Concluding the story of Tottenham's great triumph of 1901 when they won the FA Cup. The only non-league side to do so since the Football League had been formed. A defining moment in the young club's history. As with so much in that history controversy would raise its head.
United having won the toss kicked and had the best of the opening minutes, Harry Erentz was called upon to make an excellent tackle and also headed clear before Spurs got over their tense start (Spurs were a trifle at sea at the outset) and eased into the game. Sheffield took the lead with a long range shot after eleven minutes. Legend has it a pigeon was released carrying the news home, by the time it reached Yorkshire Spurs were level. A free kick on the half hour and Brown headed home past Foulke’s who at nineteen stone is thought to be one of the biggest men ever to play the game. Both sides had other chances, Clawley was the busier while Foulke pulled off a great one handed save.
Soon after the break Spurs went ahead, Kirwan set Cameron free and he rolled the ball to Brown to score. It was then just a minute later one of the most famous moments in Cup Final lore occurred. A shot came in from the wing and some reports suggest the player was offside. Clawley couldn’t hold it and the ball bounced away for a corner, which the linesman signaled.
Left - The press were in no doubt about Sheffield's second goal.
Top - Spurs attack and just past the post
The players were taking up their places as the referee awarded a goal. Possibly the only man in the ground who thought so, he refused to consult the linesman and the Spurs players were inflamed but Cameron convinced them to accept the decision and play continued. After this the game was even Spurs made the better chances both Brown and Kirwan had good openings whilst United more of the play. The game went to a replay (1) again under the control of the same referee.
The replay was first scheduled to be played at Everton but Liverpool protested they had a game that same day so the final moved to Bolton a strange choice when other grounds were available which better served the two clubs fans. Even stranger was the fact that Bolton’s station was in the process of being rebuilt and the railway company refused to offer cheap fares.
Thus the gate was just 20,470, with season ticket holders the figure is properly nearer thirty thousand. Just a week after a world record crowd the second game was played out in front of the smallest cup final crowd in the twentieth century.
Indeed the game is often referred to as the empty final and Spurs receipts that day were just £400. Spurs started the game in wet and windy conditions on a pitch with a slope and were much the better of the sides, having a number of chances to open the scoring as Sheffield defended well. Although they started to produce ‘the rough stuff’ something that had been noted for the week before. As the game wore on United had several shots before they took the lead just before the break, Spurs had gone behind yet again.
The Spurs defence let their heads drop and United could have had a second. Cameron changed the tactical approach during the break and that would work as Spurs again took control and Brown had several attempts either saved or just wide. Then a move started by Tait at the back found Copeland he played a one two with Brown, out to Smith and then to Cameron to level the score.
The game then became a real struggle then with just quarter of an hour left United failed to clear and the ball fell to Smith who shot home to give Spurs the lead. It was all Spurs now but they added just one more when Brown headed home from a corner, his fifteenth goal of the competition, which is still a record. At the whistle Kirwan grabbed the ball and kept it till he died. The Times proclaimed of Spurs “the best football seen in the final tie for a long time.” The Sheffield club wrote that Spurs deserved victory.
The Spurs captain, Jack Jones, received the trophy adorned with blue and white ribbons which were tied on by Mrs Cadman, a wife of one of our directors. A custom that has been maintained to the present day.
Meanwhile back at WHL, five thousand Spurs fans who wanted to be kept abreast of the score from the north west were watching Spurs reserves ‘fill in’ for the first team V Gravesend in a Southern League game, (the Southern League had refused permission to postpone the game).
Spurs won 5-0.
Spurs - Taylor (ast. trainer), Erentz, Clawley, Tait, W. Johnson (trainer).
middle - Cameron (player / manager), Morris, Hughes,
J.L Jones (captain), Kirwan,
front - Smith, Brown and Copeland.
When the side returned to Tottenham, around 1am, it is estimated that 40,000 fans were there to welcome them. A band played ‘hail the conquering heroes come.’ The Weekly Herald could hardly contain itself with an article that managed to run the whole page and mention numerous figures in the clubs 19 year history.
The following week a celebration was held at the Kings Hall, Holborn and founder Bobby Buckle gave the toast. It was an amazing achievement for the club at such a tender age. It would be twenty years before the trophy was won again by a London club, Tottenham Hotspur.
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Notes - 1 - The provision for extra time was introduced in 1913.
Thanks, in addition to the usual sources, The National Archive, Sporting Life, The Sportsman, Lancashire Evening News, Evening Standard, The Morning Post, Hackney Gazette, Nottingham Post.
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