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Knocked out of the Cup 3 times in the same season

posted 2 Jul 2018, 08:26 by Roy McDonald   [ updated 31 Aug 2018, 07:10 ]

This article appeared in print in the programme for the Prescot Cables v Irlam F.A. Cup tie on 25th August 2018. It tells the story of one club's remarkable season in the F.A. Amateur Cup

Football clubs will all have suffered the disappointment of defeat in a cup competition at some point. However, for one club, there was the extraordinary incidence of being knocked out of the same cup, three times in the same season!

During season 1909/10, the amateur side Preston Winckley were drawn to play the Sheffield club in the first round of the F.A. Amateur Cup.

The Yorkshire men easily overcame their Lancastrian rivals by 5 goals to 2. However, after the match, Winckley submitted a protest claiming that the pitch at Sheffield’s Niagra ground had been only 103 yards long, rather than the minimum of 110 yards required under Cup rules. The FA Management Committee upheld this protest and ordered the tie to be played again at the Preston ground. The replay saw Winckley win by 3 goals to 1, in a game which collected total gate receipts of just nine pence!

In the second round, Winckley were drawn at home to Stockton, who, mindful of the pitiful gate receipts, offered a £55 guarantee to transfer the tie to the North East. The Prestonians accepted and promptly shocked the home team winning 4 – 3 on their own ground.

In the third round of the Cup, Scarborough defeated Preston Winckley by a single goal. However, after the tie, it was revealed that Scarborough were to be expelled from the competition after another protest by the Preston club, that the Yorkshiremen had included a registered professional player amongst their ranks.

The circumstances surrounded an old playing member of the Scarborough club, L. O. Charlwood, who is said have done much to foster the amateur game in the Yorkshire. Charlwood had suffered a long and serious illness, necessitating a number of operations. The medical expenses were considerable and it was recognised that his playing career was at an end.  In recognition of the high regard in which he was held and a desire to acknowledge his services, the Scarborough club sought permission to play a benefit match to raise funds to offset the cost of his medical expenses. The request was made to the North Riding Football Association, and through that body, to the F.A., who, in giving their sanction for the match, demanded that Charlwood should sign a professional form for Scarborough. The benefit match was played, and raised the sum of £27 for the player.

However, after their cup defeat, Winckley claimed that as the Yorkshiremen included a professional in their named squad, they were ineligible for the Amateur competition. Remarkably, the F.A. upheld Preston’s protest, disqualified Scarborough and awarded the tie to Preston Winckley. However, given the peculiar circumstances of the case, permission was granted for Scarborough to cancel Charlwood’s registration and restore their amateur status.

This decision caused a huge outburst of sympathy for the Scarborough Club, and some derision directed towards Winckley. As Charlwood had given up the game, and that there was not the slightest prospect that he would ever again able to play, it was considered harsh treatment that the club should be disqualified because they committed a technical error in not removing his name from their registered list.

Although it was clear that a rule had been infringed, Scarborough had not sought to derive any advantage and had gained their victory over Preston with a purely amateur side. Some observers accused Preston Winckley of behaving in an unsportsmanlike manner in protesting, suggesting that they should be awarded a special medal for the whining attitude they adopt when beaten.   

Naturally, Scarborough appealed the decision, but in a letter to the club, Mr F.J. Wall of the F.A. said, “The Committee which dealt with this matter had, for the purpose, the full power of the Council. You have failed to observe Rule 4 of the Amateur Cup rules and you, in consequence, disqualified yourselves”.

The Northern Nomads, who had been beaten by Scarborough in the second round of the Cup claimed that the only logical result of the F.A. Commission’s decision was that, if Scarborough were deemed not to be eligible to play in the Amateur Cup, then all the clubs beaten by them that season (New Brighton Tower and the Nomads) should be reinstated in the competition, and have a chance of playing for the right to meet South Bank in the fourth round, as it was obvious that all the ties played by Scarborough had become void.

However, the F.A. Commission ruling stood.

There was, probably, much quiet rejoicing when Winckley were defeated (legitimately) for the third time in the Competition by South Bank in the fourth round.