Too Dark to Continue: The 1897 London Senior Cup Tie v Leyton that had to be abandoned, but Rangers did win the Replay

Team: Hunt, Smith (J), Hughes (F), Walburn, Musselwhite, McKenzie, Hadwick, Hughes (R), McDavid, Wallington (A), Wallington (E)

Attendance: 5,000

Rangers entered the London Senior Cup at the Round Three stage and took on Leyton at West Kilburn on 27th November 1897. A match report appeared in the Sporting Life two days later:

‘At West Kilburn on Saturday a big crowd of about 5,000 spectators had the pleasure of seeing the homesters again victorious.

Play was started about 15 minutes late, and we understand that Leyton were after the advertised time in arriving.

On starting, Queen’s Park at once took up the running, and pressed in vigorous style. Stirling was very safe, however, for Leyton. Russell occasionally had some nice sprints. Musselwhite was on the watch for all would-be scorers.

Despite both teams repeated attempts nothing occurred of a definite nature till just before half-time, when McKenzie headed a pass from E. Wallington, and scored the only goal for Queen’s Park amid great cheering. Up to the interval nothing further happened.

On resuming, play ensued of a most even nature. The weather now became rather unfavourable, and, rain falling, the going became none too good.

Leyton tried hard to equalise, and came very near to succeeding on many occasions. F. Hughes saved several fine attempts. Fincham did some clever work just before Mr Lockyer, who refereed admirably, stopped play through the darkness with the score – Rangers, one: Leyton, nil.

Musselwhite and F. Hughes were the pick of the Rangers, and Walburn was rather weak. R. Hughes shone well, while Hunt did all required.

Leyton’s custodian, Stirling, could not be blamed for the defeat, and his backs performed satisfactorily. The forwards, excepting perhaps Russell, lacked dash.’

The match was replayed on 11th December and the following report later appeared in the Willesden Chronicle:

‘The Rangers on Saturday, played Leyton at Kilburn, to decide the game that was drawn a fortnight since because of the darkness, and managed to defeat the East Enders by three goals to one.

Mr Lockyer was the referee and the gate was a good one. Play was started by Leyton with the wind at their backs, but the Rangers pressed at once, and McDavid scored off Wallington’s pass.

The visitors got down opposite, and Reeves nearly got through a shot that hit the post, and though Russell was stopped by Musselwhite, Cartwright managed to make goals even from a combined attack on the Rangers.

Fincham kicked over, and Hunt stopped Reeves, and, spite of the gale, Wallington took the ball into the visitors’ opening.

Before they had lost the wind at half-time, Leyton made desperate efforts to put a point on in front of the Rangers, but the defences were too strong against them up to the interval.

The Rangers’ lot improved with their changed quarters, and Evans soon put on a couple of goals with Hadwick’s clean play and ready help.

The wind and the halves were far too strong a combination to allow Leyton to look dangerous, and they fell back on a defensive policy, which stood them in good stead.

The game ended in the Rangers’ three to Leyton’s one, a result largely due to Queen’s Park’s united fast play in the second-half, and to stout resistance in the first.’

Team: Hunt, Smith, Hughes (F), Walborn, Musselwhite, McKenzie, Hadwick, Evans, McDavid, Wallington (A), Wallington (E)

Rangers were then knocked out the Cup, 3-4 by Fulham, on New Year’s Day.

Steve Russell

(Thanks to Colin Woodley for sending me both match reports)