The Great FA Cup Adventure 80 Years Ago ….

Round 5, Sheffield United (away) 11th February 1939

Town, having beaten Millwall over two games in Round 4, were drawn to play Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

Town fans, then as now, flocked to the game. With no way of splitting the numbers of home and away fans – they were allowed all over the ground in those days – we’re left with local estimates of the Mighty Mariners fans numbers. 5 special trains had made the journey to south Yorkshire, with 3,000 on board, and all the coaches in the town headed west too, so at least 6,000 in total are thought to be supporting the Mariners.

The game was watched by over 60,000 people in total, but was marred by a strong wind which persisted throughout the whole 90 minutes. It was at the backs of the Blades players during the first half, and they dominated the match with its help. The second half produced the opposite effect with the Mariners over-keen to use the wind. Pat Glover – making his first appearance in the Cup of 1939 (he had been out for almost half a season due to an “attack of rheumatism”), used his electric speed of thought to outpace the Sheffield defence but he also beat the linesman who thought he was offside!

The game ended in a scoreless draw, and the replay was played at Blundell Park on the following Tuesday.

Round 5, Sheffield United (home), 14th February 1939

For the replay, Howe replaced Glover. At centre half for the Blades was Tom Johnston, who would be Town’s manager in the 1960s.

Early estimates suggested that there were 25,000 in Blundell Park with still ten minutes to go to kick-off, though many official figures declare only 14,500. The Grimsby Telegraph two days later reported 24,500 as the official attendance, with receipts of £1,850.

Town started the match at a gallop, raining in shots on the Sheffield goal, with the occasional sally forward by the Blades. The recalled Howe had fully recovered from his injury sustained in the win over Millwall in the fourth round, and he was lightning quick today.

In the 37th minute, Town made the breakthrough, and it was indeed Howe who did it. He had been shaken up in a solid tackle, and took up position, as was the wont in the days before substitutes, on the wing. This though was to be the cause of huge celebration! Cutting in from the left Howe beat the Sheffield keeper by his near post to score the only goal of the game!

The second half degenerated somewhat with players getting rid of the ball too quickly, but in one incident, Crack looked to be about to double Town’s lead when he dribbled into the box, only to be barged over from behind, and then had the Sheffield keeper land on top of him. Despite huge cries for a penalty, the referee waved play on.

Towards the end of the match, the Blades rallied but Town’s defence held firm, and the Mariners progressed to the sixth round.

Who their opponents would be wasn’t known at the time, as the match between Sheffield Wednesday and Chelsea had to go to a second replay decider.

The finances connected with this game make interesting reading!

Attendance: 24,575
Gross receipts: £1,836 18s 6d

Entertainment tax: 301 16s 0d
Ref and Linesmen: £10 10s
Printing, posting, adverts: £8
Gatemen: £16
Police: £8 5s
Visiting teams expenses: £8 11s
FA £74 3s 10d

Each Club therefore received £704 16s 4d, out of which they had to pay the Football League £7 1s for players insurance.


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