The Coatbridge Leader reported on the comments of other newspapers.
The Evening Times said ‘Albion Rovers were the better all-round team and worthy winners’.
The Bulletin agreed that ‘Rovers gained a great and well-merited victory’.
The Herald praised ‘the splendid play of the Rovers defenders’.
Luke Sharp in the Weekly Record said ‘we have been told that the Rovers were lucky to get the length of a second replay. To which my reply is that the Rangers were lucky not to be defeated at the the first meeting’.
10/04/1920, the Coatbridge Leader’s headlines trumpeted in bold capital letters ‘SCOTTISH CUP FINALISTS.’ and in slightly smaller capital letters ‘ALBION ROVERS WHACK RANGERS.’ The way they reported the match, it seems the Coatbridge Leader and the Scotsman were at different games.
Rovers won the toss, Rangers were playing against the breeze. Fifteen minutes in Rovers won a corner. The corner was almost cleared ‘when the ball was swung into goal from the right’ Manderson secured it all right, ‘but before he could get it away Hillhouse bustled him off the leather and placed it safely in the corner of the net’. Rovers were one up and were on top ‘they cut through the Ibrox defence like a knife through cheese’. (Some of the 1920 football reporting phraseology is a bit strange to a 2020 ear.)
Lock dealt with many shots before ‘Duncan had a beautiful run and slipped the ball to Watson. Guy promptly caught on and put in a clever piece of work, which he crowned by driving the sphere right between the posts, well out of the reach of the keeper’. Rangers came more into the game and were shooting more often but Penman and Bell ‘were quite equal to all the calls made on them’ although Henderson should have done better when Ford took the ball off him in good position. Then the ball ‘cannoned off the crossbar from a header by Cairns’ while a Muirhead shot went narrowly past the upright. Half time arrived ‘with the Rangers pressing, but the Albion leading by 2-0’.
The game resumed with White off winded but he did return. Rangers were pressing but ‘they could make nothing of the defence of the Albion’. The game became a midfield stalemate for a time then Rangers re-arranged their attack but ‘still the Rovers’ defenders continued to keep things well in hand’ until Bowie was allowed in by a slip but he wasted his shot. Rovers were now hitting on the break. The Rangers defence got mixed up and ‘Watson was sailing through when he was brought down in the penalty area’ by Gordon. No penalty!
Ribchester, White and Duncan all fired in long range shots but ten minutes from time, a penalty was awarded to Rangers when Cairns was tripped in the penalty area by Bell. Gordon took the penalty but Shortt saved the day. Rangers effort fizzled out after that, Rovers were through to the Scottish Cup Final.
A 2-0 triumph for the bottom of the league team against the team top of the league!
Across the three semi-finals 137,000 people had watched Rovers and Rangers (32,000 + 40,000 + 65,000). The actual figures could be higher, or lower, as attendances reported in newspapers come across as estimates, when you read the Coatbridge Express and the Coatbridge Leader they seldom agree on attendances.
The Coatbridge Leader waxed lyrical about the victory. ‘The Rovers have fairly made a stir in the football world this week…..they whacked the famous Light Blues properly in the semi-final of the national trophy.’ ‘There were scenes of great enthusiasm at the finish. The players could hardly reach the pavilion’ with Joe Shortt mobbed on the field which implies a field invasion, tut, tut.
When news got back to Coatbridge there was ‘wild rejoicing in the burgh’. ‘The scene of enthusiasm at the Fountain was reminiscent of the King’s visit’. ‘The climax of the uproar was reached’ when the busses and cars returned with the ‘enthusiasts’ (supporters) from Parkhead. ‘One man in his excitement put his head through the glass window of an omnibus’. There was further excitement when the team got back, the crowd wanted ‘to carry the players shoulder high’ but three of the players took refuge in the fire station while ‘others, perhaps wiser, dropped off before they came near the Cross’.
‘At the Cinema, when Mr Manson showed the result on his screen the audience rose en masse and cheered for all they were worth’.
The Council of the Scottish Football Association had met on the Tuesday before the semi and they decided that the Scottish Cup Final should be played at Hampden Park on Saturday 17 April. (The Scottish Cup Final was not an end of season show piece until 1970, oddly enough the 2020 Cup Final was to be played before the end of the league season due to the Euro championship matches that, pre-virus, were to be played at Hampden.)
The League had arranged that on that particular Saturday, 17 April, Rangers would have a blank day while Rovers were to play Third Lanark in the league.
The Coatbridge Leader could hardly contain their glee that the assumption of a win for Rangers had been so common place while the actual semi result had thrown all the arrangements into turmoil, ‘”Never count your chickens before they are hatched” should be the League secretary’s motto in future’.
There was to be no let up from the league games with no special consideration given to the Coatbridge Cup Finalists. Rovers were to play at Clyde on the Saturday, play Celtic in Coatbridge on the Wednesday and then play Kilmarnock on the Saturday, 17 April, at Hampden in the Scottish Cup Final.
Rovers team at Clyde on Saturday, 10/04/1920, was – Shortt; Keirnan and Bell; Wallace, Duncan, and Black; Ribchester, Ja White, White, Watson, and Hillhouse.
Hillhouse and Ribchester combined for John White to put Rovers into the lead but Clyde equalised when Thompson scored from Quinn’s pass. Clyde had an undeserved 1-1 draw at half time, Rovers forwards were described as profligate.
Second half Quinn hit the Rovers bar. The Coatbridge Leader complained that ‘Clyde…..swept everything before them – man and ball’. Wallace had to leave the field, not returning, while Duncan had to go off to be looked at by the trainer but did return while Ribchester and Bell were also concerns.
Half an hour in John White scored a second goal with a long range header but two minutes later Thompson equalised from the penalty spot after Quinn was tripped for a 2-2 draw and share of the points.
‘Some of the Rovers brake clubs had rather a rough time of it when coming home from Shawfield’. Bottles and other missiles were thrown at the Rovers supporters.
For the visit of Celtic to Cliftonhill on 14/04/1920, Rovers team – Shortt; Penman, and Kiernan; Wilson, Melville, and Ford; Hart and Ja White; Black; Watson, and Young.
Rovers played a weakened side with a view to the Cup final, while Celtic fielded their strongest side.
Rovers had a day to forget with Melville short with a first minute pass back and McInally put the visitors ahead and then Shortt was at fault from a Gallacher header, McStay added a third before half time. It was 5-0 by the finish with McInally and McLean adding two more.
A 5-0 drubbing and an injury pile up was not the best preparation for the Scottish Cup Final. But hope springs eternal, twelve trains would be taking supporters from Coatbridge to Glasgow for the 3.30pm kick off against Kilmarnock with W. Bell of Hamilton the man in black.
There were worries in some quarters about a possible low attendance at the Scottish Cup Final which at this time was not the end of season show game that it is now. There was to be a full league programme on 17 April as well the Cup Final.
The actual last league game of the season was scheduled for 01/05/1920, Rovers had fallen behind on fixtures and had to play their last league match after the end of the season on 08/05/20.
An advert in the Coatbridge Leader stated that the Scottish Cup Final ‘will be fimed on our behalf and screened at the Cinema on Monday for 3 days.’ I Asked the Scottish Football Museum if they might have a copy of the film, unfortunately they have nothing as far back as that. They did have a look at the British Pathe, Movietone and the Scottish Screen web sites but could not find the film.
They also pointed out that the film would now be one hundred years old, so the film may not have survived.
Anybody have any old film reels in their loft gathering dust? Get in touch.
Cup Final player summaries (from the Weekly Record as re-printed in the Coatbridge Leader) are listed as below.
The team listed below for Kilmarnock is as played at the Final. The Rovers listing, strangely given it is in a Coatbridge newspaper, contains only nine players, one of whom I removed as he did not actually play on the day.
From the partial information below, on average the Rovers were just a little taller, less than an inch, than Killie, while they were just a little heavier than Rovers, less than three pounds, so no real advantage to either side.
Albion Rovers (in Word these tables came over as nicely spaced out but not when transferred onto here.) Position Forename Surname Feet inches Stones Pounds 1 Goalkeeper J Shortt 5 9 11 7 2 Right back R Penman 5 10 12 0 3 Left Back J Bell 5 8 11 2 6 Left Half A Ford 5 9 10 12 7 Outside Right W Ribchester 5 6 10 0 8 Inside Right J Black 5 10 12 0 9 Centre Forward John White 5 9.5 11 7 10 Inside Left Guy Watson 5 8 11 7
Kilmarnock Position Forename Surname Feet inches Stones pounds 1 Goalkeeper Thomas Blair 5 11.5 12 0 2 Right Back Thomas Hamilton 5 10 12 7.5 3 Left Back David Gibson 5 8 12 7 4 Right Half John Bagan 5 6 10 0 5 Centre Half Matthew Shortt 5 8.5 10 8 6 Left Half Robert Neave 5 6 11 5 7 Outside Right John McNaught 5 8 10 6 8 Inside Right Matthew Smith 5 6 10 7 9 Centre Forward John R Smith 5 8 11 4 10 Inside Left William Culley 5 8 11 8 11 Outside Left Malcolm McPhail 5 8 11 0
There is not one player over 6 feet, the Killie goalie (Blair) is half an inch off it. Three Killie players (Bagan, Neave, M. Smith) and one Rover (Ribchester) are 5 feet 6 inches. Killie’s tallest player, other than the goalie, was their right back (Hamilton) at 5 feet 10 inches while Rovers have two players listed at 5 feet 10 inches at right back and inside right (Penman, Black).
Penman and Black are listed at 12 stones, the Rovers heaviest players, while Ribchester is listed at 10 stones so is the Rovers light weight. Killie’s lightest player at 10 stones is Bagan, and the two heavies at 12 stones 7 pounds ish at right and left back are Hamilton and Gibson.
I read the descriptions of the players along with the heights and weights but it did not really register how small and light they were, compared to now, until I wrote up the information in the tables above. A century of better nutrition has made todays players bigger and heavier, and more scientific training methods and weight training help as well.
Records of the two sides in getting to the Scottish Cup Final Kilmarnock Round 1 Bye Round 2 Alloa Athletic (a) 2-0 Round 3 Queen’s Park (h) 4-1 Round 4 Armadale (a) 2-1 Semi-Final Morton 3-2 neutral ground Hampden 11-4
Rovers Scottish Qualifying Cup (League 1 sides got into the Scottish Cup first round proper but Rovers and Clydebank joined League 1 so late, that the two sides had to play in the season's SQC. Clydebank went out in the SQC. By reaching the SQC Round 5, Rovers qualified for the Scottish Cup first round proper and scratched (withdrew) in favour of Royal Albert.) SQC Round 1 Paisley Grammar FP (h) 3-0 (3-1 in Robin's book) SQC Round 2 Renton (a) 0-0 replay Renton (h) 2-0 SQC Round 3, SQC Round 4 byes SQC Round 5 Royal Albert walk over, Rovers scratched
Killie took 4 matches to get to the Cup Final, and got the benefit of a Bye.
Rovers, including SQC matches, took 11 matches to get to the Cup Final, and got the benefit of two Byes and a walk over, and scratched once themselves. There were 5 draws along the way.
In the second replay against Rangers, right back Penman and right half Noble were both injured. Centre forward John White had gone off winded at half time but did return to the field later in the second half.
In the Clyde match, ‘Clyde…..swept everything before them – man and ball’ which is supported by the injury count. Left back Bell was an injury concern. In the second half, right half Joe Wallace was badly enough injured that he went off and did not return after being looked at by the trainer. Centre Half Duncan also had to go off as well to be tended to by the trainer, but he did return to the field. Right winger Ribchester was said to be recovering in Dunoon from his treatment by the Clyde defenders.
Dependent on recovery, or the lack of, from injury, Rovers could end up with an almost un-recognisable side from what might be viewed as their strongest side such as the teams that played against Rangers in the three semi-finals.
Post by charlestheoptimist on Apr 16, 2020 16:41:00 GMT
This has been a fascinating thread that gives a great insight into an exciting time for the club, that you cannot usually find in most football reference books. Such a contrast to how we will be reporting this period 100 years from now !
Please get me the no. for forums anonymous!
This has been a fascinating thread that gives a great insight into an exciting time for the club, that you cannot usually find in most football reference books. Such a contrast to how we will be reporting this period 100 years from now !
Agree. Nanook has brought our hundred year old cup run to life.
17/04/1920 Kilmarnock v Albion Rovers Hampden Park Kick off 3.30pm Referee W. Bell, Hamilton
How to get there?
5 trains would be running from Coatbridge Caledonian Station to Central Low Level, a relief train from Whifflet would also run through the station to Central Low Level.
3 trains would be running from Coatbridge Caledonian Station to Buchanan Street in Glasgow.
There were so many rail lines at the time that supporters going to the match could use both platforms at Coatbridge Caledonian Station (Coatbridge Central), the Central Low Level passengers going southwards and Buchanan Street passengers going north.
3 trains would run from Airdrie collecting further passengers at Sunnyside.
Another means of transport was by tramcar. Glasgow Corporation tramcars offered low fares compared to train tickets, and ran from the Monklands in the east to Paisley in the west.
Teams in Cup run semi v Rangers Shortt; Penman and Bell; Noble, Duncan, Ford; Ribchester, Black, White, Watson, and Young. 1st replay v Rangers Shortt; Penman and Bell; Noble, Duncan, Ford; Ribchester, Black, White, Watson, and Young. 2nd replay v Rangers Shortt; Penman and Bell; Wallace, Duncan, Ford; Ribchester, Black, White, Watson, and Hillhouse.
final v Kilmarnock Shortt; Penman and Bell; Wilson, Black, and Ford; Ribchester, James White, John White, Watson, and Hillhouse.
Injuries had cleared for the two full backs; Penman and Bell would be in place. Ribchester and John White had recovered and would play.
Rovers had lost two right halves; Noble would be a loss, he had been praised in many matches, Joe Wallace had not recovered from his injury in the Clyde match. Centre Half Duncan would, probably, be the biggest loss of all, a steady, defensive player.
Rovers had to make several changes. Wilson would be right half having played in the match against Celtic. Inside right Black switched to centre half, quite a change of position, although he did play at right half against Aberdeen, left half against Clyde but was back in the front line at centre against Celtic. It would seem that Melville was ranked as too big a risk for the Cup Final. He played at right half against Hearts, and centre half against Aberdeen and Celtic. On the Wednesday before the Cup Final Melville’s early error would have been fresh in the mind, setting Rovers up for a 5-0 drubbing, and counted against him.
Who would take Black’s place in the forward line?
The rather surprising answer was that James White, John White’s brother, would take the number 8 shirt in the final. Four weeks before, James White had been playing for Bedlay Juniors but had since played in 4 League matches; Hearts, Aberdeen, Clyde and Celtic in his brief spell at the Rovers. He must have made a big impression in that short period.
And if you could not get to the game, apart from the film in the Cinema, there was an advert in the Coatbridge Leader from the Public Hall Picture House stating ‘See the Special Football Film, Kilmarnock v Albion Rovers, all this week’. It is unclear if this is the same film as the Cinema or a different one.
Major coverage of the Scottish Cup Final in the Sunday Post. I will quote reporter Andy Aitken’s first paragraph to show that Rovers could hold their heads high after a hard match.
(Andy Aitken was a wing half who had a long career in English football playing mainly for Newcastle, an 11 year career there, and shorter spells at Middlesborough, Leicester City, Dundee and Kilmarnock. He gained 14 caps for Scotland, 1901-11, when the only internationals were the Home Championship.)
‘Albion Rovers, that surprise packet of Scottish football this season, gave Kilmarnock a hard run for the Scottish cup at Hampden park yesterday. They lost by the odd goal in five, and, whilst I credit right away the Ayrshire team with a deserved victory, yet I believe that if the Coatbridge club had not been compelled to reshuffle their side owing to injuries – in their forward line they played a laddie who was in junior football three weeks ago – there might have been a replay of the Scottish Cup final this week. And you know – and the Rangers know very well, too, eh? – that the Rovers are inclined to be in their element in replays!’
Andy said the match was ‘a really sporting final’ even ‘if consistently good football was absent’ but the crowd ‘saw a strenuously fought game’.
The referee had a bad day, there were three penalty decisions, none given, which drew criticism, and a mistake cost Rovers an equaliser.
James White and Ribchester combined ‘with some first-time work’ to cross for Guy Watson who was unmarked as right back Hamilton misjudged the cross for Guy to score the opening goal, Rovers were ahead. Left back Bell, in the Rovers penalty area, handled the ball, the only doubt being whether the handling was intentional or not.
The ref blew offside against Watson which Aitken said was a mistake as ‘there were at least four players in front of him. At this point, offside was three players rather two as now. From the resultant free kick, Kilmarnock equalised through inside left Culley. Killie had the better of the rest of the half but could not get ahead.
‘My impression of the first half was that both teams had been somewhat overawed by the importance of the occasion…..On the whole, the level score was a fair reflex of a very moderate display of football.’ HT 1-1.
Centre half Shortt charged through Rovers defence to score Killie’s second. Aitken was impressed by ‘a class defender, and his play had a lot to do with Kilmarnock’s victory’. Almost immediately, Killie right back Hamilton tackled Watson who ’was brought down rather heavily in the penalty area…..the Ayrshire side were a shade lucky in escaping trouble’. Killie’s luck held up again when their captain and goalie Blair saved with his foot from Watson from close range.
Rovers confidence was boosted when Hillhouse latched on to a long cross to equalise. J R Smith, the Killie centre forward, ‘was frequently threatening danger’, at one point a bad foul by Penman knocked the player out. When Smith ‘did get going at any time he was a source of great worry to the opposing defence’. What turned out to be the ‘winning goal was was extremely well manoeuvred for, and equally well taken’.
‘The Rovers chance for the Cup did not seem altogether doomed…..Blair was called upon several times towards the end, but gradually the Rovers lost sting…..that as the end was in sight Kilmarnock looked like increasing their lead’.
‘Practically on the last kick of the match J. R. Smith was brought down by the Rovers right half (Wilson) in the penalty area when he was practically a certain scorer..…But there was no penalty kick given…..a second later the whistle heralded that Kilmarnock had for the first time in their history won the Scottish Cup.’
Kilmarnock – Blair: Hamilton and Gibson; Bagan, Shortt, and Neave; McNaught, M. Smith, J. R. Smith, Culley, and McPhail.
Rovers – Short(t)*; Penman and Bell; Wilson, Black, and Ford; Ribcheser, James White, John White, Watson, and Hillhouse.
*(Shortt Rovers goalie is listed above with one t, but is usually listed with two, does beg the question was there any family connection to the Killie centre half?)
Secretary of Albion Rovers was quoted saying, ‘If Duncan had been in his place at centre-half, something different might have happened. He was missed. Kilmarnock had the better of the game. Rovers played below the form that defeated Rangers’.
In Aitken’s summary of the Rovers players, he was quite generous, and perceptive.
Rovers goalie Shortt was ‘powerless against the shots that went past him’. Black having to move into defence ‘was a pity…..though he did very well at centre half’. ‘Watson….is a neat type of forward, and gave the defence a good deal of trouble’. ‘James White, the junior…..did as well as could be expected…..but it was rather too big an occasion for him.’ And an overall summary was ‘all things considered, the babes of the league put up a good show – they are a well-built lot, fairly strong, and can play nice football at times’.
‘The weather was gloriously fine’, just about the last positive comment in the report, ‘both sides were unnerved by the importance of the occasion’.
‘Kimarnock played a short, sharp passing game, but did not do it over well, whereas Albion Rovers swung the ball about, but were not fast enough to get the opposing defence into trouble.’
Ribchester’s clever cross set up Watson to score, Culley equalised and the game swung from end to end till half time.
Second half was barely started when ‘the Rovers pulled up to claim off-side, only for Shortt to put Killie ahead. Another Ribchester cross saw Hillhouse equalise. ‘The game was its best about this time, and the football was quite good, but once J. R. Smith had scored for Kilmarnock it was a case of playing out time.’
‘The Rovers were the more aggressive side during the opening minutes of what proved a fast and keenly contested match.’ The Herald suggested that it was a Wilson pass that Hillhouse scored from for 2-2, and that ‘ towards the close Albion Rovers made a good but futile effort to draw level’.
‘If centre half-back be considered the most vital position in a team, Albion Rovers were at a great disadvantage in having Duncan injured’ also with a recent junior taking the field while ‘Kilmarnock, on the other hand, were at full strength…..but it was the greater experience of their forwards that gave them a winning advantage’. ‘The losers were seen to advantage only at goal and at full-back’, the Herald felt that Black moving from Rovers forward line to the defence had weakened the forward line and the half back line.
The Herald has a pop at the SFA for treating ‘the National Cup Final as of less importance than an every-day First league club match’ as ‘they fixed the prices of admission on the basis that gave the meeting of Kilmarnock and Albion Rovers a parochial aspect’. It is sometimes hard to work out what the journalese of that time means, but I think what the writer is saying is that the entrance fee was cheaper than the league matches.
They also criticise the SFA for ‘arrangements made for marshalling the crowd suggested an official estimate of 50,000 as the high-water mark of the attendance at Hampden Park’. The Herald wondered why they had not considered that ‘a competition that has lapsed for five seasons gains compound interest on its revival’ and had they not noted the recent enormous attendances which ‘merely reflect the pent-up enthusiasm dammed by nearly five years of bitter warfare’. Among examples quoted are the Rovers 2nd semi crowd of 65,000 for ‘an evening game’, a record.
‘It came as a revelation to find over 100,000 intending spectators seeking admission to Hampden’ which implies that 5,000 folk were locked out when the gates were closed.