Posts Tagged ‘football’

Big prizes in 1924 FA cup final competition

April 12, 2020


There’s not much chance of any football cup finals at the moment, but we can at least look back at previous events and this 1924 advert from The Humorist dated April 12 prompts just such an opportunity.

The Humorist was a popular weekly, a downmarket competitor to Punch. But just look at the prizes – a house, a car and £1,000 or £2,500 cash for correctly predicting the scores and the size of the crowds in the two semi-finals. They don’t do competitions like that any more!

Note that the competition was set up by another weekly, Tit-Bits. It was common practice at the time for publishers, in this case George Newnes, to run massive prize competitions like this across several magazine titles. The company had been renowned for its marketing ever since the advent of Tit-Bits in 1881.

The semi-finals being played were:

Newcastle United     v      Manchester City
Aston Villa       v      Burnley

All four teams are today in the Premiership. You’d now expect City to murder the Magpies, except for the fact that Newcastle have had a couple of shock results over City in recent years. Similarly, the betting would be one Burnley – Villa look set for the drop in this suspended season. But back in 1924, research shows the odds would have been the other way – and in the quarter-final, the Toon Army would have been ecstatic with a 5–0 drubbing of Liverpool! This season, Liverpool have only lost one Premiership match, having whacked 66 goals past their opponents with just 21 in reply. But it’s doubtful if anyone would have used the phrase ‘Toon Army’ in 1924. It comes from the Geordie pronunciation of  ‘town’, but the earliest example I can find of its use in print dates back only to 1993 – in the Financial Times of all places – when Kevin Keegan was manager and the Magpies finished third in the Premiership.

1924-FA-cup-final-programme-fleetway-pressThe 1924 FA cup final marked just the second such event at Wembley. This was the year after Wembley opened with the famous White Horse Final, when the pitch was flooded with 200,000 fans in the ground, double its capacity. Despite the overcrowding, no one was crushed because fans were not then penned in as they are now. And a single mounted PC, George Scorey on his white horse Billy, was able to herd the crowd off the pitch so the game could get under way, though it was an hour late. Bolton beat West Ham 2-0. The cup final venue before Wembley was Crystal Palace in south London.

In 1924, Newcastle beat Villa 2-0, the goals scored by Neil Harris and Stan Seymour. After the problems of the year before, it was an all-ticket match, which was dubbed the Rainy Day Final’. But the bad weather was a boon for collectors of match programmes. Why? Fans used their programmes as makeshift umbrellas so there were few decent copies left after the game. It was also printed with a colour pictorial cover for the first time, but on poor paper. Copies of that programme have fetched £4,000 at auction.

>>Humorist magazine profile