Thursday, 19 April 2012

1912 FA Cup Final on April 20th 1912

Taken from Lifting the Cup - the story of Battling Barnsley 1910-1912 by David Wood and Mark Metcalf 

1912 Final
Saturday April 20th

Barnsley 0
 WBA 0
 At the Crystal Palace

How two well matched teams failed to score

By centre-forward

Although very disappointing in the respect that it was attended by no definite result the game between Barnsley and West Bromwich Albion was a better final tie than most of those which we have seen of recent years. The one thing needful to make it an interesting contest was some scoring. In the absence of even one goal the spectators who watched a strenuous winter game played in the genial warmth of summer were somewhat languid. They waited for thrills, and experienced none. I am convinced that the scoring of a goal by either side would have awakened the onlookers to enthusiasm. It was remarkably impartial crowd that gathered in somewhat smaller numbers than usual on the classic slopes of Sydenham. Barnsley followers, of course, were present and the Albion admirers with a shorter train journey to make were there in greater force but the bulk of the crowd was a metropolitan assemblage. Goals are the essence of football and the crowd would not have minded a drawn game if both sides had each scored twice or even three times. As it was they went away disappointed. Rarely if ever have I seen a football crowd at so important an event less excited. As for enthusiasm there was none.

Forwards Failure

Yet small was the fault of the players. Both teams tried hard enough to score, and the game was greater in pace and power, more prolific of swift exchanges then many English Cup Finals I have seen. As a matter of fact each side had a defence so skilful and resolute that it dominated the opposing attack. Moreover on the rare occasions when the backs were beaten the forwards of either side, possibly from over excitement failed to seize their chances, though each goal had more than one remarkably narrow escape. It was not a game wherein the goalkeepers were greatly troubled with; the advancing forwards were so often rendered powerless before they got to shooting range. When this was not the case their shots had little sting or accuracy about them, and neither custodian throughout the entire contest was called upon to stop a shot which he could have been pardoned for missing.

Albion’s early attack

For the first twenty minutes or so the West Bromwich men were decidedly the smarter team, but their forwards, among whom Shearman was a conspicuous figure on the extreme left wing, failed to take advantage of an unsteady start by the Barnsley defence, who in the early stages were not in their true form, Downs being the shadow of his real self, and Taylor early on making a miss kick which might easily have let the Albion forwards through. Barnsley had their share of ill luck later in the game, but during this opening period they enjoyed some good luck, notably, when a furious drive by Pailor, which was going straight for the mark struck Downs in the chest, and again when in dealing with another fierce straight drive by Baddeley from half back, Cooper, who darted forward to take the ball allowed it to slip from his hands, happily however for the Yorkshireman the keeper was able to recover before an Albion forward could reach him. Cooper’s nerve, however, was not broken by this early interchange and a little later he was quite himself in smartly saving a dangerous header from Baddeley following a corner kick and then a pretty oblique shot from Jephcott.

Fortunate and successful opposition to the pressure of their foes made an occasional Barnsley attack flash past the Albion halves but they usually met their masters in Pennington and Cook.  Then the Yorkshire attack improved and we saw some of the dash and speed that usually characterise the movements of the front rank. Bartrop was a conspicuous figure on the extreme right, and following the centre from him, Lillycrop from close quarters headed in, only to find Pearson quite safe as indeed the Albion custodian was throughout the struggle.

Nevertheless, the attacks of the Oakwell brigade were not equal to great defence of Pennington and Cook, who were admirable in their judgement and tackled skillfully and though Bartrop fired in a good long shot it was not good enough to beat Pearson.

To Barnsley’s increased dash the ‘Throstles’ responded gamely, and during the last few minutes of the first half, thanks in great measure to the sprightliness of their left winger, Shearman, they gave the Yorkshire defence a lively time. But Downs and Taylor had recovered from their early unsteadiness and, well assisted by the halves, gallantly held their own to the arrival of the interval.

 Smart exchanges

After a change of ends we saw more of Barnsley as we had seen them against Bradford City at Bramall Lane. The vigour and speed of their forwards was wonderfully improved, and for the remainder of the match they were quite the equals of West Bromwich at all points. But the Albion continued to play smart football all round and the result was that we saw well-matched teams fighting for all they were worth in order to score, but fighting in vain. Swift and even were the exchanges, but Taylor at one end and Pennington at the other were like lions in the path of the eager forwards. Once, after a splendid sprint by Jephcott, the ball was sent to Shearman, who was given a good opening, only to shoot the ball against the side net. It was a really a fine chance of scoring which thus came to the Albion left-winger, but he was rather slow in working for a good position, and by the time he shot Cooper had rushed across to reduce his room for shooting, and might possibly have saved even had the shot been on the mark.

An Exciting Episode

Barnsley were now more dangerous near goal than they had been, but still Pearson was equal to the work given him to do by Moore and Lillycrop. The Yorkshiremen following a centre by Moore made one desperate attack in the best dashing style and were certainly very unlucky not to score. In rapid succession four shots were driven in fiercely, to be intercepted in their flight, and it was certainly ‘hard lines’ for the Yorkshiremen to see one by Glendenning rebound from Pennington right in front and another by Tufnell strike the upright. This was the most exciting episode of the match, and the excitement rose as suddenly Shearman came sweeping away on the Albion left threatening danger to the Barnsley goal. He finished with a fine centre, but the inside men were not well up to seize it, and Cooper dashing out cleared before they came upon the scene. That one daring dash and fierce fusillade, wherein the Albion citadel escaped by sheer good fortune stands out as a prominent incident in the many fierce exchanges of a hotly contested second half.

Narrow escape

As the game went on the rivals continued to struggle gamely for a goal whereby to carry home the cup. Such was the character of the play that onlookers felt that one goal would be quite sufficient to settle the issue. Although tiring somewhat as the end drew near neither of the players ceased to strive and hope. Barnsley remembered their sensational finish at Bramall Lane and Albion that at Owlerton. In the last minutes each goal had more than one narrow escape, and each side had a corner, for the play continued to surge from end to end in a way that kept spectators hopeful that even yet one side or the other might score. Once Pearson kicked away a shot from Lillycrop and then right on time when Shearman sprinted away and centred Pailor came sailing in as he had done when he got the goal which beat the Rovers in the semi-final, but this time the Albion centre flashed the ball just outside instead of inside the post, and the Barnsley goal escaped. Then came the sound of the final whistle.

 Barnsley won the toss to select the choice of ground for the replay and picked Bramall Lane

Barnsley: Cooper, Taylor, Downs, Glendenning, Bratley, Utley, Bartrop, Tufnell, Lillycrop, Travers, Moore

WBA: Pearson, Cook, Pennington, Baddeley, Buck, McNeal, Jephcott, Wright, Pailor, Bowser, Shearman

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