28 November 2002

THE achievement of Northern Counties East League club Harrogate Railway Athletic in reaching the second round proper of the FA Cup rekindles memories of Denaby United's past exploits in the world's oldest domestic cup competition.

It is exactly 75 years ago, November 1927, since Denaby first made an appearance in the first round proper of the FA Cup. United initially entered the competition in season 1899-1900 and knocked out Doncaster Rovers, then as now a non-league club, in 1905-06, 1906-07 and 1910-11.
Denaby began their 1927-28 cup campaign with a 3-2 win at Guiseley in the preliminary round then drew 1-1 at Wath Athletic in the first qualifying round before winning the replay at Tickhill Square 7-1. The quaintly named Methley Perseverance together with Frickley Colliery were beaten 1-0 and 2-1 respectively at Denaby in the following two rounds with United again at home to Boston in the fourth and final qualifying round.

Although held to a 1-1 draw they came through 2-1 in the midweek replay at Boston with their reward a home tie in the first round proper against Southport then members of Division Three (North) of the Football League. The game was set for Saturday, November 26, 1927, with the admission price 1/- (5p) reduced to 6d for ladies and juveniles.

The "South Yorkshire Times" then known simply as "The Times" gave the tie a comprehensive build-up in their edition of 25th November publishing photographs and biographical details of the United players. It is interesting to note, in the light of one of the criticisms levelled at the club by the Denaby and Cadeby Welfare Scheme last season, that only one member of the team was "local"-centre forward Dick Kelly.

The Denaby line up, showing where the players lived, was:- 1.Arnold Birch(Grenoside) 2.Matt Taylor(Swinton) 3. Albert Hunter(Sheffield) 4.Joseph Goodison(Sheffield) 5.William Ogley(Castleford) 6.Paddy Windle(Silverwood) 7.Wroe(Birdwell) 8.Ben Johnson(Brodsworth) 9.Dick Kelly(Denaby) 10.John Clegg(Wath) 11. Hetherington(Rotherham)

The match kicked off at 2.15pm in front of an attendance of 5,200, an excursion train having brought a contingent of Southport supporters, with the visiting team including two former Sheffield Wednesday players in right back Worrall and inside right Beadle. Tait put Southport ahead after 31 minutes and further goals from Marshall in the 48th minute and Tait, with his second on 61 minutes, seemed to have killed the game although "The Times" report stated that Tait was certainly offside when netting Southport's third. At this point Denaby showed their spirit and resilience as Dick Kelly pulled a goal back within two minutes.

When Kelly scored his second with 86 minutes played the stage was set for a rousing finish. To quote the match report "Denaby went all out suddenly rejuvenated and encouraged with vain hope...but they strove unavailingly...they retired beaten but honoured in defeat by a gallant battle against long odds."

After this narrow 3-2 success Southport went on to win 3-2 at Bradford Park Avenue in round two, then despatch Fulham 3-0 at Haig Avenue before losing 3-0 at home to Division One club Middlesbrough in the fourth round. They finished 8th in Division Three (North) that season. Denaby were placed 14th in the final table for the 1927-28 Midland League which was won by Gainsborough Trinity.  Also members of the Midland League were Wath Athletic, Mexborough Athletic, Frickley Colliery and Wombwell in a great era for football in the Dearne Valley which is in stark contrast to the state of the game in 2002.

United were to make two further appearances in the first round proper of the F.A. Cup but that is another story!