Unlikely Semi Finalists?

FA Cup semi-final weekend.
It will for many be the high point of the season, but ultimately the unsuccessful semi finalists will largely be forgotten.
If we accept a certain standard of knowledge of the antiquity of football and a familiarity with the list of FA Cup Winners of the 19th century, I think you'll agree that a look at the semi finalists of that era still throws up some unexpected names.
Incidentally there was only one semi final in the 1872-73 season, when the competition was played as a 'challenge cup' for the only time. There were also a further 5 seasons in which teams received a bye at the semi- final stage.

1874, 1876, 1886:  Swifts
The origins of this Slough based  club are somewhat obscure, but they seem to have been active as early as 1868.
8 Swifts players represented England, including the 3 Bambridge brothers.
 The club were absorbed in a merger in 1890.

1875: Shropshire Wanderers
An example of the way in which the model of the aristocratic gentleman's club was transferred into a more provincial setting. Wanderers feature significantly in the history of Welsh football- their semi final team featured founder of the Football Association of Wales Llewelyn Kenrick and Wales/England international John Hawley-Edwards.  

1881: Darwen
Before being eclipsed by Blackburn Rovers Darwen were the pre-eminent side in Lancashire. In 1879 they had been in the headlines for their epic 3 game quarter final struggle with Old Etonians .
In 1881 they went one better, marching to the semis with 33 goals in 4 matches. However, Old Carthusians swept them away with a second half comeback.

1882: Marlow
In the season in which the names of  familiar professional teams began to appear with greater regularity (The  Wednesday and Blackburn Rovers contesting one semi final), Old Etonians' opponents were Marlow, who had played in the very first FA Cup.

1886: Small Heath Alliance
In 1886 the club that evolved into Birmingham City joined Swifts in the semis, but they lost out to West Bromwich Albion and Blackburn Rovers.

1887: Glasgow Rangers 
 Every schoolboy knows that Queen's Park of Glasgow reached 2 consecutive FA Cup Finals. Rangers sought to emulate them in the 1886-87 season, when as one of 7 Scottish clubs to enter they reached the semis before losing to Aston Villa at Crewe.

1888: Crewe Alexandra,  Derby Junction
What a final that would have been. The public had to settle for West Bromwich Albion versus Preston North End. 
Crewe would win the Welsh Cup in 1936 and 1937 but they've not yet had another sniff of FA Cup glory.
Derby Junction were a club formed by the alumni of Junction Street School. They folded in 1895.

1900: Milwall Athletic
Milwall had been Southern League champions in both 1895 and 1896. Their semi final appearance ended in a defeat at the hands of Southampton, also of the Southern League.


Maximiliano Susán

Max Susán played 24 games for the Argentina national team between 1908 and 1913. He scored 9 goals, including 4 in the Copa Lipton match of 1913. 
A one- club man, he represented Club Atlético Estudiantes from 1904 until 1915. In 1909  Susán scored 12 goals in a single game, an 18-0 win over Lomas Athletic. 
This was the amateur era of Argentina football. Susán was actually a university student when he joined Estudiantes - studying to become a veterinary surgeon.


Der Papierene

In December 1932 Hugo Meisl's Austrian Wunderteam took on England at Stamford Bridge.
Here we see the great centre forward, Matthias Sindelar, in training in preparation for the game.
The game could be seen as the first of many wake up calls that England has recieved from continental sides down the years. 
English team lucky to win, was the Manchester Guardian's verdict; There could not be the slightest doubt that as a team (Austria) were the superiors.
 According to The Times  It was victory and no more... And it was by no means easily earned.


England 1904

The England squad in Glasgow ahead of their 1904 meeting with Scotland. The startched collars and watch chains speak of affluence. Woodward (an architect) and Harris (son of a senior Civil Servant and studying at Cambridge University) were amateurs. The remainder were the noveau riche on £4 a week.
The players pictured are, from left to right:

Steve Bloomer – inside right
Derby County
John Rutherford-outside right
Newcastle United
Bernard Wilkinson- centre half
Sheffield United
Alec Leake – left half
Aston Villa
Alf Common – forward (reserve)
Sheffield United
Fred Blackburn -outside left
Blackburn Rovers
Abraham Jones- centre half (reserve)
Tom Baddeley – goalkeeper
Wolverhampton Wanderers
Vivian Woodward- centre forward
Tottenham Hotspur
Herbert Burgess -left back
Manchester City
Sam Wolstenholme – right half
Bob Crompton – right back (captain)
Blackburn Rovers
Stanley Harris -inside left
Old Westminsters

England, who won that year's British Home Championship, were 1-0 winners  thanks to a 64th minute goal from Bloomer. 


Bohemian Corinthians in Russia 1910

In 1910 a Bohemian representative side drawn from 4 clubs visited St Petersburg, Moscow and then London.  This was during a period when Bohemia (or the Czechs) were without representation in the international arena. Of the tourists Richard Veselý had represented Bohemia whilst they were recognized by FIFA (1906-08).  Inspired, no doubt, by the visits of Corinthian FC to Prague during the 1900s the team styled themselves Corinthians. When they played in London, the tourists were billed as Bohemia 
The squad was as follows- some of the players first names are not recorded.
Jan Hejda
Richard Veselý
Karel Bukovský
Union Žižkov
Union Žižkov
Josef Beneš
Ladislav Medek
Union Žižkov
Zdeněk Jahn

St.Petersburg B
St. Petersburg
Sport SK ground
St. Petersburg
Sport (спорт)
SKS ground
all dates New Style. 

Ladislav Medek is reported to have scored 14 goals in the opening match.

The Moscow team that inflicted a 1-0 defeat on the tourists was made up of 9 Britons and 2 Russians. The Russian press at the time referred to the match as an 'international'. The game attracted 3,000 spectators, and was played on a hard, frozen pitch.  Medek dislocated his shoulder.  Newman headed the Moscow goal in the 70th minute. 

Moscow XI

Whilst hailing the win as a triumph for football in Russia, contemporary reports  conceded that result flattered the victors, and that the Czechs had been over confident in their approach to the game.



31st May 1934, Stadio Littoriale, Bologna. Before the Hungary v Austria match, the process of selecting the match ball. I believe the picture shows Sternberg László (holding the balls) and  Hans Horvath (pointing). Referee Francesco Mattea (Italy) behind Horvath and possibly  Hungary coach Nádas Ödön on the left.
We have seen that in 1930 there was controversy over which ball was used in the final. In Italy 1934 there were 3 different models of ball in use, and the teams would decide which one to use before each game. 


Wie der Fußball nach Deutschland kam

ein großer Spaß!

The pre-history of Association football in Germany is very complex. The picture is complicated by 2 factors. Firstly the misleading formation dates of clubs which, though now practitioners of Association football, were in existence for decades before they took to the sport. Secondly the persistence of Rugby and other hybrid forms of  rules.
Even the followers of Konrad Koch did not abandon handling and carrying the ball until the 1880s.
There was also a certain ideological opposition to football as being a very un Germanic pastime. Gymnastics and fencing were the focus of most organized sports clubs. 

Dresden Football Club, March 1874. Note the Stars and Stripes.

Dresden  Football Club (often referred to as Dresden English Football Club) consisting of British and American expats, were playing a form of football in 1874. The contemporary press reports refer to the ball being 'propelled forwards by the foot' and, given the novelty of the spectacle, one would assume that if anything akin to Rugby had been played, the reporter would have mentioned the chaos and hurly burly of that game . The games appear to have been played amongst club members in the city's Große Garten.
The first competitive game featuring Dresden Football Club against another club  was not until 1891, when English F.C. (Berlin) were the opponents. 
By this time the first competitive inter club Association football match in Germany had been played:  In 1888  Heidelberg College beat English Football Club Freiburg 2-1. The Freiburg team originated in an English style military academy in the town. 
Another cradle of German football was Braunschweig. It was here that August Hermann and Konrad Koch promoted ballgames in an echo of English muscular christianity. They appear to have had strong Rugby inclinations. Here is a link to an interesting history of the development of German football from the Braunschweig. The text is in German:   


Råsunda, 1937

Right at the end of the pre 'D' era England undertook a 3 match tour, playing Norway, Sweden and Finland. England, wearing numbered jerseys for the first time, racked up 18 unanswered goals. Purists and nostalgists note that England lined up by squad number rather than 1-11!

The postcard above shows the Sweden team. The Sweden - England  match marked the inauguration of the Råsunda stadium at Solna, although AIK had beaten Malmö FF 4-0 there on April 18th

England won 4-0 with goals from Freddie Steele (3) and Joe Johnson.

Gustav Sjöberg 
A.I.K. Solna
Nils Axelsson 
Hälsingborgs I.F
Walter Sköld 
A.I.K. Solna
Fritz Berg    
I.F.K. Göteborg
Sven Andersson   ©
A.I.K. Solna
Ernst Andersson 
I.F.K. Göteborg
Gustaf Josefsson 
A.I.K. Solna
Erik Persson 
A.I.K. Solna
Sven Jonasson 
I.F. Elfsborg
Karl-Erik Grahn 
I.F. Elfsborg
Axel Nilsson 
A.I.K. Solna


F. Boyington's Football Boots Are Unequalled

Nottingham Evening Post 28.09.80

Frederick Boyington played cricket and football for a club in Nottingham called Castle Gate. He relocated to London in the mid 1880s, and although the 1891 census records his occupation as Cricket and Football Guard Maker he was, for 40 years, the scorer for Surrey County Cricket Club.
S.W Widdowson's contribution to the history of the game has already been covered here.



Schaffer Alfréd, (aka Alfred Schaffer) played for 21 different clubs in a 15 year career. He played top level football in Hungary, Germany, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Austria and the United States, and won league championships in 3 different countries (Hunagary, Germany and Austria). 
Spezi represented Hungary 15 times, scoring 17 goals.
He had 2 remarkable seasons with MTK (Magyar Testgyakorlók Köre Budapest Futball Club).
1917-18: 22 matches 46 goals.
1918-19: 19 matches 41 goals.
A feat made even more extraordinary when you consider that he had Imre Schlosser (the most prolific scorer in the history of Hungarian football ) alongside him. 
In the 1914-19 period he played 89 league games for MTK, scoring 154 goals!
He went on to enjoy a lengthy career as a manager in Germany, Austria,  Hungary, Romania and Italy.