Chapter 19. CUP FEVER
Isaac Smith advertised for an opponent for the 4th January. As it only appeared in the 2nd January Sporting Life I assume there was not enough time to arrange a game.
7th January 1890 committee meeting – Teams selected for Phoenix and Bedford.
14th January 1890 committee meeting – Team selected for Wolverton at Luton on the 18th.
11th January. The first team went to play Bedford Town and came away with a 4 0 victory.
18th January 1890.
“Luton Town v Wolverton. The local club put their representative team into the field on Saturday last to meet the Wolverton men, who, unfortunately for the interest of the game, had to be assisted by two Luton players, F. Hoy and Carter. Soon after the start the visitors ran up the field and put the ball through, but an appeal of “off-side” was allowed against them. Each side alternatively pressed, but without result, though the smart play of some of the Wolverton men contrasted very favourably with the loose play of the home team. During the first half the latter played most indifferently, there being hardly a redeeming feature in their performance. The fact that they have not take the field for some weeks may be some excuse for this; but then those who engage to play a match ought not to get out of practice. In the second half, however, they showed improved form, and twice Miller made good runs up his side, but the centre man failed to score. F. Whitby ran up finely and centred to J.C. Lomax, but the Wolverton goalkeeper fisted out what looked like a certain record. The remainder of the play was almost exclusively in the visitors’ territory, and but for their admirable defence they would have been badly beaten. H. Whitby managed to send a shot very high up, and by this means scored the first point for the locals. Three corners were allowed for the “Reds,” and though kicked by E.H. Lomax they fell to nothing. Just about two minutes before the final whistle F. Whitby from his wing sent a soft shot, which the goalkeeper, attempting to kick away, allowed to pass through, so that at the close of the game Luton were victorious by 2 goals to nil. The Luton team were composed as follows:- Munro, goal; Humphrey and Martin, backs; A. Taylor, E.H. Lomax and Moody, half-backs; F. and H. Whitby, Deacon, Miller, and J.C. Lomax, forwards.”
21st January 1890 committee meeting – Team selected to play against J.C. Lomax’s eleven on the 25th. gate money for the 18th £2 4s 11d Wolverton. Expenses for Bedford match 25/-. “Resolved that Hon Sec scratch match with Royal Arsenal and that the draw for the Kettering Cup be played on that date also resolved that Hon sec write to Association inquiring as to the capabilities of Mr Burrows as a referee”.
No report for the game on the 25th against J.C. Lomax’s eleven.
28th January 1890 committee meeting – teams selected against old St Paul’s and St Albans. Gate money for Sat 28th 18/2.
1st February saw Old Paul’s Reserves v Luton Town
“The latter put a mixed team into the field on Saturday last to meet the reserves of their old opponents – the Old St. Paul’s. Deacon started the ball down the slope for the home side, and after one or two mis-shots H. Whitby was deservedly applauded for scoring the first goal, which he secured by a splendid shot, the ball dropping high up under the bar. Later on the same player with his brother gave a nice exhibition of short passing, which also ended profitably, F. Whitby running up and shooting the ball through in rare style. Though Munro had much less work to do than his “vis-a-vis,” he was called upon to fist away on two occasions. “Hands” fell to Luton close to the Reserves’ goal, but the London backs lifted the ball out of danger. Just before half-time H. Whitby carried the play up the field by himself and then from the side sent in the leather right across the mouth of the goal, Smart neatly heading it through. From this point the Lutonians had by far the best of the play, and but for the vigilance of the opposing goal-keeper would have scored several times. Deacon managed to put one through, but his work was ruled “offside” by the referee. Soon after this the “Olduns” forwards broke away, and by dribbling and good passing were enabled to get a shot at goal. Munro caught the ball near the cross-bar, and in doing so fell slightly back, an occurrence which caused the visitors to claim a goal, and this, after a squabble was granted to them. Luton played a very good and fast game for the rest of the time, and from among a medley of men round the goal F. Whitby scored the fourth point for them. One or two other attempts were made, but nothing resulted, and the Luton men were victorious at the close by four to one. Luton were represented by Munro, goal; Humphrey and Martin, backs; Holdstock, “Tap’us” Wright and Pitkin, half backs; Deacon, H. Whitby, Fuller, F. Whitby and Smart, forwards. Next Saturday the Town Club play Irthlingborough in the third round of the Kettering Charity Cup, away from home”.
4th February 1890 committee meeting – Teams selected against Irthingborough and Dreadnought. Gate money for feb 1st was £1 8s 8d. “A discussion took place upon a letter from Mr Murray Ford as to the desirability of forming a Southern League after which it was resolved that Hon Sec should inform Mr Ford that we should certainly send a representative for Luton Town but beyond that we let it rest in the Hon Sec’s hands until something more definite is known as to the working of the league”.
8th February 1890 – The Luton Reporter of 14th February 1890 states
“Luton Town v Irthingborough. Played at Irthingborough on Saturday and won by Luton by five goals to none”.
11th February committee meeting – Gate Money for Sat 8th £1 2s 8d. Expenses of cup tie at Irthingborough £2 19s 4d. Share of gate money from Irthingborough £5 5s 2d Spratley is gateman regularly and appointed for the next home game.
19th February – Teams selected against Marlow and Alexandria.
“After the usual business the conduct of Munroe of late was freely discussed when it was resolved that we drop him from the team altogether, and Read having expressed his willingness to take the ground mans place, he should be installed as goal keeper and receive the same remuneration as the former ground – man”. “Resolved that Hon Sec arrange terms with Royal Arsenal”.
22nd February the Town played Marlow.
“This match was played at Marlow on Saturday last. Luton, who arrived one man short and had to get a substitute, did not play their best team, whilst the home club put a strong team into the field. Deacon started the ball downhill at 3.15 and the home forwards were soon attacking the Luton goal, the custodian of which was “all there,” making some remarkable saves, for which he was deservedly applauded. For some time Marlow continued to press their opponents, but could not lower the Luton colours, owing to the fine defence of the Luton backs and goalkeeper. On several occasions the Luton forwards managed to break away. Half-time arrived without any goal having been scored, although Marlow had much the better of the play, having obtained no fewer than 6 corners and 14 byes to Luton’s 2 bye. On ends being changed the home team had matters all their own way, and five minutes from the re-start Shone drew “first blood” for the home team, the ball having been nicely put into the mouth of the goal by Shaw. After several remarkable saves by the Luton goal-keeper, some good play on the part of Morris enabled Shaw to gain a second goal for Marlow, whilst a little later on the same player credited his side with a third and last goal. The Luton custodian running out and missing the ball. During the second half of the game Marlow obtained 3 goals, 3 corners and 23 byes and Luton1 corner and 2 byes. The goal-keeping of Read has not been equalled for some seasons past on the Marlow ground. The Luton team consisted of T. Read, goal; A. Martin and A. Hoy, backs; J. Wright, E.H. Lomax and H. Whitby, half backs; J.C. Lomax and F. Whitby, right wing; G. Deacon, centre; H. Carter and W. Wise (sub.), left wing”. The cricket reference to byes is a first but gives us an excellent vision of the balance of play in the game.
Excelsior lost “an even but discontented game” 2 1 to Rangers.
25th February committee meeting –
gate money for sat £1 2s 7d. “Hon sec stated that Mr Humphrey had returned his shirt without any explanation as to why. Therefore it was resolved that Hon Sec should obtain some sort of explanation about the matter and report to the adjourned meeting to be held on Wednesday 26th at 8PM”.
26th February committee meeting –
“Hon sec said he had seen Mr Humphrey and that after things had been explained to him he said that undoubtedly he was labouring under a misapprehension and as such was the case he certainly apologised to the committee for the course he had taken and promised to send for the shirt back again”.
4th March committee meeting – teams selected against Kettering and Edmonton.
The Luton Reporter of the 8th March announced
“The Kettering Charity Cup. The Luton Town Club are drawn against Kettering in the semi-final round of the competition of this cup, and the mach is to be played to-morrow. Members and friends wishing to accompany the home team will be able to obtain tickets at reduced fares by the 12 o’clock train, while a saloon will be provided for their use.”
The 8th March 1890 saw the the Town take on Kettering. The Luton Reporter
“Semi-final of Kettering and District Charity Cup. This match was played on the Kettering ground on Saturday last, and was witnessed by a good many who travelled from Luton. Luton, winning the toss, played with the wind during the first half. At the start the Kettering forwards went away with a rush, but were stopped by the backs and Read in goal. The Luton forwards then visited the Kettering goal, and after some defensive play by Kettering the first point was scored for Luton by Deacon, twelve minutes from the start. The visitors continued to keep uncomfortably close to the Kettering goal, the forwards playing a good game, being well supported by the back divisions. On crossing over, the Luton team had only one goal to their credit, which did not look like enough, they having had the advantage of the wind. On the ball being started again the Kettering men went with a rush and made several attempts to score, but failed. The Luton team played a defensive game, E. Lomax and Taylor being especially busy. After a time the Luton forwards once more visited the Kettering goal, and some good passing by J.C. Lomax, Deacon and Miller enabled the first named player to get another point. At this time there remained but six minutes to play, and the Kettering men seemed worn out. A few minutes later, however, their forwards succeeded in scoring through a mis-understanding, the Luton backs heading the ball through. They afterwards made another dash, but it was now too late; the whistle blew, and thus ended what was distinctly a fast game by two goals for Luton to one for Kettering. Luton, thus qualified to enter the final, which is to be played at Kettering on March 22nd, on which day the Midland Railway Company will run an excursion from Luton. After the match the cup and medals will be presented to the players.”
11th March committee meeting – Gate money for Sat 8th 18/6. Same team play at Bedford and Kettering. Received from Hon Sec of Kettering Association through Mr Hill 24/-“.
12th March committee meeting –
“the team should travel by the 12 train and that the Hon sec arrange with Railway Company to run an excursion if possible to start some where about 1 o’clock after which it was resolved that in the event of the cup coming to Luton J.C. Lomax, E.H. Lomax and J Long Esq with the Hon Sec should become securities for the safe keeping of the same”. Expenses for Kettering £2 19 0d, and for Marlow £3 18s 6d.
15th March 1890. From the Bedfordshire Mercury of 22nd March 1890.
“Luton Town v Bedford Town. These Association clubs met at Luton on Saturday last, the game ending in favour of the former by one goal to nil. The Luton team was the same as on the previous Saturday, when they beat Kettering in the semi-final of the Kettering and District Charity Cup. The home Captain having won the toss elected to play against the wind, the Bedfordians having to face the sun. Oclee started the ball at 3.40, and Jones and Birbeck carried it into Luton territory, Sanders relieving. The Bedford goal was for a moment in danger, but Heggewald returned the ball into neutral ground. A good opening was given to Oclee, but he failed to take advantage of it. A corner fell to the Lutonians but nothing came of it, and for a time the game was of a give and take nature. After twenty minutes play, Miller, from a pass by Taylor, put the ball between the posts, but as he was off-side the point was disallowed. The spectators, who appeared to expect their own team to have the game all their own way, upon finding the goal to be disallowed, expressed their opinion by hooting, and for several minutes the game was held in abeyance. On restarting, the Bedfordians pressed the home team, and Read had to fist out, and a few minutes afterwards Taylor, from a scrimmage, succeeded in scoring the only goal obtained during the game. On changing over the Bedfordians played a defensive game, entirely frustrating the strenuous efforts of the Lutonians in scoring. For the home team Taylor (who is captain of the Bedford team, but whose services the Lutonians have secured during the past season), Humphrey, and Sanders played a good game, whilst for the visitors Capon and Heggewald at back were in good form. Houliston keeping goal in excellent fashion. Teams:- Luton: Read, goal; Sanders and Humphrey, backs; Moody, E.H. Lomax and A.H. Taylor, half backs; H. Whitby and F. Whitby (right wing), Deacon (centre), J.C. Lomax and Miller (right wing), forwards. Bedford: Houliston, goal; Capon and Heggewald, backs; Smith, Haywood and Blaney, half backs; Perkins and Holland, (right wing), Oclee (centre), Jones and Birbeck (left wing), forwards. Umpires, Messrs Bennett and Royle. referee, Mr F. Pitkin.”
18th March 1890 committee meeting – Team selected to play against Grantham at Kettering sat March 22nd 1890. Gate money for Sat 15th was £2 8s 5d. “Resolved that permission be given to Mr W. H. Buckingham to photograph team and hon sec ascertain the likely cost of photographs”.
The Luton Reporter gives its longest ever space to a Town game for the final of the Kettering Charity Cup. Fortunately for us there could not have been any politics to debate in minutia.
“Luton Town Football Club. Cup Tie at Kettering. An eleven of the Luton Town Football Club journeyed to Kettering on Saturday to try conclusions with the Grantham Rovers in the final round of the competition for the Kettering Charity Cup. The trophy is one presented by the Kettering Dispensary and Northampton Infirmary to the best team in the surrounding district, the object being to raise funds by means of the gate-money for these deserving charities. The conditions are that the cup shall remain in the possession of the champion team for twelve months and that it shall become the absolute property of the club who succeeds in winning it three years in succession or five times at intervals. This was the first occasion that the home club had entered the competition, and their progress throughout the stages has been watched with considerable interest by their admirers, this feeling being raised to its highest point a week or two ago when the team beat the Kettering club in the semi-final round. The other eleven who reached this stage were Grantham Rovers, who had administered a beating of four goals to nil to the Wolverton players, whose form is familiar to lovers of football in Luton. Various estimates of the prowess of the Grantham men had been circulating in the town in the week before the eventful day, but the general opinion seemed to be that the contest would be a hard fought one, and under these circumstances it is not surprising that an extremely large number of enthusiastic partizans paid a visit to the Northamptonshire town on Saturday to witness the game. The Midland Railway Company ran a special excursion train and this was extensively patronised, as many as 500 taking tickets, while a large number had accompanied the members of the team earlier in the day. The departure platform at the railway station was literally packed with the excursionists, and rarely has a cheap trip been so largely taken advantage of by the youth of the town. The journey was performed in good time, and the visitors were enabled to reach the scene of the encounter in time for the commencement of the game. The match was played on the ground of the Kettering Town Club, and here ample arrangements had been made by Mr Flavell, the Secretary of the Association. The ropes which marked the boundaries were lined with spectators in some places standing four deep, and it was computed that about 4,000 persons passed the gates, a goodly number of ladies watching the proceedings with interest. The game was also witnessed by a large number of persons who obtained excellent positions in the upper rooms of a row of houses just outside the ground. Punctually at 3 o’clock the following teams faced the central line :- Luton: T. Read, goal; A. Sanders and G. Humphrey, backs; J. Moody, E.H. Lomax and A.H. Taylor, half backs; G. Deacon, centre; H. Whitby and F. Whitby, right wing; J.C. Lomax and W. Miller, left wing, forwards. Grantham: J.C. Bennett, goal; W, Brittan and L. Freeman, backs; A. Archer, F. Smith and L. Freeman, half-backs; F. Flinders, centre; G. Broughton and T. Southwell, right wing; W. Salew and J. Chamberlain, left wing, forwards. The Luton men were attired in the familiar cardinal jerseys, while their opponents wore black and amber as their distinguishing colours. The Bedfordshire representatives won the toss and elected to play with the wind. Flinders kicked off for Grantham and the first few minutes play showed that the struggle was to be an arduous one, for both teams played with admirable precision and spirit. For some time the game was of a give and take character, the only remarkable feature being some extremely fine kicking by the Grantham backs when their opponents pressed them severely. The ire of the spectators was aroused at this stage by one of the “black and amber” forwards, who when closely tackled kicked the ball out of bounds over some houses in the vicinity. This questionable action was heartily hissed by the spectators. A new ball was obtained, and on re-starting the “reds” showed capital combination and forced the ball into the front of the adversaries goal, but the Rovers’ backs cleared in good style. Free kicks for “hands” and a foul fell to the Lutonians in rapid succession, but nothing resulted, and the Lincolnshire men almost immediately after obtained the first “corner.” The kick was ineffective, however, and the Luton forwards obtained possession rushed the leather the other end of the field. Here a scrimmage took place, which ended in one of the “straw-plaiters” seizing the ball, but by bad judgment he missed scoring. The Luton goal was next assailed, and Read had a particularly lively time for a few minutes. He preserved his citadel, however, in a style which evoked enthusiastic applause of the onlookers, some very dangerous shots being saved grandly. From a kick out the sphere was quickly transferred to the Grantham territory, and J.C. Lomax distinguished himself by a brilliant run. He was tacked by the backs and his progress stopped, but he was enabled to pass across the goal to F. Whitby, who registered the first point in the match after twenty minutes’ play. The success was received with enthusiasm by the spectators generally, but the delight of the supporters of the local team knew no bounds, and for some seconds they continued their jubilant shouts. Their triumph was destined to be short-lived, however, for five minutes later Grantham equalised. The point was appealed against on the ground that the ball had touched the hands of one of the Lincolnshire players, but the objection was over-ruled by the referee. The game was of an even character after this, but at length a “foul” was claimed by the “reds” in consequence of some rough play, and from the free kick their forwards were enabled to reach the vicinity of the opposing fortress. Here some very fine play took place, the Luton men meeting with some extremely hard luck. Shot after shot was made at the uprights, and by the merest chance they failed to score. One after another the forwards endeavoured to add to the total, but they were unsuccessful, one of the most notable efforts being that of Deacon who sent the ball less than a foot outside the posts. After this state of affairs had lasted about a quarter of an hour the Rovers’ forwards managed to transfer some of the action to the opposite end , but the Lutonians again broke away and until half-time was called continued to assail their opponents’ goal. At half-time the score was level, each side having secured one point. The wind, which had been very slight at the commencement of the game, had been increasing as the match progressed, and when ends were changed the Town men found this to be serious difficulty. For some time Grantham pressed, and the local team were compelled to act strictly on the defensive, and it was generally acknowledged that their back play was superb. The opposing forwards were exerting themselves strenuously and exhibiting brilliant form, but their most determined efforts were rendered fruitless by the coolness of the home backs and the irreproachable conduct of Read in gaol, who frequently called forth appreciative cheers from the onlookers by the determination with which withstood the furious attacks which were made upon his position. The Lutonians relieved the monotony by breaking away occasionally, but the Grantham players rapidly regained possession, and so the game proceeded with but little variation to the end. Corner after corner fell to the Rovers, and shot after shot was made at the Luton goal , but by means of excellent combination and defensive tactics, which were repeatedly applauded, the “reds” were enabled to neutralise the most formidable onslaughts of their opponents. As the time for discontinuing drew near both teams redoubled their efforts, and play became fairly even, but though they exerted all their powers neither side was enabled to add to the score, which at the close was one goal each, and the match thus ended in a draw. It must be confessed that the Grantham players were decidedly unfortunate in the second half, but the Luton men also experienced hard luck in the first portion of the game. It would be scarcely fair to criticise, but it seemed that the Lincolnshire representatives were slightly the better team. Their forward play was exceptionally good, the passing being short and effective. The backs, too, kicked magnificently. The weakness in the Luton eleven was to be found among the forwards, who did not work together so well as might be desired. The back division were always to be depended upon, and it is really owing to them that the game was saved. Read’s goal-keeping was worthy of the highest praise, and when the struggle had terminated he was carried off the field on the shoulders of a number of demonstrative admirers. The other members of the team who were most conspicuous were A. H. Taylor and E.H. Lomax at half-back, C.J. Lomax and W. Miller amongst the forwards and A. Sanders and G. Humphrey as backs. It must be stated that the conduct of the great crowd of spectators was very creditable. Good play was impartially cheered, and at the close the Luton men were quite as warmly greeted as their doughty adversaries. The referee (Mr A.R. Hill, hon. secretary of the Cambridgeshire Association) was extremely fair in his decisions, and the actions of the umpires (Messrs T. Maycock and W.H. Parker, of Kettering) was equally satisfactory. The Kettering Town Prize Band were present, and played selections of music during the afternoon.
After the match the members of the teams with about 200 visitors took tea together in the Victoria Hall, where it had been intended to present the cup to the successful team, with medals to the players. This part of the programme was not, of course, carried out, but the guerdon was exhibited in a prominent position. Mr Dryland, president of the Association, occupied the chair, and after tea made a complimentary speech. In the course of his remarks he observed that as a Kettering man he heartily welcomed the Grantham and Luton players to the town. He had not been able to be present at the match, but he had several descriptions of it, and understood that it was a most excellently contested game. From what he could gather it seemed that the attacks of the Grantham men were most vigorous and effective, and that the Luton defence was very praiseworthy. He had heard it said in Kettering – and he knew it now to be a falsehood – that there were not fifteen men in Luton, but that all the residents were women (great laughter). They knew now that not only were there fifteen men but fifteen good men (applause). Mr Dryland afterwards spoke of the excellent object which the competition was designed to assist, and closed by expressing the hope that the return match would be characterised by as good play and conducted with the same good temper as they had witnessed that day (applause). Other speeches of a similarly complimentary nature followed, an incidental reference to the exertions of the Luton goal-keeper being received with tumultuous cheering Vote of thanks to the two teams and to the ladies who had patronised the affair were thereafter accorded, and Mr C.J. Lomax, in responding on behalf of the Luton eleven, said he hoped that his own men would win the cup but he would not grudge it to the Rovers. This was the first time that the Town Club had entered the competition and he was quite sure it would not be the last.
The players and friends returned home later in the evening, and on arriving were hailed with enthusiasm by a large crowd, who had already learned the result. It is understood that the match will be replayed three week to-morrow (Saturday).”
The game of two halves and if the Town had scored that second goal they might well have won the cup. The number who travelled from Luton must have been at least 700, maybe more, and no one in the town could be in any doubt about of the popularity of football in the town. It is nice to see the mention of the youth of the town going to the game. A mere five years has passed since the creation of the club and there had been massive strides forward. The Town were one of the best teams in the south (when at full strength with the Lomax brothers) had reached a serious cup final and had taken 700 fans to Kettering. The reception at the railway station when they returned must have been a unique sight for the town.
It is a pity that Mr Dryland did not watch the final as he would have realised that Association Football teams had eleven not fifteen players. Nevertheless, it was a very good joke and clearly appreciated by everyone present.
25th March committee meeting –
“Expenses of Kettering team (Final). £2 6s 9d. Received from Hon sec of Kettering Association Mr H.J. Favell, £2 7s 8d”. “Resolved that Hon Sec interview Mr More with respect to his playing with our team when he comes off”.
The Luton Times, who had been largely avoiding football suddenly gave a report on the F.A. Cup final which was played on 29th March 1890. The Luton Times of 4th April –
“The match for the English Cup between the Blackburn Rovers and the Sheffield Wednesday teams attracted to Kensington Oval on Saturday an enormous crowd. The Rovers had all the best of the play, and won by six goals to one. The Rovers played a splendid exhibition match, just to give the crowd a run for their money. But it is not exciting to see a cat play with a mouse. You know how it will end. The Blackburn men seemed to play football as scientifically as Roberts plays billiards. The crowd was more amusing than the game, and it was estimated that the number of people who passed through the gates mounted up to 20,000. That is something like a “gate.” Sheffield sent strong contingent to cheers its men, and they did their duty nobly under very depressing circumstances.”
1st April 1890 committee meeting – “
Teams selected to play against Crouch End, Waverley, Woodville, Upton Rovers and Clapham Pilgrims’, Grantham Rovers”. “resolved that Hon sec should visit the official of M.R. company and get them to run their excursion to Kettering on Saturday 19th about 1.15”. “Hon Sec explained that he had waited upon Mr Moore and that that gentleman would be very pleased to play with our team”. “resolved that Referees be appointed on the field during Easter holidays”.
8th April committee meeting –
“Gate money for
Good Friday morning £1 14 5d
Good Friday afternoon £9 19s 7d
Saturday 5th April £3 12s 0d
Easter Monday morning £1 18s 1d
Easter Monday afternoon £7 12s 3d
Total for holidays £24 10s 4d
“Resolved Cup team play against old St. Paul’s with the exception of Thring and Lomax”. Mr Deacon be umpire and he accompany team with the spare ticket.
The Easter results slipped by the newspapers due to politics taking up most of the space. The results, given at the club AGM, were as follows –
4th April – Reserves beat Waverley 3 2
4th April – First team beat Crouch End 6 2
5th April – First team beat Woodville 2 1
7th April – Reserves lost to Clapham Pilgrims 0 1
7th April – First team beat Upton Rovers 2 1
12th April – they beat Old St. Paul’s 4 1 at Dallow Lane.
14th April committee meeting –
Gate money for sat 12th £3 10s 4d. “Resolved that Moody accompany the team to Kettering in the event of either of the halves not showing up”. “also that in the event of the league falling through Hon Sec make the ordinary fixtures with the exception of Woodville”.
19th April – Kettering Charity Cup replay.
“Luton Football Team at Kettering. Contest for the Charity Cup. On Saturday last a team representing the Town Football Club paid a visit to Kettering to do battle on behalf of their Club with the Grantham Rovers in the final round of the contest from the Charity Cup annually offered for competition in the Northamptonshire town. It will be remembered that this tie was undecided a month ago, when Luton managed to make a drawn game, one goal being secured by either side. The tactics pursued by the Town men on that occasion were very severely criticised by the Midland newspapers, one report speaking of their defensive play in goal in the second half as “dog in the manger” policy. Since that time the committee of the home club had strengthened their team by substituting Mr S.F.P. Moore of St. George’s School, Harpenden and Mr L.C.R. Thring of Dunstable Grammar School, in place of G. Deacon and J. Moody at centre forward and half back respectively. Considerable speculation had taken place in the town before the eventual day as to the probable result, and although some sanguine beings were found who were under the impression that the Town Club would win, the balance of opinion was in favour of the Grantham men. The weather on Saturday morning was cold and dull, but as the day wore on the prospect became a trifle better, and the sun struggled through the obscuring masses of cloud at intervals. This improvement in the atmospheric conditions doubtless had the effect of leading many waverers to resolve to make the journey to Kettering in order to witness the exertions of their champions. The scene at the Midland Railway station at the time for departure of an excursion train which had been announced was an exceedingly busy one, upwards of 500 holiday-makers taking tickets, while a goodly number had accompanied the members of the eleven earlier in the day. The excursion train was literally packed, and a saloon which had been provided by Mr T.G. Hobbs was fairly well filled. A large number of the travellers displayed in their hats a card bearing in the club colours a portrait of the Captain (Mr J.C. Lomax) and the inspiring words “Play up, Luton.” The train departed about 1.15, and so rapidly was the journey made that the visitors were enabled to absorb the sense of the encounter in good time prior to the kick off. The venue was again the Kettering Town ground, and here a great crowd of spectators had assembled, it being estimated that about 5,000 were ranged round the ropes which marked the boundaries. Excellent arrangements had been made by the committee and by Mr Flavell, the secretary, though it must be stated that the accommodation provided for members of the journalistic profession was not nearly sufficient. As on the previous occasion a number of ladies attended to witness the game, many of them wearing the black and amber favours of the Grantham Club, while other evidently sympathised with the Lutonians. At 3 o’clock the members of the opposing teams made their appearance amid general applause, and faced the central circle in the following order:- Luton: T. Read, goal; A. Sanders and G. Humphrey, backs; L.C.R. Thring, E.H Lomax and A.H. Taylor, half backs; S.P.F. Moore, centre; H. Whitby and F. Whitby, right wing; J.C. Lomax and W. Miller, left wing, forwards. Grantham: J.C. Bennett, goal; W. Brittan and L. Freeman, backs; A. Archer, F. Smith and W. Freeman, half-backs; T. Flinders, centre; G. Broughton and T. Southwell, right wing; W. Salew and J. Chamberlain, left wing, forwards. The Luton captain won the toss, and elected the play up-hill. There was but little advantage in choice of positions, for what little wind there was blew straight across the ground. Five minutes after the advertised time Flinders kicked off for the Rovers. The “reds” rapidly obtained possession and transferred the scene of operations to the neighbourhood of their opponents’ goal, but the backs relieved and passed to their forwards, who made an inroad into the Luton territory. Here their rush was finally stopped by Humphrey, who was playing hereabouts in first-rate style. “hands” soon afterwards fell to the Bedfordshire men, but the back play of the Rovers was too good to allow of any good, while their forwards exhibited capital combination at this stage, the ball being taken down the field in an extremely workmanlike manner. Taylor was to the fore, however, and relieved the pressure, but the Lincolnshire men would not be denied, and from a keen struggle in dangerous proximity to the Luton citadel the sphere went behind, a “corner” being conceded. The ball was splendidly centred from the free kick and a tough scrimmage ensued in front of the “straw plaiters” goal, and it seemed to the onlookers that the assailants must inevitably score. By a remarkable piece of luck, however, one of the “black and amber” players headed the leather over the cross-bar. Flinders, the Grantham centre forward, soon afterwards made a grand overhead shot at goal but this was ineffectual, and an infringement of the offside rule by a Rover subsequently gave a slight advantage to the Bedfordshire men, a free kick being allowed the. A second “corner” was obtained by the opposing team within the next few minutes, but the half-back who took the shot badly misjudged his distance and kicked the ball behind the posts. Play of a give and take nature ensued, and Miller at length relieved the monotony by sending in a magnificent shot from the left wing at the Grantham goal. The custodian only just managed to stop the ball, and even as it was the referee was understood to have intimated that had the Lutonians appealed he would have awarded them a point. In disposing of the leather the goal -keeper threw it over the boundary line, and thus gave a “corner” to his adversaries. This was negotiated with admirable effect, and it was by the merest chance that the back division of the “black and amber” wearers prevented their assailants from capturing their fortress; indeed, a Grantham man almost scored for their opponents by making a bad kick in front of the uprights. A “corner” to Luton was the next noteworthy feature of the game, and soon afterwards the onlookers were delighted by a grand achievement by Humphrey. He had missed his kick, and the and the ball had been seized by one of the Lincolnshire forwards who was running rapidly in the direction of the Luton citadel, when Humphrey pursued him and deprived him of possession in dashing style. A short time afterwards disaster to the Town colours was averted by the admirable play of Read, the goal-keeper. E.H. Lomax had taken the ball from an opponent, but he was similarly treated in his turn, and the sphere was kicked into the mouth of Read’s charge. He saved excellently, but his services were immediately afterwards brought into requisition again, and the attack was at length brought to an end by a “red” giving a “corner,” which was not improved upon, a Grantham forward heading away from the goal-line. For a short time hereafter skirmishing was carried out in the Lincolnshire half, but at length their forwards rallied and launched a determined onslaught on the opposing fortress. A rush ended in a tolerably easy chance of scoring falling to the raiders, but the shot was “muffed” and rendered nugatory. Some fine efforts were made in front of the Grantham citadel, and it was soon after this that a great misfortune befell the Lutonians. Humphrey had stopped one of his opponents, but by some means his leg became twisted and he sustained a severely sprained knee. He at once fell to the ground, and the game was suspended while he was being attended to. After about five minutes cessation the match was proceeded with and Humphrey pluckily resumed his place amid general applause, though he was almost disabled. The drawback was added to by the fact that E.H. Lomax was playing with an injured leg. The ball having been kicked off from the centre, Miller, who had been playing extremely well, took possession and made a fine run. He was unable to score, however, and a united attack was in turn made on the “reds” goal, Chamberlain finishing up by sending in a shot which was just out of reach of the custodian. Half-time arrived directly afterwards, the score being then; Grantham 1 Luton 0. With a balance against them and with the consciousness that their playing strength was diminished, the Lutonians commenced the second portion of the game with heavy hearts. They had been playing in the first period in uncommonly good style, though their combination was not so good as might have been wished. The Granthamites, with the score in their favour, played in an increasingly dashing manner, their superiority impressing itself upon the most prejudiced onlooker. For some minutes after the resumption the “black and amber” colours were to be found uncomfortably close to the goal defended by the opposite colour, and it seemed that on two or three occasions they missed easy chances of adding to their total. Moore, who had been playing in rare form though he was closely watched by his opponents, soon afterwards made a grand run and ended up making a good shot, which was rendered ineffectual by the vigilance of the Rovers’ keeper. This incident seemed to infuse new ardour into the “straw plaiters,” and for about ten minutes some of the finest play of the match was witnessed, Luton being palpably unlucky. The hopes of the supporters of the Town were dashed, however, shortly afterwards by a second notch being registered for their doughty foemen by Flinders, though many of the onlookers were of the opinion that the offside rule had been broken. An appeal on this ground was overruled by the referee. In a few minutes a third goal was obtained through the agency of Flinders, and it now became apparent that the chances of Luton were infinitesimal. Humphrey, who had been kicking under difficulties, soon afterwards had to give up and was carried off the field, and for the remainder of the time the Town team played one man short, F. Whitby being sent back and Thring being given a place among the forwards. At the close it was found that the Grantham team had won by three goals to nil. The Town team were seen to much better advantage than on occasion of their former visit to the Northamptonshire town, and their beating was not a disgraceful one, for they were distinctly outclassed. The pick of the home team were Moore, Thring, who worked extremely hard all through, and Sanders whose steady kicking delighted everybody. Miller made some excellent runs during the first half, but he did not show nearly so much advantage in the second portion, while the play of the Whitby brothers was disappointing. L. Freeman, back, was the finest player amongst the Grantham men, and Flinders and Chamberlain were trustworthy.
The cup and medals were presented at a public tea meeting held in the Town Hall after the match, the pleasing ceremony being performed by Mrs Dryland, wife of the President of the Charity Association. The whole of the members of the Luton team received a medal each in addition to those given to the winners. Speeches of the usual complimentary nature were subsequently delivered. The Kettering Town Band gave an open-air concert while the presentation was proceeding.
The return journey was undertaken in good time, and home was reached shortly before 10. Humphrey, who had been attended free of charge by Dr. Allison in the dressing-room at Kettering, was placed in the players’ saloon, and on reaching Luton he was ministered to by Dr. F.W. Clark, who had been telegraphed for, and subsequently removed to his home. He is progressing as well as can be expected, and it is satisfactory to be able to state that in consequence of the team having been insured against accident he will be amply provided for during his period of enforced retirement”.
Editorial of the Luton Reporter.
“The members of the Town Club made a bold bid for the fine football trophy offered by the Kettering Charity Association, but they were forced to succumb to the superior tactics of the Grantham Rovers. The defeat of the local team will doubtless be explained away by their admirers, though it seemed to unprejudiced spectators that the game was lost through the unfortunate lack of combination which distinguishes their efforts. This drawback has been commented upon repeatedly, yet no improvement is effected, and it is certain that until the players recognise the need for unity in their struggles they will have to content themselves with their present position. The team on Saturday included men who were equal, if not superior, to any of the opposing eleven, but their play was selfish, and they altogether lacked the self-sacrificing spirit which has served to bring the well-known Northern teams to prominence. The members of the Grantham eleven, on the other hands, relinquished possession of the ball immediately they were pressed, and the result was that they were enabled to elude the vigilance of their opponents. It was extremely pleasing to see their forwards ranged in an unbroken line and passing freely, and their example may well be commended to the Lutonians. It is somewhat late, perhaps, to make these remarks, but the necessity for better combination has frequently been insisted upon, and it is to be hoped that with their recent reverse in sight the players will take the matter to heart and profit by it”.
The Luton Times also covered the game in a very similar fashion.
The injury to Humphrey was certainly the turning point in the game it seems. With E.H. Lomax also struggling against a very good team it was a heart breaking way to lose the game. It gave the players and supporters some comfort in their defeat. If they had appealed for a goal from Miller’s long shot they may well have gone one nil up. Why they did not appeal may be down to the gentlemanly manner that the Lomax brothers spread amongst the team. We know that J.C. was loathe to appeal when a foul was committed upon him. Quiet captains can be a very useful asset but appealing at the right time is a necessity.
21st April committee meeting –
“With respect to the league it was left to the discretion of the Hon sec as to whether the clubs proposed by the meeting would be strong enough to do any good”.
25th April 1890 committee meeting –
Gate money for Tottenham Hotspur £2 5s 6d. Messrs Steabben and Evan be the auditors for season 89/90. “resolved that all shirts belonging to the club be called in also that all utensils belonging to the club be removed from the ground to Mr Scott’s”. “Proposed by Mr Bennett and seconded by Mr Long that as the majority of the best London teams do not intend to join the league we likewise do not entertain the idea”. Also if convenient the Hon Sec to make “home and away matches with Kettering”. Also resolved that “Hon sec write to Messrs Moore and Thring thanking them for service rendered to the club during the final stage of the Kettering Cup also asking for their services in the season to come”.