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The Giant Killers

Every F A cup slaying since 1888

Giant Killers


1951 - 1953

Fulham 0-1 Birmingham City

Third Round: Saturday January 12th 1952

Attendance: 25,806

Scorer: Tommy Briggs

Ranked at the time: 330

One for the ‘not much of a shock after all’ category as in form, promotion chasing Birmingham travelled to London to face a Fulham side that enjoyed victory just four times in twenty-seven League outings so far this term. The taste of relegation had never been far from Craven Cottage since promotion two years earlier but a home cup tie against lower division opponents could be a great opportunity to deliver a much needed morale boosting victory. Unfortunately for Fulham, Birmingham had rarely tasted defeat this term and were trying to improve on a season that delivered the double heart break of losing a cup semi-final and missing out on promotion narrowly. Worse for Fulham was that one of Birmingham’s rare defeats had come the previous weekend in front of their own fans. It’s doubtful whether live Rugby League and Amateur cup Football on television had any effect on the travelling crowd but those who did make the journey, left happy to see Tommy Briggs’ tenth goal of the season pile on the misery for the Londoners. Any hopes of repeating last season’s cup heroics were quickly dashed for City fans when they suffered a shock defeat to Third Division Leyton Orient in round four, while promotion agony was felt yet again when Cardiff denied them promotion with virtually the last kick of the season. Fulham’s relegation to Division Two had long since already been confirmed.

Fulham: 1:Ian Black, 2:Bill Dodgin, 3:Reg Lowe, 4:Archie MacAulay, 5:Jim Taylor, 6:Eddie Lowe, 7:Arthur Stevens, 8:Jimmy Bowie, 9:Bedford Jezzard, 10:Bobby Brennan, 11:Johnny Campbell

City: 1:Gil Merrick, 2:Ken Green, 3:Roy Martin, 4:Jack Badham, 5:Arthur Atkins, 6:Roy Warhurst, 7:Jackie Stewart, 8:Tommy Briggs, 9:Cyril Troy, 10:Bill Smith, 11:Billy Wardle

Huddersfield Town 1-2 Tranmere Rovers

Third Round: Saturday January 12th 1952

Attendance: 30,314

Scorers: {Town} Vic Metcalfe {pen-42}: {Rovers} Tommy Tilston 53, Abe Rosenthal 57

Ranked at the time: 108

At the start of the 1950s there was a buzz about Prenton Park that something big might be happening with Tranmere Rovers. Since joining the League almost thirty years earlier, the club had rarely threatened the headline writers, save for being the club providing future star players in transfers to the First Division. The 1950/51 season saw their best bid for promotion out of the Third Division North falter late on and the same disappointment was felt again when an even stronger bid to earn a first ever promotion to the Second Division fell short. By Christmas 1951 however that optimism had faltered back into one of the club’s more common stuttering seasons. Promotion hopes had long since faded and the club were doing enough to ensure that it would be unlikely that they would have to go cap in hand to the Football League to beg for their place to be retained. Irregular visits to the third round of the cup were usually the top prize Rovers fans craved going into Christmas and this year their cup ambitions rested on the knife edge of a grand day out at First Division Huddersfield or an ignominious exit at the hands of minnows, Blyth Spartans. Two attempts had failed to see the underdogs off while a third had to be abandoned due to fading light in extra time before finally Rovers saw off their challengers in emphatic fashion, 5-1 at the fourth attempt. This came on the Monday before the victors were due to travel to Huddersfield for Third Round day and led to a rush in Birkenhead for tickets and places on the charabancs and trains. By Friday it was believed that between 3 and 5,000 blues, as Tranmere were back then, would make the journey across the Pennines.

Their opponents, Huddersfield were in a sorry state of affairs after having suggested that they could be in for a great season. The Leeds Road faithful rejoiced when their opening day draw at Arsenal was followed with a taking apart of Manchester City. It all began to go wrong from there and just three victories had been secured in the next twenty-five league games. Huddersfield were bottom of the division and their thirty-two year stay among the elite was under severe threat.

The Tranmere fans were upbeat upon their arrival in Yorkshire and for the first few minutes of the tie their heroes, looking more like Liverpool in the red and white than their usual Evertonesque blue but Huddersfield soon took charge and began an afternoon where at times it felt like the whole of Yorkshire versus Rover’s keeper, Harold Lloyd. Any jokes from Huddersfield fans at the suggestion that Rovers might field the 1920s silent era comedian in their goal gradually seemed less funny as Lloyd began repelling wave after wave of Huddersfield attacks. Vic Metcalfe and Jimmy Glazzard both called Lloyd into action, the latter a stretching low save. Ron Simpson saw the sting taken out of his shot by some desperate Tranmere defending while Lloyd seemed to grow in front of the crowd to reach high and pull Metcalfe’s looping cross shot out of the air with one hand. When Lloyd was beaten he could call on Bill Gibson to get back and clear Metcalfe’s shot off the line. Just when Tranmere thought they might have weathered the storm they were undone when Ralph Millington’s mistimed challenge upended Willie Davey and left Mr Overton, the Irish FA referee from Londonderry, no option but to point to the penalty spot. Vic Metcalfe, Town’s most dangerous player in the first half, finally got the goal he probably deserved with two minutes remaining of the first half.

Huddersfield’s first half dominance had been such that there seemed little possibility of a Rovers revival but eight minutes into the second half, in the first meaningful forward move since the opening moments of the game, they silenced the home fans and gave their travelling support a first chance to cheer. Lloyd Iceton got the better of Charlie Gallogly for the first time in the game and managed to deliver an inviting cross for Tommy Tilston to steer past the previously redundant Harry Mills. For a side of Huddersfield’s frailties it was a huge blow as they slipped back into the shape of a team desperately low on confidence suddenly looking vulnerable to the counter attack. That nervousness was exposed four minutes later when Abe Rosenthal went on a mazy run, seeing off two Huddersfield challenges before lashing a shot past Mills to turn the game on its head. Huddersfield continued to pile forward in front of a crowd, shaking their heads in disbelief at what they were seeing. Many decided the writing must be on the wall when Jimmy Glazzard’s rasping drive seemed destined for the top corner of the net before the best save of the afternoon from Lloyd. Glazzard could only stand, hands on head before stopping to applaud man of the match, Lloyd. Rovers continued to hang on in a desperate rear-guard in which they threw everything into keeping Huddersfield out. There was less than a minute let on the clock when Ray Williams threw everything into the cause and ended up having to be stretchered off for a three day stay in hospital with a serious kidney injury. The long delay in treating Williams did little to help the Huddersfield cause and only delayed the jubilant celebrations at the final whistle. The thousands of travelling Rovers fans had never enjoyed such an experience while Harold Lloyd was mobbed as the hero of the hour after his masterful display in goal.

Huddersfield trudged off the field to their inevitable relegation while Tranmere returned to a great reception on Merseyside. In round four they travelled to London to face another First Division struggler, Chelsea but this time normal service was resumed and Lloyd was powerless to prevent a crushing 0-4 defeat.

Abe Rosenthal had few better days on a Football field than his goal scoring performance at Leeds Road. The podgy forward, who moved back and forward from Bradford to Tranmere three times, retired to Merseyside where, sadly, in 1986 he collapsed and died when chasing off intruders at his home.

Town:1:Harry Mills, 2:Charlie Gallogly, 3:Laurie Kelly, 4:Bill McGarry, 5:Don McEvoy, 6:Len Quested, 7:Alastair Gunn, 8:Vic Metcalfe, 9:Jimmy Glazzard, 10:Willie Davie, 11:Ron Simpson

Rovers: 1:Harold Lloyd, 2:Bill Gibson, 3:Percy Steele, 4:Ralph Millington, 5:Harold Bell, 6:Ray Williams, 7:Ray Davies, 8:Bill Bainbridge, 9:Tommy Tilston, 10:Abe Rosenthal, 11:Lloyd Iceton

Manchester United 0-2 Hull City

Third Round: Saturday January 12th 1952

Attendance: 43,517

Scorers: Syd Gerrie {15}, Ken Harrison {42}

Ranked at the time: 11

United: 1:Reg Allen, 2:Tommy McNulty, 3:Roger Byrne, 4:Johnny Carey, 5:Allenby Chilton, 6:Henry Cockburn, 7:Johhny Berry, 8:Stan Pearson, 9:Jack Rowley, 10:Johnny Downie, 11:Ernie Bond

City: 1:Joe Robinson, 2:Wilf Hassall, 3:Viggo Jensen, 4:Bill Harris, 5:Tom Berry, 6:Denis Durham, 7:Ken Harrison, 8:Riach Carter, 9:Syd Gerrie, 10:Paul Todd, 11:Eddie Burbanks

Bristol Rovers 2-0 Preston North End

Third Round: Saturday January 12th 1952

Attendance: 30,681

Scorers: Geoff Bradford {43}, Vic Lambden {75}

Ranked at the time: 33

Rovers: 1:Bert Hoyle, 2:Harry Bamford, 3:Geoff Fox, 4:Jackie Pitt, 5:Ray Warren, 6:Peter Sampson, 7:George Petherbridge, 8:Bill Roost, 9:Vic Lambden, 10:Geoff Bradford, 11:Bryan Bush

North End: 1:Jimmy Gooch, 2:Willie Cunningham, 3:Bill Scott, 4:Tommy Docherty, 5:Joe Marston, 6:Willie Forbes, 7:Gordon Kaile, 8:Ken Horton, 9:Charlie Wayman, 10:Bobbie Beattie, 11:Angus Morrison

Luton Town 1-0 Charlton Athletic

Third Round: Saturday January 12th 1952

Attendance: 25,554

Scorer: Gordon Turner

Ranked at the time: 258

Dally Duncan’s greatest day as a player came during his Derby County days when he helped his side defeat Charlton to win the cup in 1946 so being drawn to play them in the cup, as manager of Second Division Luton must have brought sentimental enjoyment.

Duncan’s Luton side were involved in a wide open promotion battle that placed them just four points off the top two and yet left them down in ninth place. Hatters fans were looking up the table and hoping that the experience of former England International keeper, Bernard Streten and the guile of veteran duel Irish International Bud Ahern, an Irish cup winner with Belfast Celtic in 1947, could see them promoted.

First Division Charlton travelled to Kenilworth Road knowing that the cup was their only target as their mid table position left them with little to play for in the League. They brought with them three of the team that won the cup six years earlier, including their popular keeper, Sam Bartram and cup final scorer, Chris Duffy.

Luton had a goal machine in Gordon Turner and it took him just eight minutes to get on the mark here, cutting through the Charlton defence brilliantly before leaving Bartram helpless.

Charlton remained rather pedestrian for most of the remainder of the game and only mounted a late rally at a time in the game when Luton really should already have settled matters. The Hatters very nearly paid a heavy price when Cullen looked certain to force a replay with virtually the last kick of the game, only for Streten to pull off a wonder save that booked Luton’s passage to round four.

Luton went through a marathon battle with Second Division rivals, Brentford that needed extra time in the second replay to be settled in the Hatter’s favour. Third Division Swindon were waiting for the winners in round five and Luton made their superior class tell in a 3-1 victory that really brought cup fever to the town as they were given a home tie with double chasing Arsenal. That tie was a five goal thriller that Luton finished on the wrong end of. It was the start of a golden era for the Hatters though as Streten, Ahern, Turner, Syd Owen and Bob Morton all stayed with the club to help them win promotion to the top flight for the first time in their history in 1955 and before the decade was out, Morton and Owen walked out at Wembley as the Hatters reached the cup final.

Town: 1:Bernard Streten, 2:Shay Dunne, 3:Tom 'Bud' Ahern, 4:Bob Morton, 5:Syd Owen, 6:Charlie Watkins, 7:Roy Davies, 8:Gordon Turner, 9:George Stobbart, 10:Jack Taylor, 11:Bert Mitchell

Athletic: 1:Sam Bartram, 2:Jock Campbell, 3:Frank Lock, 4:Benny Fenton, 5:Derek Ufton, 6:Cyril Hammond, 7:Gordon Hurst, 8:Riley Cullum, 9:Charlie Vaughan, 10:Billy Kiernan, 11:Chris Duffy

West Ham United 2-1 Blackpool

Third Round: Saturday January 12th 1952

Attendance: 38,600

Scorers: {United} Jimmy Andrews, Frank O'Farrell: {Blackpool} Harry Johnston {Half Time 1-0}

Ranked at the time: 201

Two sides with little to play for in their respective leagues found themselves paired in a cup tie where the biggest disappointment was the absence from the visitors of the great Stanley Matthews. The Wizard of dribble was ruled out through injury as the press began to speculate if this would be his last chance to land that elusive cup winners medal, which he had yet again missed out on at Wembley in the previous season's final. The Tangerines came to London, safely embedded in mid table. West Ham fans had been given little to cheer about in the last twenty years since their relegation from the top flight. Their only giant killing acts in that period came in their first season back in the Second Division when they marched to the semi finals and almost got relegated to Division Three in the process. Aside from missing out on promotion back to the big time by the narrowest of margins in 1935, their time in Division Two had proved rather mundane with the prospect of leaving that level, in either direction, rarely looking likely. This season was proving little different as a lowly fifteenth spot was due almost entirely to their dreadful away form. At the Boleyn Ground however they rarely let their fans down, despite a shock mauling by Second tier leaders, Sheffield Wednesday at Christmas. Green Street was buzzing as the biggest crowd of the season poured out of the nearby houses and Tube Station on an unseasonally mild January Saturday and were delighted to see the Hammers draw first blood when Jimmy Andrews fired into an empty net with the Blackpool defence howling for the goal to be disallowed as they felt keeper, Farm had been impeded. Frank O'Farrell's drive in the second half left Farm flat footed and left the Seasiders with little time to try and save their cup ambitions. Harry Johnston led by a captain's example to head home late on and force an exciting and nervy finish but the Hammers held on and Blackpool's season was effectively over. In Round Four the Hammers were paired with divisional rivals Sheffield United and promptly hammered them 5-1 in a League clash in London the following week, taking revenge for the reverse scoreline earlier in the season in Sheffield. The Sheffield men learned their lessons from that mauling and returned two weeks later in the cup to force a goalless draw. West Ham's poor form on their travels did not bode well and they went down in an entertaining replay 2-4.

United: 1:Ernie Gregory, 2:George Wright, 3:Harry Kinsell, 4:Derek Parker, 5:Malcolm Allison, 6:Frank O'Farrell, 7:Terry Woodgate, 8:Gerry Gazzard, 9:Bert Hawkins, 10:Jimmy Andrews, 11:Ken Tucker

Blackpool:1:George Farm, 2:Eddie Shimwell, 3:Tommy Garrett, 4:Harry Johnston, 5:Cyril Robinson 6:Eric Hayward, 7:Stanley Matthews, 8:Ernie Taylor, 9:Stan Mortensen, 10:Allan Brown, 11:Bill Perry

Middlesbrough 1-4 Doncaster Rovers

Fourth Round: Wednesday February 6th 1952

Attendance: 41,560

Scorers: {Middlesbrough} Harry Bell {90}: {Rovers} Kit Lawlor {2}, Bert Tindall, Ray Harrison

Ranked at the time: 158

Considering this tie fell foul of the weather on the appointed date and was rescheduled for a cold dull midweek afternoon, a 41,000 crowd at Ayresome Park emphasised that the cup was the jewell in the crown of a golden era of Football. Doncaster had emerged as a yo-yo club in the post war years as a side too good for third tier Football but not good enough to maintain themselves in the long term in the Second Division. Since their latest promotion in 1950 the responsibility for trying to keep them there fell to the mercurial Ulsterman, Peter Doherty, who even occasionally included himself in the line up. Doherty's Rovers were struggling just above the relegation zone after a run with just one league win in their last twelve outings and now stretched to five straight defeats. Only their Third Round victory over Non-League Buxton brought any joy in that dull period. Facing Doherty was another pre war playing legend, David Jack, now at the helm of a Middlesborugh side whose twenty year duration as a top flight side was in jeopardy. Jack would become as much of a legend in the North East as he was at Arsenal if he could deliver Boro's first ever major trophy. By the time Harry Bell struck for the home side, the tie was over and many who had got a half day from work or just bunked off, had already made for the exits after a devastating display by the visitors had seen them build a crushing 4-0 lead. The result helped bring the curtain down on David Jack's career in English Football. The man who made Wembley a second home in the cup finals of the '20s before being instrumental in Arsenal's glory in the 30s, stepped down as Boro manager in April and was never again involved at an English club. Doherty's Doncaster went to Portsmouth in round five but this time found themselves on the wrong side of a mauling in a tie that was over long before Dave Miller flattened a Pompey opponent and was duly sent off.

Middlesbrough: 1:Rolando Ugolini, 2:Ray Barnard, 3:Bobby Corbett, 4:Harry Bell, 5:Eddie Russell, 6:Frank Mulholland, 7:Lindy Delapenha, 8:Wilf Mannion, 9:Johnny Spuhler, 10:Alex McCrae, 11:Ronnie Dicks

Rovers:1:Ken Hardwick, 2:Herbert Rouse, 3:Len Graham, 4:Walter Jones, 5:Bill Paterson, 6:Dave Miller, 7:Alf Calverley, 8:Kit Lawlor, 9:Ray Harrison, 10:Jimmy Doherty, 11:Bert Tindall

Blackburn Rovers 1-0 West Bromwich Albion

Fifth Round: Saturday February 23rd 1952

Attendance: 51,177

Scorer: Bill Eckersley {pen-87}

Ranked at the time: 297

Rovers:1:Reg Elvy, 2:Ron Stuart, 3:Bill Eckersley, 4:Jackie Campbell, 5:Willie Kelly, 6:Ronnie Clayton, 7:Jackie Wharton, 8:Eddie Crossan, 9:Eddie Quigley, 10:Albert Nightingale, 11:Alec Glover

Albion: 1:Norman Heath, 2:Stan Rickaby, 3:Len Millard, 4:Joe Kennedy, 5:Les Horne, 6:Reg Ryan, 7:Frank Griffin, 8:Jimmy Dudley, 9:Johnny Nicholls, 10:Andy McCall, 11:George Lee 

Blackburn Rovers 3-1 Burnley

Quarter Final: Saturday March 8th 1952

Attendance: 52,920

Scorers: {Rovers} Albert Nightingale {44} Bill Holmes {?}, Glover {?]: {Burnley} Jack Chew {?} {Half Time 1-1}

Ranked at the time: 184

{Image: Glover, right, leaps to celebrate after scoring Rover's clinching third goal}       

When Blackburn suffered relegation to the Second Division in 1948, the blow was felt so terribly that a Bamber Bridge Greengrocer filled a coffin full of vegetables and buried it in the cellar of a local public house. It was a hardly surprising reaction for the fans of a team who, along with Aston Villa, had been the last of the Football League's original twelve to lose their elite status back in the 30s and who must surely have expected another long stay in the top flight when promoted back just before the war. So when Jackie Bestall's team were getting routinely beaten in the opening months of the 1951/52 season, the idea of what seemed certain relegation to the Third Division was incomprehensible.

The turning point came in November when Rovers embarked on an excellent run of fourteen victories from eighteen games in all competitions with just one defeat. It not only took them safe from any danger of relegation to a comfortable mid-table position but also navigated them past Second Division rivals, Nottingham Forest and Hull and into the Fifth Round of the cup to take on West Brom. The Baggies had done enough in an erratic season to ensure that a poor run of just one win in six games was enough to give them breathing space from the relegation struggle. The sides fought out a grueling struggle that offered few moments that fans would keep as memories until Rovers won a rather soft penalty late in the game. Bill Eckersley took the responsibility of firing Blackburn into the quarter finals from the resultant spot kick.

There was only one team that the Rovers fans wanted in the quarter final draw and they got their wish when local rivals, Burnley were told they must visit Ewood Park. For most of the historic rivalry between the two clubs, Rovers had held the upper hand but this was a period when Burnley were top dogs. They were in the top flight and had narrowly missed out on both cup and League in recent seasons and had their cup trip to Rovers come a couple of weeks earlier they would have been overwhelming favourites to progress to the semi finals as they'd lost just once in eighteen outings. That great form was hit with back to back League defeats in the run up to this tie. Rovers had by now turned Ewood Park into a fortress with eleven straight victories in front of their own fans. All this build up, coupled with the rivalry, made it the biggest game of the quarter finals with Rovers' biggest gate of the season.

Burnley dominated the first half and deservedly led when Jackie Chew fired home a well worked goal but Rovers hung on and scored an equaliser at the perfect moment, right before the interval through Albert Nightingall. Blackburn came out for the second half a transformed team and it was a much more competitive tie now. Burnley still pressed but the game now turned full circle when Bill Holmes was offered the freedom of Ewood Park to head Rovers in front. A record equaling fourteenth appearance in the cup semi finals was now on the cards and Rovers sealed it with Burnley over committed to attack when Holmes won a race t a long clearance and was able to find Glover with even more time and space than Holmes himself had been given earlier. The winger composed himself before slamming the ball home and Burnley home.

Now the Rovers fans were dreaming of Wembley and the mere fact that cup holders, Newcastle stood in their way was of little consequence. Rovers more than matched their illustrious opponents and Bill Holmes could have won it with a great chance late on. Within a minute Robledo missed a sitter at the other end. The game offers a chilling warning to the future, not by the happenings on the field but off it as fans in the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough Stadium were tossed about like reeds in the wind in a dreadfully overcrowded terrace. An unheeded warning of events at the same game thirty-seven years later.

Elland Road was chosen for the replay and crowd control there was even worse with many fans fainting and seen to be in clear distress in the hopelessly overcrowded stands during the game. On the field, Rovers again were a match for their First Division rivals but in the second half there would be a roller coaster of emotions for their fans. Newcastle looked to be finally on their way to the final when they broke the deadlock but Blackburn wouldn't lie down and were rewarded when Eddie Quigley levelled with ten minutes remaining. Quigley also had a golden chance to take Rovers to Wembley in the dying moments only to see his effort drift agonisingly wide. From the resultant goal kick, Newcastle launched one last bid to prevent extra time and there were no complaints when Jackie Campbell used an arm to keep their certain winning goal out. Elvey guessed right for the penalty but couldn't keep it out and the cup holders went on to retain their trophy.

What had threatened to be a disastrous season turned into one of Rovers most exciting for years.

Rovers: 1:Reg Elvey, 2:Ron Stuart, 3:Bill Eckersley, 4:Jackie Campbell, 5:Willie Kelly, 6:Ronnie Clayton, 7:Jackie Wharton, 8:Eddie Crossan, 9:Bill Holmes, 10:Albert Nightingall, 11:Alec Glover. Manager:Jackie Bestall

Burnley:1:Jimmy Strong, 2:Jock Aird, 3:Harold Mather, 4:Jimmy Adamson, 5:Tommy Cummings, 6:Reg Attwell, 7:Jack Chew, 8:Billy Morris, 9:Bill Holden, 10:Les Shannon, 11:Billy Elliott. Manager:Frank Hill