game where the other had taken the ball home. Great result but still not a major news worthy story, though there was great excitement when another London side, First Division Chelsea were drawn to visit the Den in round four.

In the days leading to the Fulham tie the Lions had taken delivery of a huge new clock, the biggest to be erected at any Football League ground, and the players were drafted away from training for some publicity shots of them helping to erect it above the stand. The iconic clock would go on to watch over a half century of Millwall's good and bad days before it finally came down along with the stadium when it closed. The newsreels had captured the clock raising but shelved the story until the visit of Chelsea a few weeks later as a much more attractive proposition for the cameras than Fulham had been; and they chose right. The Lions took the field in a red and white Arsenal styled kit and it seemed that Chelsea were mesmerised by them. Ken Burditt continued his run of a goal in every round when breaking the deadlock on the half hour and he added a second before the ex Birmingham outside left, Jack Thorogood, the only man in the team other than Mangnall with top flight experience, added the killer third goal. Mangnall himself failed to find the net for the first time in the cup run but he played his part in a commanding performance that had one Chelsea fan remarking wryly “Millwall had better play Chelsea's remaining fixtures to make sure they don't get relegated and Chelsea play Millwall's to make sure they don't go up”. He needn't have worried as mid table Chelsea were consistent enough to stay clear of the drop zone.

Now Millwall had the attention of the media and another lucrative home tie with title contenders, Derby County in the fifth round to prepare for. The Rams had a great side in the mid thirties with high hopes that either the cup, or the title, or perhaps even both could end up at the Baseball ground before the decade was out. From an early hour it was clear that The Den would not be able to cope with the sheer numbers wanting to catch the cup tie with travelling fans being warned at Waterloo station that there was a good chance the gates would be locked by the time they got there. With an hour to go to kick off Cold Blow Lane was a heaving mass of bodies trying desperately to get into the ground and eventually the gates had to be locked with over 48,000 people in a stadium that should never have been allowed to hold thirty, though such things were rarely considered in the thirties.

The huge crowd literally swayed back and forth like a wheat field in the wind until shortly before kick off when thousands of cramped fans made the decision to race across the field to the less packed main stand. That however was an area reserved for the supposed better supporters who had paid for their seats and so amazingly the police ordered the gatecrashers back across the ground into the over crowded unreserved side. Equally amazingly was the fact that a well behaved and happily alcohol fuelled crowd obeyed their instructions and returned before kick off. Meanwhile Millwall would have to face the Rams without their keeper Duncan Yuill, who was injured. Johnny Burke came in as the only change from the Chelsea line up. In the first half the keeper looked nervous, missing a cross and then, when a Keen free kick was allowed to sail over the Millwall defence, the keeper simply let the ball bounce past him into the net. The keeper had to take some blame for such a soft goal but the home side responded to going behind for the first time in their cup run brilliantly when Dave Mangnall let fly from distance to beat Scattergood. In the second half Millwall began to get the upper hand as Derby began to sink deeper in defence, yet it was the Rams who repeatedly held their heads in their hands as they crashed the Millwall crossbar three times. At the other end Dave Mangnall thought he'd won the tie but his goal celebrations were quickly cut short when he was flagged offside.

It had been a great day and cup tie but just as the huge crowd were resigning themselves to a replay at The Baseball ground that they knew Derby would be overwhelming favourites to win, they found a sensational winner of their own. Jimmy McCartney netted the goal with less than three minutes left to spark the second pitch invasion of the day. The pitch was cleared relatively quickly but not for long as the final whistle heralded a pitch invasion from three sides of the ground. One point to note was the press reaction to the Millwall crowd who heaped praise on the good natured and jovial nature of the crowd for a club whose fans, even in the thirties regularly got bad press.

With Exeter departing the competition at the fifth round stage, Millwall went into the draw for the quarter finals as the only side from Division Three in the last eight and now they had the full attention of the press who boldly acknowledged that nobody, not even the mighty Arsenal themselves would want to go to New Cross. Cup favourites, The Gunners avoided the bullet but Millwall still got a fantastic draw when paired with a Manchester City side who were unbeaten in thirteen games, were lying third in the First Division and who promptly went to Derby in the league and beat the Rams 5-0.

Duncan Yuill was still on the sidelines so Johnny Burke again deputised with Ted 'Smudger' Smith and Tommy Inns as his full backs, as they had been in every round. The half back line also remained unchanged from the Chelsea and Derby games with the club's only International, Tom 'The Professor' Brolly of Northern Ireland alongside Jimmy Wallbanks, who had only come into the side before the third round and Jimmy Forsyth. Despite their great exploits it was Millwall's forward line that was unsettled. Hewitt made a critical decision to start with Ken Burditt as centre forward with Mangnall at outside right while Barker replaced Daniels at inside right, Jimmy McCartney continued at inside left but had a new partner, Jack Thorogood being surprisingly dropped on the morning of the game in favour of the inexperienced youngster Reg Smith.

Facing Hewitt's men was a City side that had finally gelled into a seemingly unbeatable group of players. Despite seeming to have been around forever, City's ill fated keeper, Frank Swift was still a youngster who who was one of seven survivors from the cup winners of 1934, which also included England's Jackie Bray, Fred Tilson and Eric Brook and Scotland's Alec Herd. Bobby Marshall. Ernie Toseland completed the seven who were now also joined by City's record signing, Northern Ireland's Peter Doherty, carrying a whopping £10,000 burden around his neck. This was a side rivalling Arsenal for the major headlines but better organised crowd control ensured that the crowd would not surpass the Derby tie, even though it would have attracted an even bigger gate.

Once More Millwall donned the Arsenal style red and white kit that had so mesmerised Chelsea in the fourth round but this time the weight of history was against the Lions as no Third Division side had ever won a cup quarter final and no club since Southern League Swindon, a quarter of a century earlier had reached the last four from outside the top two tiers. Millwall took the field first, to a huge cheer from the 42,000 colourful fans, waving all sorts of favours, including one with a papier mache lion. City, in white shirts and black shorts followed to a quieter reception save for a reasonable contingent of fans from the north, expectantly awaiting the next step towards a possible League and cup double being achieved.

City kicked off and attempted to play with a stylish swagger of a side oozing confidence in the early stages but their back heels and fancy flicks were not coming off as their passing, far too often, found a the red shirt of a player hungry for the ball. Few real opportunities had been carved out by either side when a Burditt shot deflected off a City defender for a corner. Barker, a relatively inexperienced member of the Millwall side, playing in his first cup tie for the club, went to take it. Ken Burditt rose to meet it but came up a fraction too short. The ball continued to Dave Mangnall and Frank Swift was beaten. Sensationally Millwall were in front but had another seventy-five minutes to see out if they were to get to the semi finals.

Considering the fact that thirteen sides had faced City and none had managed to hold out against them, it seemed like a tall order but City were not playing with their usual fluency and at half time they still trailed having yet to really trouble Burke. Early in the second half Alec Herd hit the bar in the most dangerous moment of the game for the home side but Millwall were rattled only for a brief period before getting back into their stride. They were quicker to everything and, in a City side clearly not getting to grips with the game, it was their £10,000 man, Doherty who was getting the worst of it from the crowd and was having an awful game to boot.

Twelve minutes had elapsed in the second half when a lofted ball was met on the wing by McCartney. He went to go inside but then cut back, getting enough space to allow himself a cross from the byline. Once more Burditt rose for it but came up an inch short but yet again turned to see Mangnall wheeling away having met it and headed it past helpless Swift. City just hadn't been able to cope with the forward who had played the first half at center-forward and then drifted to the right wing in the second, causing real problems for the visiting defenders.

Millwall rarely looked like getting a third and clearly tired in the last twenty-five minutes when City began to properly push to try and save the tie and one fan, perched high above the stand beside the new clock, was seen trying to push the minute hand forward. His urgency was unnecessary as City did little with the huge amount of possession they enjoyed in the latter stages and those by the touchline were preparing for their full time pitch invasion long before Mr Wiltshire from Dorset blew his whistle to mark history. The Lions were sensationally in the semi-finals of the cup.

The City players took their defeat well, actually they did more than that, they used their disappointment to make sure this was their only defeat in twenty-five games as they overhauled Arsenal and Charlton to bring the league title to Maine Road for the first time. The City player's annoyance at their defeat at The Den must have been heightened when they heard that Arsenal had also exited the cup at the quarter final stage but it opened the competition right up and the pundits were not ruling out Millwall being the first side from outside the top two divisions to win the cup since Spurs nearly forty years earlier. While the media made great coverage of the first side from the Third Division to reach the cup semi-finals, the majority of Millwall's more senior support took it in their stride and shrugged their shoulders with a calm air of 'seen it all before', and so they had. Millwall had twice previously reached the semi-finals of the cup while outside the top two tiers of the English game. The then Southern League side had lost on both occasions with the older Millwall fans still remembering that their golden cup final chance had come and gone in 1900 when, as firm favourites to beat fellow non leaguers, Southampton, they failed to win a tie they dominated and then lost the replay.

This time they were being made to wait to see whether they would face the reigning League Champions, Sunderland or a very good Wolves side. These two were so evenly matched that it took three tries before the match was settled in the Champion's favour. Meanwhile Millwall's league form had been seen to be suffering during the cup run and they had taken their eye off the real prize of the Third Division North Championship, which was beyond their reach by March. The build up to this semi-final created a frenzy of public interest in Greenwich, Lewisham and the Isle of Dogs as the whole area wanted to see the Lions roar their way to Wembley but they were shocked by the F A's decision to choose Huddersfield's Leeds Road as the venue over the much more central Derby or even Sheffield. In addition the rail network made Huddersfield a much more difficult place for fans from London to get to. Millwall protested in vain but their fans were aiming to be there no matter how difficult it would be to get there.

And on match day they didn't let their club down, travelling in their thousands from the early hours to Yorkshire. One fan set off days beforehand on his bicycle, another stole a car, pleading mitigating circumstances when placed in front of the judge the following Monday. The judge must have been a Football fan because the thief got off! The majority were more conventional and used either their own cars or trains. The good news for the Lions on match day was that Duncan Yuill was back in goal, having recovered from injury, Reg Smith had been so impressive that the youngster retained his place at outside left while the unsettled outside right spot saw Thomas get his first chance in the cup run in place of Daniels and Barker. Dave Mangnall, now christened David the giant killer, was nursing a thigh strain, although Charlie Hewitt told the forward to tell no one, other than a herbalist he visited for treatment.

The Millwall players were met by a mass of locals cheering them on when they arrived at Huddersfield, helping to quell the club's fears that the venue would benefit their opponents and there were easily a good 20,000 neutrals among the huge 62,000 crowd that were there to hopefully see another major cupset. It wasn't to be but oh how close the Lions came when Dave Mangnall did what the fans had come to see and put Millwall into the lead. Sunderland's star studded side were desperate to bring the cup back to Roker Park for the first time and that desire shone through as they used their greater ability to come back and win 2-1. 20,000 Millwall fans had turned up for a reserve game at The Den just so they could hear the regular tannoy updates and the silence at the final whistle was almost as deafening as the roar that had greeted them taking the lead. There is no room for gallant losers in semi-finals and the Millwall players instantly vanished in the wake of the Sunderland players delight at being cup finalists, knowing that few of them would ever get as good a chance again.

Tom Brolly did go on to experience the joy of winning the cup, albeit back in his native Northern Ireland when guesting for Linfield in 1942. The Professor, Brolly returned to Cold Blow Lane after his service for both the Belfast blues and the army, as a fitness instructor during the war and stayed until 1950 before moving into coaching with Ipswich Town. He retired shortly after finally experiencing the joy of being part of a cup win when the Portman Road side won the cup in 1978 and passed away in 1986.

Jimmy Forsyth also moved to Ipswich after a spell as a coach at The Den, which ended in 1943. he even briefly took charge at Portman Road in a caretaker capacity in 1964. The cup run saw the emergence of a young Reg Smith, who would go on to be Millwall's last England International. Like Brolly, Smith would go on to experience the delight of being a cup winner, although he also left England to do it when in charge of Falkirk. Smith was lured back to The Den as manager but was controversially sacked after failing to guide them to Fourth Division promotion in 1961. The youngster of the team later emigrated to Cape Town where he passed away in 2004. Smith had replaced Jack Thorogood in the side, causing him to move on to Doncaster, where he ended his career.

The star of the side though was Dave 'The Giant Killer' Mangnall, whose golden cup run this was at the twilight of his career. Mangnall was briefly a star again and Derby's George Jobey went as far as to offer Millwall £5,000 to bring the veteran back to the top flight but was refused by both player and club. Had his strike partner Ken Burditt been just a few inches taller it could have been he and not Mangnall being hailed as the two goal destroyer of Manchester City but it was his place to profit from Mangnall's celebrity. While Third Division defences ganged up to stop Mangnall scoring the following year, Burditt was free to score the goals that ensured Millwall won the Third Division South. The success marked an acrimonious end to Mangnall's time at the Den as he demanded a wage rise the club refused him. The cup hero moved across London to QPR before the war ended his career. Mangnall moved into management at Loftus Road, guiding Rangers to the Third Division Championship but when relegation followed four years later he walked away from Football, taking the traditional ex players route of pub landlord before he passed away in 1962, aged just fifty-six.

Millwall: 1:Johnny Burke, 2:Ted Smith, 3:Tommy Inns, 4: Tom Brolly, 5:Jimmy Wallbanks, 6:Jimmy Forsythe, 7:Don Barker, 8:Dave Mangnall, 9:Ken Burditt, 10:Jimmy McCartney, 11:Reg Smith

Manchester City: 1;Frank Swift, 2:Billy Dale, 3:Sam Barkas, 4:Joe Rogers, 5:Jackie Bray, 6:Bobby Marshall, 7:Peter Doherty, 8:Alec Herd, 9:Fred Tilson, 10:Ernie Toseland, 11:Peter Doherty