So, Rovers almost heroes could put their feet up and have a few beers, well.....actually NO! Look at this fixtures to follow Saturday's Cup Final.
Monday 19/04/1920 ARFC v Morton Wednesday 21/04/20 Queen's Park v ARFC Saturday 24/04/20 ARFC v Airdrieonians Monday 26/04/20 ARFC v Raith Rovers Wednesday 28/04/20 ARFC v Hamilton Accies Friday 30/04/20 ARFC v Hamilton Accies, Lanarkshire Cup Final at Motherwell Saturday 01/05/20 ARFC v Kilmarnock Wednesday 05/05/20 ARFC v Third Lanark
Someone please check, I make that 8 games in 13 days.
Rovers v Morton, Monday match, as covered in the Coatbridge Express, will deal with their Cup Final coverage tomorrow.
Rovers took the lead early when Ford’s shot spun under the bar off the keeper’s hands. Ribchester and Hillhouse on either wing were firing in good crosses with Rovers on top. The game became more even and left winger Seymour equalised. ‘That was responded to instantly for Ribchester again got in a fine centre and before Edwards could clear he and the ball were bundled into the net.’ Goalkeepers had to get rid of the ball quickly or else. Morton came back into the match and there was a blatant penalty when Melville brought French down. Seymour made it 2-2 from the spot. Stevenson with a good shot made it 2-3 for Morton at half time.
The second half ‘saw a stern fight’ but late on ‘Shortt failed to hold a stinging low shot from McNab and Seymour walked into the net for the last goal’ and his hat trick. The reporter is really harsh on the players saying ‘the Rovers were not the team of their cup ties’, and then goes on to list various failings, no sympathy for players being asked to play again so soon after the final.
Rovers – Shortt; Penman and Kiernan; Wilson, Melville and Ford; Ribchester, Black, White, Watson and Hillhouse.
Coatbridge Express (21/04/20), report on cup final
The Final is reported under a headline of ‘Bad Luck at The Last’.
‘The Cliftonhill babies set the country on fire by a great win of 2-0 in front of a record crowd for a Scotch evening match.’
The reason for this is that ‘Rovers have been somewhat broken’ and it is ‘the loss of Noble since the Second Rangers game was bad enough, but to lose Duncan for the final was like snapping the spinal cord…..Davie has been a great tower of strength to the Rovers’.
‘Black certainly filled the position well as did also White, but the changes had the tendency to knock the regular machinery out of gear a bit’.
Early on, Guy Watson slashed the ball past Blair. ‘It was a beautifully taken goal, and the Coatbridge gong, a huge metal plate inscribed “The Death Knell” carried by a band of youths was heard amidst terrific cheering’. ‘Killie replied in vigorous fashion and fairly bombarded the Rovers charge’ and ‘Cully (Culley) shot hard and true and Shortt had no chance with a ball that went into the net like greased lightening’. HT 1-1
J. R. Smith ‘outwitted the Rovers defence and Mathew Shortt (half-back) catching up a weak clearance by Penman, banged into the net’ while Rovers claimed off side. Ribchester lobbed to ‘Wilson who pushed to the left. There was a race between Hamilton and Hillhouse for the ball, and the latter with a a very smart movement got into position and equalised with a great shot. The outburst of cheering might have been heard at Coatbridge and Hillhouse himself was so overjoyed that he danced a few steps of a hornpipe’. It could have got better, ‘a minute or so later John White experienced the hardest of luck in not securing the leading goal’.
Unfortunately, ‘Culley pushed his way well through and passed to J. R. Smith who gave Kilmarnock the lead with an unsavable shot’. It became ‘a ding dong game to the last with Killie slightly the superior side’.
‘The Rovers died hard, and a draw would not have caused Kilmarnock to grumble’.
Bell, Ford, Watson and Hillhouse were praised for their contributions.
The Coatbridge Leader said Queen’s Park ‘won the toss and played with wind and sun at their backs. This was a big advantage as the game proceeded, for Fyfe was enabled to drive a high ball goal wards which landed in the net simply because the goalkeeper was blinded by the sun’. Queens were on top ‘so that there was precious little room for surprise when Niven chalked up number two’. Kiernan started pushing the Rovers forward, Ribchester ‘had a try at Hunter’ (in goal), before Young ‘tried to walk the ball into the net’ instead of passing then Ribchester ‘banged the ball home’. HT 2-1. ‘In the second half the Rovers were seen to better advantage and pressed continuously’ but chances were thrown away and the game fizzled out for a home 2-1 win.
Rovers - Rooney; Penman and Bell; Sankey, Kiernan, and Ford; Ribchester, Ja White, Hart, Gray, and Young.
The Coatbridge Leader suggested Rovers ‘at Hampden they should have “scooped” the pool, but bad finishing lost them the points’, but they were pleased with ‘the only discovery of the game was Kiernan. He should make a good centre-half’.
Young (James) White sent Ribchester clear to cross for Watson for the first goal in 5 minutes. Ribchester was leading the fight to Killie at this stage. Shortt in Rovers goal made ‘a grand double save from J. R. Smith’. Watson was given ‘offside with four or five defenders in front of him, and from the free kick Culley scored for Kilmarnock. It was hard lines on Rovers thus losing a goal owing to the referee’s undoubted mistake’. Black was criticised for ‘failing to watch his man and throwing double work on the full-backs’ but the defence held on before ‘James White stirred things up a bit with a lightning drive, which almost caught Blair napping’ then a Black shot went narrowly past. HT 1-1.
Second half ‘Kilmarnock forwards went off with great dash, and within four minutes they were in the lead. Shortt allowing his namesake to walk the ball into the net while he was claiming for offside’. Rovers were under the cosh for a time with Shortt making a save from J. R. Smith and getting injured in the provess. Rovers came back into the match with Wilson receiving a throw in and sending over a cross which Hillhouse shot past Blair for 2-2. Two minutes later Killie were lucky when a ‘regular daisy cutter’ from John White was stopped by Blair. Later, McPhail shot over the Rover bar from close range. Twenty five minutes from time J. R. Smith broke clear and shot high into the net. ‘In the closing stages the Rovers fought an uphill battle. With a little bit of luck they might have equalised’ but it was not to be.
The Cup presentation was made in the reading room of the Queen’s Park pavilion. Officials of both clubs and the SFA made nice speeches and then the Cup was handed over. No players were involved, no medals, it seems were presented on the day.
The comments in the Notes section were pretty brutal, bemoaning the loss of Duncan and Noble, ‘Black made a poor substitute, while Wilson, although working hard, was no good at feeding the forwards’. The other papers all agreed that Duncan was a loss but had been kinder to Black.
Airdrie were due at Cliftonhill today along with another four matches in an eight day period.
There was some good news in that brothers James and John White had signed up for next season.
Airdrie had won their home match against Rovers 2-1, ‘on a snow clad Broomfield on the first day of the year’. The high wind proved to be a problem for the player. ‘The attendance reached over 11,000’.
Rovers – Shortt; Penman and Kiernan; Wilson, Duncan and Ford; Ribchester, Black, White, Watson and Hillhouse.
Airdrieonians – Fotheringham; MacDonald and Watson; Neil, Knox and Hart; Turner, Aird, J. Reid, Donaldson and Alex. Reid.
Turner fired in an early shot which was the best of the match ‘but Shortt made a magnificent save’. ‘A. Reid beat Penman on the goal line and slid the ball into the centre, when James Reid…..simply nipped up the first goal’. Rovers were ruffled and ‘they had distinctly the best of the game up till half-time’. Fotherinhgam saved from White then White’s shot hit the bar on the way over, ‘but the narrowest escape at that end was when Hillhouse accepted the ball from the right and first-timed a volley shot…..Fotheringham handled the leather and turned it past the far post’. ‘Airdrie kept their lead till change of ends, but it was precarious and on the run of the game the Rovers did not deserve to be down when the sides crossed over’. HT 0-1.
White really should have put Rovers level, Fotheringham lost the ball leaving White with an open goal but the ball scudded past the post. The ‘Airdrie defence was strained looking after Hillhouse and Ribchester’. A. Reid shot narrowly past, ‘and a few minutes later a flag-kick by the same player swirled into the net without the necessary touch from a second player’, so no goal. Airdrie were now on top, their forwards were playing well, even with an unfit Turner, however it was a surprise when a Donaldson header forced the ball home after a scramble from a corner kick for a 2-0 away win.
‘The Rovers might as easily have won’. The reporter went through the various players saying he had ‘seen Ford to much better advantage…..He looked fagged’. No wonder the amount of football that he had played. He said it was unfair to compare the two centre forwards, Reid being an experienced international but White had two great chances. Both keepers were criticised, especially Fotheringham but Rovers forwards were not fast enough to take advantage.
Airdrie stayed in 6th place after their win, Rovers were in 22nd place, last, two points behind Hamilton Accies with Rovers two games in hand.
That was the Saturday, the Rovers players would be playing on the Monday, Raith Rovers visiting Cliftonhill.
A win against Raith in this Monday night match would take Rovers equal on points with Hamilton Accies.
The strong west wind from goal to goal made the conditions tricky again at Cliftonhill. Rovers had the wind at their back and had a lot of the ball but ‘there was little shooting of any account’. Former Airdrie goalie, Brown saved from a Watson shot while right back Inglis headed clear to stop the home side going ahead. ‘So far Shortt was little more than a spectator’. HT 0-0.
‘Second half largely favoured the Fifers’ Shortt making ‘a desperate save on his goal-line’, while Kiernan stopped Cant breaking through. Nera the end, the home Rovers hemmed Raith in as they ‘made a great bid for the points’. Watson and Ribchester were leading the Rovers charge ‘but apart from a rare shot by John White, and a rousing try by Duncan which rose over the bar’ there were to be no goals for a 0-0 finish.
Rovers – Shortt; Penman and Kiernan; Wilson, Duncan, and Black; Ribchester, Ja White, White, Watson and Young.
Rovers were in 22nd place, last, one point behind Hamilton Accies with Rovers a game in hand.
Accies would be visiting Cliftonhill on Wednesday on league business, so a four pointer for Rovers to try to avoid bottom spot.
3,000 turned out at Cliftonhill hoping for a repeat of Rovers 2-0 win at Accies earlier in the season. With only three league matches remaining a win for either side would help them avoid the wooden spoon.
Rovers – Shortt; Penman and Kiernan; Wilson; Melville, and Ford; Ribchester, Ja White, White, Blue, and Hillhouse.
Accies – White; Little and Abernethy; Nimmo, Hall and Johnston; Hanlon, Scanlon, Thornley, Murphy, and Hannah.
White hit an early shot off the Accies cross bar, then Ribchester shot past an empty goal. ‘Albion worked the leather better when they had it, and Hamilton’s citadel should have fallen on more than one occasion’. Blue, under pressure, took a cross from the right, ‘his feet were pulled from him , but somehow or other he managed to get the ball into the net’ for a Rovers lead. Not long after, all the good work was undone when ‘Murphy took advantage of a slackness on the the home defenders part and equalised. HT 1-1
‘Chances lost, as in the first portion, were painfully numerous, as when Ribchester again missed a glorious opportunity’ then young White took the ball off Melville’s toe just as he was going to shoot. Rovers Kiernan was limping heavily, and Accies Thornley had to go off for treatment. Towards the end there was an exchange of corner kicks but they came to nothing for a 1-1 finish.
The Coatbridge Leader suggested that the Rovers draws against Raith and Hamilton ‘should have resulted in full points for them if the forwards had taken their chances’. Against Raith ‘it was simply the Rovers versus Brown, the Kirkcaldy keeper’. Finally, some humanity towards the players ‘it is obviously a case of leg weary players being pressed beyond their powers. To expect them to get goals like fresh men would be unfair’ but with a waspish return to form, the reporter says it is difficult to find any excuse for some of the misses this week.
Two days hence, Rovers and Accies would meet again in Motherwell on Friday in the Lanarkshire Cup Final, Killie would visit Cliftonhill on Saturday before the final league match with Third Lanark, again at Coatbridge, on the Wednesday.
29/04/1920 - Coatbridge Express report of Lanarkshire Cup Final
In the early part of the season, Rovers had got to the final after beating Royal Albert 4-1 at home then beating Motherwell 1-0 again at home. This was Rovers seventh Lanarkshire Cup Final appearance.
Neutral venue – Motherwell
Rovers – Shortt; Penman and Bell; Wilson, Duncan, and Ford; Ribchester, Black, White, Watson, and Hillhouse.
Accies – White; Kerr and Little; Purdie, Hall and Johnstone; Hanlon, Scanlon, Thornley, Murphy, and Hannah.
It could be argued that Rovers put out a stronger side for the final rather than the league match two days before. Kiernan was probably an enforced change, he had been injured in the league match, and was replaced by Bell at left back. The unfortunate Melville was replaced by stalwart Duncan at centre half. At inside right, Black came in for young James White. Watson replaced Blue at inside left.
In comparison, Accies made two changes with Kerr in for Abernethy at back kick and Purdie for Nimmo at right half.
Another of John White’s brothers was in goals for Accies. Three of the brothers White had played In the league match two days before.
Rovers had the early play. White shot high over twice, then White, Accies keeper, made a good save from Duncan’s strong drive before an under pressure Accies player handled in the box. Ribchester shot home the penalty. ‘Five minutes later Hannah aimed for goal but the ball struck the upright and rebounded and Thornley, getting possession, equalised, although from the Press seat it looked as if he had handled before netting’. Accies took over for a time and ‘the Rovers defence was severely tested’. Approaching half time, the match was more even, Murphy should have done better for Accies than a feeble shot then Hillhouse shot over ’while in good position’. HT 1-1
The second half got under way and ‘for a long time it was the Rover forwards v the Acies defence’. Hillhouse went on a mazy run but from six yards chose to cross rather than shoot, John White was brought down when on a run, and then sent an overhead kick into the arms of his brother. At the other end, ‘with only Shortt to beat Murphy lifted over the bar’ then Hanlon headed past. ‘Then what a miss, when White slipped to Hillhouse but the latter with an open goal facing shot to the moon’. Several chances for Rovers went abegging with a late Black effort, after a Little missed clearance, saved by the keeper. FT 1-1
Into Extra Time, in the first minute White failed to capitalise on a Hillhouse pass. A well placed corner by Ribchester caused havoc in the Accies box as ‘the ball bobbed from player to player almost under the bar and how the Acies goal escaped was a caution’. Not much of note happened until Shortt failed to clear a shot and ‘Penman in a desperate attempt to clear with the ball under the bar, had the misfortune to rattle the upright and the leather re-bounded into the net’. The match finished 1-2, Accies won the cup in a match ‘in which the one side was as good as the other and neither very brilliant’.
In seven Lanarkshire Cup Finals Rovers had been the ‘Shire champions once in 1900 when Rovers beat Royal Albert 2-1.
With their back log of matches coming in all a rush, the last thing the Rovers needed was a match that went into extra time on the Friday night ahead of another league match on the Saturday.
Kilmarnock were to be the visitors. Chance for revenge for the Scottish Cup defeat, but with two games to play and one point behind Accies there was the chance to avoid last place. 10th placed Ayr United were to visit Hamilton for Accies last match of the season.
Newspaper reports in the early days of football were not much more than a scoreline, but had moved on by 1920 to quite wide coverage of various football levels and some quite detailed match reports and football gossip columns. The Coatbridge Leader went on sale on the Saturday, so they made a real effort for the Lanarkshire Cup Final on the Friday night with a report in the Saturday paper but the coverage of extra times was basic, fair enough the very late play must have pushed the print run to the limit.