The Giant Killers

Every F A cup giant killing since 1888

All time greatest F A cup giant killings

Number 69

 Arsenal 0-1 Bradford

Third Round 

Saturday January 10th 1948

Highbury, Islington, London

Attendance:47,738

Scorers: Billy Elliott {36}

Ranked at the time:19

The Railway was Nationalised into British Rail, Burma gained it's Independence from Britain, Warner Brothers showed their first colour newsreel in cinemas across the USA, Humphrey Bogart portrayed a prospector driven mad by a gold strike in 'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre', The BBC launched its 'Television Newsreel' and Vaughan Munroe had a hit with 'Ballerina'   

Bradford, the Park Avenue bit was always merely in brackets to distinguish them from their Rugby counterparts, had long since been languishing in Football's second tier, dreaming of a return to the big time. Sadly, the end of World War II, which presented a great opportunity for many second tier sides to out grow their top fight rivals, was not prevalent at Horton Park Avenue.  Instead Bradford found themselves struggling at the wrong end of the division and facing the possibility of relegation to the third tier.

A good cup run could often give such a side the precious funds needed to kick on so when the third round F A cup draw took the men from Horton Park Avenue to Highbury to face the mighty Arsenal, the Bradford directors must have had deeply mixed emotions. Arsenal were top of the league, having had their colours lowered just twice in twenty-five outings this season and with a solid six point cushion over their rivals, few were prepared to bet against them going on to clinch the title in April. This was to be step one in their bid to land the League and Cup double. Opponents, Bradford would be respected but despatched without difficulty. 

To add to the excitement among Bradford fans was the news that the BBC would broadcast the game live on Television, making this the first ever live F A cup tie to be broadcast. There was much confusion and disappointment when, just the day before the game, The BBC announced that the Football League had stepped in and banned them from broadcasting. The League responded with bemusement, arguing their innocence but by then it was too late and the Beeb had already made plans to fill the slot with an amateur match, something they would continue to do regularly in the late forties and early fifties. A live Televised third round cup tie would have to wait another thirty-six years and hindsight suggests that, despite their protestations of ignorance, The Football League probably had stepped in and blocked the broadcast.

Instead it was left to BBC radio to bring second half commentary to the entire nation, rather than the select few who owneed a TV and they struggled to believe what they were hearing. The first half, as was the norm in the early post war era, wasn't broadcast but the sports reporter on site was able, at regular intervals, to tell the public that it was Arsenal and not Bradford, who were on the back foot and struggling. And with the exception of the very experienced George Male, who was deep in the tail end of his career, this was a full strength Gunner's side Twice George Swindin was called on to make top drawer saves to deny White and Downey and reassure the nervous home fans that Bradford's squandered chances would be their ultimate downfall.

A goal before the break was vital to cap a first half that the visitors dominated and it deservedly came when Henry fed a perfect ball for Billy Elliott to race on to and lash past Swindin. Bradford's only disappointment at half time could surely only have been that they weren't already three or four goals up and out of sight. In the other dressing room, Arsenal keeper, George Swindin must have had a few choice words for his team mates, having been forced into another excellent save from Elliott just before the interval. When Swindin was beaten, goal bound efforts were cleared away by George Male and Les Compton. Rarely had Arsenal been so battered on their own ground when fielding such a commandingly superior team.

Arsenal could only improve in the second half as a very different and more attritional game developed. Bradford's work rate as an attacking force couldn't possibly be maintained so now the game became a defensive battle. A new game it may have been but just as the forward line had won the first half, now the back line won the second. Arsenal rotated their forward line in a desperate effort to try and make a breakthrough but Chic Farr would remain relatively untroubled throughout an increasingly gloomy afternoon. It was perhaps a pity for Bradford that their fans back home, many of whom were denied the chance to go to Highbury due to travel restrictions that remained in place due to petrol shortages, didn't hear first hand the number of chances they carved out in the first half and were instead treated to a dour second period where they counted down the minutes to the final whistle.

Arsenal manager Tom Whitaker took the defeat on the chin and confessed that Bradford were fully deserving of their victory, not least for not panicing in the closing stages of the game. Meanwhile, delighted fans gathered at the train station in Bradford to greet the team on their arrival home at shortly before midnight that night.

Monday brought with it the draw for the fourth round and the fates offered mixed fortunes for the men from Horton Park Avenue as they were drawn away to one of  the teams who had shared their giant killing weekend glory, Non League Colchester, who had slain Huddersfield.

The clash of the giant killers was how the tie was dubbed with Colchester manager, Ted Fenton declaring that he would tinker his now famous F plan to despense with the second division outfit, adding "We like Yorkshire pudding in Colchester." .Avenue now experienced role reversal in what turned out to be a hum dinger of a cup tie. Things started well for the Yorkshire men with Billy Elliott opening the scoring only for Colchester to score twice in three minutes to turn the game on it's head. but when Ainsley equalised it looked as if Bradford would go on and win the game comfortably as Jackie Smith hit the bar and thn Roy White twice fired narrowly wide. Colchester made them pay just three minutes into the second half and went on to dominate the rest of the game, scoring twice more only to see both goals disallowed. And so Bradford's cup exploits came to an end for another year but the side would keep their cup exploits fresh to put in another mamoth cupset in 1949 against Newcastle United.

Arsenal: 1:George Swindin, 2:George Male, 3:Laurie Scott, 4:Archie MacAuley, 5:Les Compton, 6:Joe Mercer, 7:Don Roper, 8:Jimmy Logie, 9:Reg Lewis, 10:Ronnie Rooke, Ian McPherson
 
Bradford: 1:Chic Farr, 2:Ronnie Hepworth, 3:Arthur Farrell, 4:Roy White, 5:Ron Greenwood, 6:Bill Deplidge, 7:Jackie Smith, 8:Gerry Henry, 9:George Ainsley, 10:Johnny Downie, 11:Billy Elliott