The Giant Killers

Every F A cup giant killing since 1888

All time greatest F A cup giant killings

Number 48

 

Norwich City 3-1Sunderland

First round: Saturday 14th January 1911

The Nest, Rosary Road, Norwich

Attendance: 11,426

Scorers: Walter Hampson {4, 75}, Eddie Whitehouse {9}, Arthur Bridgett {25}

Marc McDermott and Charles Ogle’s performances as Scrooge and Cratchit in the classic A Christmas Carol was still attracting audiences after the festive season, Henry Champion had a huge music hall hit with I am Henery the eighth, I am, Herbert Asquith was in his third year as the Liberal Prime Minister, preparations were underway for the coronation of King George V and the Siege of Sydney Street saw two of the Latvian gang suspected of the murder of three police officers in December die in a fire following a shoot out with police and soldiers.

Sunderland were lying fourth in the first division but had lost vital ground in the title race over the Christmas period through inconsistent form to lie five points adrift of leaders, Manchester United when the draw for the third round of the F A cup sent them to mid table Southern League Norwich City.

For the Rokerites it was just three years since Southern League New Brompton had knocked them out of the cup at the same stage and their fans would have been well aware of Norwich’s abilities, The Canaries having claimed the scalps of Sheffield Wednesday and Liverpool during the same period.

Probably unknown to most Sunderland fans was that the only thing left from the great 1908 cup upset of Wednesday was the Norwich kit of yellow shirts, white shorts and green socks for not only had the manager moved on but all eleven players involved had gone to pastures new as well. If that wasn’t enough of a change then even the ground for the Sunderland tie would be different as Norwich had vacated Newmarket Road for a new home on Rosary Road, known, thanks to the Canary nickname as the Nest. It was a suitable name too as the ground had been built on a disused chalk pit and one side was built into the chalk cliffs, which made it a very compact and narrow pitch for a team as prestigious as Sunderland.

Rather than travel direct to the ground on match day, Sunderland decamped to Cromer on the Friday morning, the plan being that a relaxing stay at the Red Lion Hotel would be much better than a long cold train journey before kick off. For the Norfolk press it was a rare chance to catch up with a top flight club in mufti although their canny Ulsterman manager Bob Kyle had warned his players against any pre match boasting. Only captain Charlie Thomson responded when cautiously stating that on paper at least Sunderland should win. Kyle meanwhile was more concerned with The Nest, feeling that the ground’s compact nature would make things difficult, especially with so few Sunderland fans expected to make the trip, though he went on to tell the journalists that he felt a heavy pitch would suit his fitter players, about whom he made the prophetic statement “They are fit to fight for a Kingdom.”

These men, who in three short years would do just that included a trio of England internationals in Tim Coleman, George Holley and Arthur Bridgett, the double Scottish cup winner and International Charlie Thomson, the soon to be Scottish International Tommy Tait and 1902 Championship veteran Jimmy Gemmell.

Norwich by contrast had only one player of the calibre of his Sunderland opponents, Sam Wolstenholme, who had been recognised by England during a sturdy if trophyless career at Everton and Blackburn but there was one problem, Wolstenholme was declared unfit to play. That left Norwich with just one other player who had played at the highest level and even then Billy Hampson had made just two starts for Bury and, unlike Wolstenholme, he wasn’t a forward. Even so Hampson not only took on the role of captain but also played out of position to lead the attack. Surely it must have been difficult for the Sunderland players and officials not to have smiled when they got this news before kick off.

Even the hope of a record crowd and huge gate receipts were to allude Norwich when just 11,426 fans turned up as the Sunderland faithful decided against the daunting journey to Norwich, even with a promise by the railways that it wouldn’t involve going via London. A solitary football special unloaded a cargo of less than thirty diehard Rokerites in a very disappointing display when compared to the invasion of Wednesdayites three years ago.

No matter for the Norwich fans, who had journeyed from all corners of East Anglia, including, to the horror of any modern day Ipswich fan, many from Suffolk, which in those days didn’t have a club of their own to support and they were going to make sure that the tight little ground was an uncomfortable place for the stars of the North East.

Norwich was one of the few places in the United Kingdom not swallowed in the heavy showers that dampened most other cup tie crowds or the fog which descended on London and caused the abandonment of a tie there. Instead the locals arrived in bright winter sunshine after a sharp overnight frost, which left the heavily sanded pitch soft, if not heavy as many had predicted.

The stars of Sunderland emerged first in their famous red and white shirts, though their black shorts and socks were a recent change from their more familiar blue. Norwich followed in canary yellow shirts, white shorts and green socks to huge cheers from all sides of the ground, although many noted that the first division side looked larger and fitter man for man and that should surely count in their favour. In short, the Norwich faithful were at The Nest for a day out and though talk of recent victories over Sheffield Wednesday and Liverpool was common among the fans, few could see Sunderland crumbling so easily.

The game started in sensational fashion that not even the most optimistic City fan could have dreamed of as the hosts roared into a two goal lead with Sunderland having seemingly left their football minds back in the dressing room. Chief architect of this great start to the game was winger Len Jobling, himself a native of Sunderland, whose bombing runs and precise crosses in the opening exchanges caused all manner of problems for the Sunderland back line.

Just four minutes were on the clock when Jobling crossed for Billy Hampson to shoot first time past a wrong footed Thomas Allan to put City in front. Naturally the home fans were delighted but even better came five minutes later with Sunderland still trying to get their game together they were caught in almost exactly the same way. Again they failed to get to grips with the crossing of Jobling who this time swept in an inviting ball for Eddie Whiteside, whose volley flew past a bemused Allan.

The Norwich fans couldn’t believe what they were seeing as Sunderland had been totally outclassed in the opening ten minutes, though nobody was writing their epitaph just yet with some feeling that if anything Norwich might suffer at the speed of their success as eighty minutes was more than enough time for Sunderland to recover the situation.

Sure enough Jobling and Ingham saw very little of the ball for the remainder of the first half and the forwards were forced to become a first line of defence as the First Leaguers poured forward in search of a route back into the game. Now with the forwards having done their job it was time for keeper Bobby Beale, who had celebrated his twenty-seventh birthday earlier in the week, to embark on the greatest eighty minutes he was

Image above: How the Eastern Daily press captured the scene as {top} the two captains toss up and {below} Allan is left on his backside by Hampson's fourth minute effort to open the scoring. ever to put in between the posts. Kirkman and MacKenzie too were in fantastic form, throwing themselves in front of wave after wave of Sunderland attacks and when they were beaten Beale came rushing out of goal to smother the ball before any forward could get a clear shot at goal.

The intense pressure couldn’t continue without some reward for Sunderland but when it did come it was more through luck than judgement as Jock MacKenzie made his only mistake of the whole afternoon when mistiming his challenge on Arthur Bridgett who swept the ball past the wrong footed defender before lashing in a shot which gave Beale no chance. A groan rather than a cheer met the goal with so few visiting fans on the scene and with the game only twenty-five minutes old there seemed no way now that Norwich could hold out for the victory as the pressure continued right to half time. Holley fired a Gemmell cross over the bar when presented with a free header, and then was too slow to react when Beale made a rare mistake in dropping a cross right at the striker’s feet, the keeper was the quicker to react, kicking the ball off the forward’s foot. When Beale was beaten Jock MacKenzie had the chance to make amends for his error by clearing off the line from Bridgett and a series of corners and crosses were kept out by the keeper and his overworked backs.

The Sunderland players didn’t want the half time whistle to come but when it did it was met with loud cheering, especially for Beale as he made his way the length of the field to the dressing room having already proved himself a hero several times over.

The interval worked in Norwich’s favour as they were able to gather their composure again for the start of the second half in which Sunderland again started sluggishly, having lost their momentum. Ingham and Jobling again found the space they had been afforded in the opening ten minutes with the former going through himself to force a good save from Allan while the latter stayed on his wing to whip in another couple of dangerous crosses, which were this time dealt with well by Billy Troughear who was the only Sunderland defender impressing the home fans, having kept centre forward McCall out of the game virtually throughout. Five minutes into the second period Sunderland got the wake up call they needed when Jobling for once decided not to cross, instead darting in from the wing to crack a low drive off the foot of the post with Allan beaten .

The remaining forty minutes were almost entirely played at the other end of the field with Norwich surely set to be made to pay for Jobling’s bad luck. Within a couple of minutes another defensive error almost proved costly when a hesitant Kirkham left the ball for Beale who had to race out of his goal to collect with a possee of Sunderland forwards bearing down on him. Then Billy Askew’s back pass cannoned off a team mate to George Holley who had the goal at his mercy with Beale left out of position. Again the keeper was the hero, throwing his body in front of the goal bound shot to keep it out with the rebound being looped on to the top of the empty net. Freddy Wilkinson was so impressed with his keeper that he shook his hand as if he had just stopped a penalty.

Beale’s work was far from done though as Sunderland forwards burst through three times in the space of the next five minutes only to be thwarted every time by the agile keeper getting to the ball first every time with his counterpart now reduced to the role of virtual spectator.

Norwich had been reduced to long hopeful clearances to take the pressure off but with just over a quarter of an hour left they should have increased their lead when Jobling yet again set up Hampson only for the makeshift forward to fire over the bar. The miss raised another huge groan from the home fans, now almost convinced that a Sunderland equaliser was a formality yet within a minute Hampson had another chance to kill off the visitors. Again a long clearance had been picked up by Jobling whose pass put Hampson in a great position to lash the ball past a stranded Allan to completely change the feeling in the ground. The Norwich fans, so quiet for most of the second half, erupted in noise and suddenly the belief they had been given after five minutes was back. With the defence in the form they were in there was no way Sunderland were getting level now and the body language of some of the Sunderland players emphasised it as many stood, hands on hips staring at the ground as the ball was brought back to the centre circle.

The final fifteen minutes were played out in front of a much happier crowd as Sunderland now looked like a beaten side for the first time. They continued to attack throughout, especially as every Norwich clearance was met with an offside flag against McCall virtually on the half way line with only Troughear and Allan now staying back, these being the days of the old three man offside rule. Beale meanwhile dived on everything that came into the penalty area with Sunderland’s forwards unable to get a clean shot at goal as every save and clearance was met with cheering.

One wayward clearance went out for a throw near the penalty area with literally seconds left. Captain Charlie Thomson went to the crowd to get the ball and was met with a hail of waggy comments and jeers from the delighted Norwich fans, no doubt keen to wind up the Sunderland man but it was a measure of the manner in which his team were about to take defeat that Thomson merely smiled, shrugged his shoulders and said “We can’t win every time now can we?” To be met by a huge cheer from those who heard it. That cheer was killed off by an even louder roar when the final whistle signalled the now obligatory pitch invasion to chair the heroes from the field.

To their credit Sunderland didn’t hide from their defeat with Charlie Thomson accepting that Norwich deserved to win for taking their chances while Sunderland did not, although he was particularly critical of Jackie Mordue and Tim Coleman for their wastefulness.

Once the telegrams began circulating into the newsrooms up and down the country it became quickly apparent that this was the blackest day for the top flight in F A cup history as six clubs had been undone, to this day still the highest number of victims on one day, though none was bigger than Sunderland’s defeat.

For Sunderland that five point deficit remained too big a gap to close and they finished the season in third place while Norwich were rewarded with a trip to Bradford in round two of the cup where thirty thousand fans were silenced when William Ingham headed the Canaries into a first half lead but another shock wasn’t to be as Bradford rallied in the second half to come back and win the tie 2-1 with just ten minutes remaining, going on to win the cup itself for the only time in their history.

Naturally the performances of Bobby Beale and Len Jobling didn’t go unnoticed by the top flight elite though it was Billy Askew who was the first canary to fly the nest when signed by Aston Villa before the season was out. Sadly Askew was unable to break into the Villa first team, making just two appearances while both Jobling and Beale were snapped up the following year but with very differing results. Jobling also managed just two appearances for Manchester City while Beale became the regular man between the sticks across the city at Manchester United, clocking up over a century of appearances.

If Beale’s performance went some way to launching a successful if trophyless career at the highest level he was bettered by the double goal scoring hero Billy Hampson who departed The Nest in 1914 for Newcastle. Hampson’s career looked to be over when war was declared that year but he returned to St James’ after the hostilities and managed to get his place back when into his thirties, going on to record his own piece of cup history when he became the oldest player to play in the final in 1924. Hampson gained a winners medal that day and wasn’t finished there, going on to make two appearances in Newcastle’s 1927 title winning side before dropping back down to South Shields before retiring. After a management career most notable for his time at Leeds, Billy Hampson passed away in 1966.

Norwich City: 1:Bobby Beale, 2:Albert Kirkham, 3:Jock Mackenzie, 4:Freddy Wilkinson, 5:Billy Askew, 6:Chick, 7:Len Jobling, 8:William Ingham, 9:Billy Hampson, 10:Eddie Whiteside, 11:McCall {Manager Bert Stansfield}

Sunderland: 1:Thomas Allan, 2:Billy Troughear, 3:Harry Forster, 4:Tommy Tait, 5:Charlie Thomson, 6:Harry Low, 7:Jackie Mordue, 8:Tim Coleman, 9:George Holley, 10:Jimmy Gemmell, 11:Arthur Bridgett

1911

Norwich City

Sunderland