Tottenham Hotspur 3 Sheffield United 1
Non-League Spurs Triumphant
|1901 FA Cup Winners - Tottenham Hotspur|
The Football League was formed in 1888 and was the preserve of teams from the Midlands and the north of England. However, in an effort to improve the standard of football in the south, the Southern League was formed and having turned professional, Spurs joined it in 1896. Tottenham quickly established themselves in the 1st Division of the Southern League and won it in their fourth season, 1899-00. Therefore, it was as Champions of the Southern League that Spurs entered the FA Cup in 1901.
Road to the Final
1st Round v Preston North End (h) Draw 1 - 1 Brown
In 1901, the 3rd Round equivalent was the 1st Round and the match wasn’t played until early February due to the death of Queen Victoria. Spurs were defending Southern League Champions and
their first opponents were the might of the 1st Division, Preston North End, the team they had so admired that they had adopted their colours two seasons previously and who had defeated them in the same round a year earlier. Having lost at Preston the previous year, Spurs were hoping for revenge but when the visitors took the lead midway through the first half the prospects were not looking good. Spurs increased the pressure in the second half but the Preston goalkeeper played exceptionally well to deny them until nine minutes from time when Sandy Brown equalised.
1st Round (Replay) v Preston North End (a) Won 4 - 2 Brown (3), Cameron
The return of inside forward David Copeland, the previous season’s inspiration, from long term injury just prior to the first game, had been a great boost to the team and they set out for the replay at Preston with another injured player returning, captain John Jones. In the replay Spurs looked a different side going ahead through player/manager John Cameron and Brown then added another two before the interval. Preston pulled a goal back but Brown completed his hat-trick and although Preston scored again, Spurs were safely through to the next round – the 'giant-killers' were on their way.
2nd Round v Bury (h) Won 2 - 1 Brown (2)
No-one could accuse Spurs of having an easy ride in the FA Cup. Having removed 1st Division Preston from the competition in the previous round, they were drawn against Bury, the FA Cup holders. In the previous year’s Final Bury had brushed aside Southampton, Spurs’ rivals from the Southern League. Spurs had home advantage but 1st Division Bury took the lead within two minutes, before some of the record crowd of 20,250 had taken their places inside White Hart Lane. Bury then dominated the game putting Spurs’ defence under constant pressure but after half an hour Spurs managed to score – very much against the run of play. From a rare foray into the Bury half, winger Tom Smith centred from the right and Sandy Brown scored the goal that completely changed the game. Spurs were filled with confidence and in the second half there was a complete transformation in the match. Brown scored a second goal and while Bury recovered to fight back in an effort to retrieve the situation, it was Spurs, the non-League side, who were playing the cultured football and deservedly progressed to the next round.
3rd Round v Reading (a) Draw 1 - 1 Brown
Reading, the only other non-League team left in the competition but Spurs had lost at Reading in the Southern League in November so although they had defeated League opposition in the previous rounds, this match was not going to be easy and so it proved. Every Cup winning team has a moment when they could so easily have gone out of the competition and it happened for Spurs at Reading. A goal down early on to a robust home team, Spurs were struggling to make any impact on the game. Early in the second half Spurs recovered for a brief period and equalised through winger John Kirwan but then Reading took control again. Spurs were forced to hang on but when goalkeeper George Clawley failed to hold a shot, full-back Sandy Tait punched the ball clear – a certain penalty. Everyone saw what had happened except the referee the linesman and when a goal-kick was awarded the 3000 Spurs’ supporters gave a collective sigh of relief and Spurs held on for a replay.
3rd Round (Replay) v Reading (h) Won 3 - 0 Brown (2), Copeland
In the replay the following Thursday Spurs took control after David Copeland had given them an early lead. Sandy Brown scored two more to give Spurs a comfortable win and so maintain his record of scoring in every round of the Cup. As Spurs looked forward to a semi-final tie against West Bromwich Albion, the question being asked was - Could this be Spurs’ year to win the Cup?
Semi-Final v West Bromwich Albion (at Villa Park) Won 4 - 0 Brown (4)
Final v Sheffield United (at Crystal Palace) Draw 2 -2 Brown (2)
The non-League 'giant-killers' had reached the FA Cup Final but no-one expected them to win again. An attendance of 114,815 watched as Spurs took on the experienced League team who took the lead after twelve minutes. Spurs were under a lot of pressure but took control of the game and equalised through Sandy Brown thirteen minutes later, heading in from a free-kick after a foul on Kirwan.
Brown put Spurs ahead five minutes after the interval with a goal which involved all five Tottenham forwards as he fired a shot in off the bar.
However, a dubious refereeing decision gave United an equaliser one minute later. George Clawley, the Spurs goalkeeper, fumbled a shot but when challenged managed to scramble it clear for a corner as signalled by the linesman. However, the referee awarded the goal that never was. From this point the game drifted to a draw and a replay.
Two nights after the Replay, cinematic newsreel shots showed that the ball had not crossed the line and the United equaliser should not have counted.
Final (Replay) v Sheffield United (at Bolton) Won 3 - 1 Smith, Brown, Cameron
Team: Clawley; Erentz, Tait; Morris, Hughes, Jones (Captain); Smith, Cameron, Brown, Copeland, Kirwan.
Brown's record of fifteen goals in the FA Cup is a record that still stands and he become the first player to score in every Round. He played for one more season with Spurs before returning to Portsmouth in 1902. He scored 96 goals in 113 appearances for the club but he will be forever remembered as the player who scored the goals as Tottenham enjoyed their first FA Cup triumph.