The year is 1882 and the game between Blackburn Rovers and Sheffield Wednesday is causing concern amongst the members of the FA committee in London. As it was the first time that two sides from outside the Capital had reached the penultimate stage, they now had to ask themselves a question. Should they, as was the practice, order the tie to be played on the Kennington Oval or should they attempt to popularise their football code by staging it in the North of England? They chose the Fartown home of Huddersfield Rugby and Cricket club in Yorkshire.

The Rugby posts were removed and replaced by those suitable for the occasion while a powerful display of FA officialdom was observed in the pavilion when the players took to the field. It was the first time an association game had been played in an area where the population were only conversant with the code of football played under the rules of Rugby School. Nevertheless, there were plenty of visitors from both Blackburn and Sheffield to answer their many questions once the game was started by the FA President, Major Marindin.

Heavy overnight rain had fallen and the players struggled on a pitch that soon developed into a quagmire. The ball became waterlogged and went out of shape, so the oval variety was used until a suitable replacement was found. The game ended in 0-0 draw and so, for the first time in its history, the FA Cup semi-final had to be decided by a replay. The FA committee, encouraged by the attendance of 7,000 people, again decided to stage it in the North of England.

They chose the home of Manchester Wanderers at Whalley Range where the Association game was already being played. The weather was favourable and the crowd increased to around 10,000 people. During the first half Joe Hargreaves found his way into the record books by becoming the first player to score in both ends during an FA Cup semi-final when the game, standing at 1-1, reached the halfway stage. The Blackburn man again found himself on the score sheet as his side, who dominated the second moiety, won 5-1.

The Lancashire club had now gone 56 matches since their last defeat on New Year’s Day 1881, so a song was composed and printed in anticipation of their forthcoming victory in London. They were followed by two special trainloads of supporters who left the Mill Town around Midnight. The one obstacle that lay between them and their ultimate victory was the former pupils of Eton College in Berkshire.

The trophy had never been won by a team from outside the Metropolis and the Etonians, who had won it in 1879, were determined it would not find a new home in Lancashire. They were led by the red-bearded Scottish nobleman Lord Kinnaird and included William Anderson amongst their forwards. He registered the only goal of the game and thus became the first Liverpool born man to score in an FA Cup final.

The 1-0 victory ensured that the coveted trophy would remain the property of the Southern amateurs and their supporters celebrated in style. However, the breech that had been made was exploited by Blackburn Olympic side who beat the Etonians to be the first side to capture the trophy on behalf of the Red Rose County. The inhabitants of the Yorkshire, well they would have to wait until 1896 to see Sheffield Wednesday bring the trophy home to the County east of the Pennines.

Reader Comments (7)

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Dennis Stevens
1 Posted 24/08/2021 at 17:45:49
If only they'd had VAR!
Mike Gaynes
2 Posted 24/08/2021 at 18:22:01
I assume Etonians defended that 1-0 victory by parking the horse-drawn carriage.
Andy Crooks
3 Posted 24/08/2021 at 18:29:41
You're on form today,Mike!
Derek Thomas
4 Posted 25/08/2021 at 01:26:58
Somebody ought to make a TV series out of that tale... oh wait.

Seriously though, good stuff, Tony... You and Joe Hoare should get together and write the 2nd series about the dastardly carryings on by the Tory proto RS in The Sandon back in the 1890s.

Allen Rodgers
5 Posted 25/08/2021 at 12:42:38
Fascinating stuff. I always associate Huddersfield as the home of Rugby League and went to Fartown in the 1970's when it was very run down. The popular side terrace had evidently been little used but on this day a big crowd filled the terrace which was literally knee deep in weeds.
Peter Mills
6 Posted 25/08/2021 at 20:37:15
An interesting read, Tony.

I always enjoyed reading through the history of FA Cup winners, but they were just names. People like yourself, Rob Sawyer and Sam Hoare, in your different ways, have really put some flesh on the bones. Thank you.

Brent Stephens
7 Posted 27/08/2021 at 20:18:33
Soft penalty against us.

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