Thursday, 1 March 2012

Bury's record gate - March 1st 1900

112 years ago today, Bury had their largest crowd for a replayed FA Cup match with Sheffield United, the first match having finished 2-2 at Bramall Lane.

1900 FA Cup Third Round replay
Thursday March 1st 1900

Having given themselves a great chance of making the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the first time Bury were assured of a good crowd for the replay. In fact events off the pitch, thousands of miles away in South Africa, transpired to create what is almost certainly the largest crowd ever seen at Gigg Lane, beating even the record gate of 35,000 that was set sixty years later for another FA Cup game, this time against Bolton Wanderers.

Great rejoicing had accompanied the news received on the evening of February 28th that the siege of Ladysmith in South Africa had been ended after 118 days of increasing privation amongst the inhabitants, the Boers having failed to breach the town’s defences. The news came only weeks after the slaughter at the Spion Kop. 

Bury 2
Thompson, Darroch and Davidson, Pray, Leeming and Ross, Richards, Wood, McLuckie, Sagar and Plant

Scorers - Richards - 65 minutes, Plant - 75 mins

Sheffield United 0
Foulke, Boyle and Thickett, Johnson, Morren, Needham, Priest, Almond, Hedley, Beers and Bennett

Referee - Mr Scragg of Crewe
Half-time 0-0
Attendance - 20,139
Receipts £686 9s 6d

The description of the pre-match scenes are taken from the Bury Guardian

The Red Rose is triumphant, and the biggest crowd that ever assembled at Shakerville witnessed the splendid victory of Lancashire’s only hope.

The town was literally taken by storm on Thursday, and after the railway trials had been overcome the invaders, who proved a very mobile force indeed, as they did the distance between the stations and the ground in record time, attacked the entrances to the ground, and as a result of the unprecedented pressure brought to bear upon the gates they, in their eagerness, waxed impatient at what they deemed the insufficiently quick surrender of the tickets, and forthwith proceeded to storm the citadel, escalading the walls and, overcoming the strenuous opposition of the defenders [police and officials], rushed into the grounds without depositing the accustomed silver.

As the defaulters, animated by the spirit of mischievous success, scaled the division to the shilling enclosure, and despite a sound belabouring by the sticks of the inspector and police in charge [and the wielders were no chickens] scores got over, securing better positions.

The takings were over £200 higher than the previous best at the ground [£465 in the Bury - Bolton Wanderers’ fiasco some years ago] totting up to £686 9s 6d.

The relief of Ladysmith came in very opportunely, and as all Lancashire celebrated the achievement in which their representative Fusiliers have taken such a noble part and have suffered so much by a general holiday, and as there was only one big event on in the county that afternoon, it necessarily followed that the Gigg Lane enclosure was the centre of gravitation.

Tis a pity the ground was not bigger, as many hundreds - one estimate puts it at 20,000 - were unable to obtain admission. It is practically certain that had the accommodation been adequate to the demands made upon it there would have been a thousand pound gate.

The enthusiasm, military and football, simply bubbled over, and it is very many years since such a scene was witnessed in Bury. Hundreds travelled long distances to see the match and then failed to get either a sight of it or admission into the grounds, while very many others had to take their view of the match by proxy. It meant enterprising climbers invaded the trees overlooking the ground.

Sheffield were the first out and had to make themselves through the assembled throng, and when they were followed by Bury a great cheer could be heard many miles away with some of the spectators waving small Union Jacks. Pray won the toss and set Needham’s men to face the wind.

From the off Bury pushed forward and Boyle was in smartly to clear the ball. Foulke, showing admirable athleticism for such a big man was down smartly to block Plant’s shot, and then as Richards and Wood opened up the Sheffield defence only a last gasp Boyle tackle prevented the opening goal. Foulke punched away two crosses when challenged in the air before Thickett was injured and was helped from the field after a tackle with Richards. Although he later returned he was to all intents and purposes a passenger for the remainder of the game. With Bury in fine form it would have been difficult enough for the away side with eleven men, but with just the ten the task was always going to be too great.

Bury pressed and Ross thought he had opened the scoring only to be denied by a great Foulke save. Sagar was then able to weave his way past the Sheffield defence only to face the formidable frame of Foulke who dived down on the ball. The away side required desperate defending, and there was relief when McLuckie’s shot beat Foulke but landed in the great crowd behind the goal.

As half time approached Sheffield were able to mount there first serious attempt on the Bury goal, but Priest fashioning on to a Beers shot missed badly when left with only Thompson to beat. When the referee’s whistle thus sounded the score at half time was goalless.

At the start of the second period the away side were further handicapped when a strong sun came out direct into their eyes. Needham blocked Sagar’s shot, two corners were scrambled clear and Davidson had his powerful free-kick blocked by the powerful hands of Foulke, the ball rocketing back to the half way line. The Sheffield keeper was by now being wildly cheered by the Bury faithful as for the next few minutes it was more a case of eleven on to one - admittedly it was a big one! Amazingly the keeper then almost helped his side take the lead - thumping a goal kick into the Bury half where Almond flicked it over his head and turned to see the ball touched round the post by Thompson.

Ross, Leeming and Sagar reasserted Bury’s superiority with shots that Foulke beat away. The question was - could anyone beat him? When they did Boyle kicked clear a shot from the goal line. Richards shot just wide before, at last, the great man was beaten when Wood and Richards combined down the Bury right and Richards opened the scoring amidst tremendous enthusiasm. With Needham needing treatment Sheffield were reduced to ten men, one of whom was injured and the game would have been all over if Leeming’s shot had been inches lower, the ball crashing back off the crossbar.

Foulke denied plant, but the keeper had no chance when Wood dashing down the left found Plant who headed the ball home. Although there was still quarter of an hour to go Sheffield were well beaten and their defeat would have been even heavier if Foulke hadn’t continued to play brilliantly right up to the final whistle. The keeper had been the man of the match but his side had lost 2-0 and the folk of Bury had double reason to celebrate one of its most famous days.

Take from ALL SHOOK UP - Bury FC's amazing Cup story - FA Cup Winners 1900 and 1903, published by Empire Publications 

Bury beat Southampton 4-0 in the 1900 FA Cup Final 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mark. Just had to say how much I enjoyed this article - the pre-game and game desciptions, and player profiles were great - interesting and easy to read. And all this thanks to Google Images - I had gone there for a photo of a designated house in Bamford, Rochdale, when the photo from the game caught my attention - and that brought me to your blog.
    Thanks, and all the best,
    Kevin, Toronto
    p.s.: I tried sending a comment on your blog, but could not get past the part asking me to type in distorted letters to prove I’m a person. I really am.