By Tony Attwood
I do this with great trepidation, knowing that I am going to be shown up to be quite wrong, on all sorts of details. But without writing it up, I will never know. I am starting with Woolwich Arsenal’s first season in the Cup, although Royal Arsenal played in the Cup from 1889.
1st prelim round: October 14. Ashford United (home) won 12-0. Crowd: 3,000
Ashford United F.C. from Kent was formed in 1880 and were founder members of the Kent League playing at Godinton Road, Ashford. They closed in 1906 and the current club of this name is a youth club. This was the match in which two Arsenal players scored hat tricks for the first time.
2nd prelim round: November 4. Clapton (home). Won 6-2. Crowd, 2,500.
Clapton were formed in 1878 and are still with us, playing in Newham. They were one of the founder of the Southern League in 1894/5, coming 8th out of 9 in the first season, in the first division. They won the FA Amateur Cup (a matter of great significance during the amateur era) in 1907, 1909, 1915, 1924, and 1925.
They have since played in the Isthmian League but now play in the Essex Senior League. (This is not Clapton Orient who played Arsenal during WAFC was in the second division).
3rd prelim round. November 25. Millwall Athletic (home) Won 3-2. Crowd 20,000
Millwall Rovers were founded on the Isle of Dogs in 1885. In 1889 they changed their name to Millwall Athletic and became founder members of the Southern League which they won in 1895 and 1896. They moved to the Den in 1910 and thus became what people today like to call a “franchise” club, three years before Arsenal moved north.
They moved south because there was limited support on the Isle of Dogs – just as Arsenal moved north because support was collapsing as the factories closed at Woolwich. There’s a description of their first match at the Den in “Making the Arsenal”.
This cup tie shows that the crowds would turn out for the right match, and the game against Millwall was the most local of derbies. The highest league attendance that season was 13,000.
4th prelim round. Dec 16. 2nd Scots Guards (away). Won 2-1 after extra time. Crowd 9,000
Milwall Athletic who we played in the previous round had tried to launch a Southern League in 1894, after Royal Arsenal’s earlier attempt had failed. At the 1894 meeting they attracted among others Clapton, and the 2nd Scots Guards. More teams came and went, and ultimately the Scots Guards opted out (Southampton took their place). This match is the only record I can find of the 2nd Scots Guards in the FA Cup – although I guess they must have played others (even if they got a bye this year).
It is interesting to see that this game is recorded as getting a result after extra time – so extra time in the first, not the second match in those days.
1st round proper. Jan 27. The Wednesday (home). Lost 1-2. Attendance 15,000.
The Wednesday were a first division club at the time, having entered the league the year before. They finished 12th this season. A further thought on attendance – although I can’t say anything about the weather, it is noteworthy that the local derby against a non-league team got a bigger attendance than a meeting with a first division side.
(And to jump in time, on 29 October 1892, when Elliot played in the FA Cup Qualifying Round match against City Ramblers. What makes this game special is that James Henderson, Charles Booth and Arthur Elliott each got three goals – the only time ever that three players all got hatricks in one game.)
The team for the final game of this cup run was
4: F W Davis
7: G Crawford
8: J Cooper
Sorry about the missing players – I will get to them eventually but if you have any info, do let me know.