It was a case of one game too many for Derby, who were hampered by injuries. Most significantly Steve Bloomer was absent, whilst Fryer, Morris and Goodall all came into the final carrying knocks.
The relative strengths of these two sides can be judged from the fact that they finished the 1902-03 League season level on points (in 8th & 9th places)
Bury reached the final without conceding a single goal.
Both teams wore change colours, Bury sky blue and Derby County red.
Derby goalkeeper Fryer sustained a further injury in the 1st half and was incapacitated altogether soon after the break. Bury's 2nd goal in the 49th minute was a significant turning point. Fryer went off after colliding with Sagar as the latter scored. Morris went into goal and Derby played 1-3-5. Under the rules of the day this created an effective offside trap, but Bury soon overcame this inconvenience. Fryer returned with the score at 3-0 but conceded twice in rapid succession and left the field permanently after the 5th goal.
The Sheffield Independent described the match as '(the) worst final. tame and dull', commenting on the subdued atmosphere in the 1st half, the pessimism of the Derby fans and the fact that thousands of spectators were leaving the ground after 70 minutes.
Other accounts portray Derby as being anxious, lacklustre, and showing poor ball control.
Fryer, a big man for the times at 6 ft 1 and 15 st (1.85, 95kg) moved to Fulham that May.