Matchday Memories: On This Day 1954 – CCFC’s Kirk Kills Cobblers With Freak 80 Yarder!

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On this day (20th November) in 1954  CCFC veteran defender Roy Kirk netted the only goal of the game, and it was a freak, in an F.A.Cup first round tie at Northampton Town‘s County Ground to see City through to a second round Highfield Road date with Scunthorpe United! The ‘Bantams’ as City were then known were doing OK in the old Third Division South and new acting manager (and former CCFC defender) Charlie Elliott was only facing his third game in charge after taking over from ‘gaffer’ Jack Fairbrother at the end of October. Poor Jack had only been in post since January 1954 when tragedy struck as his wife died in an accident at home and he resigned for personal reasons’ to ensure he could look after his two small children.

Alf Wood in action

Charlie’s Boys had lost 1-0 at Southend United but beaten Aldershot 2-1 in the league the previous Saturday so were hopeful of a result today against a club from the same division. The match was decided when, somerwhat fortuitously, Roy’s huge eighty yard clearance from his own penalty area flew into the Cobblers’ half and contrived to bounce over their ‘keeper none other than popular former City shotstopper Alf Wood. There was a good crowd of 14,680 (including a good number of CCFC fans) packed into the County ground which was also where Northants CC played their cricket. Unusually football spectators one one side of the circular ground were asked to watch from temporary shallowly tiered wooden benches laid along the length of the football pitch with much cricket turf behind them!

Roy Kirk in action

Roy, a rugged centre back, who had been signed from Leeds United played 349 games scoring seven goals for the Bantams between signing in March 1952 and summer 1960 when he moved to Cambridge United as player-coach. Alf Wood ended playing fifteen seasons for CCFC in two spells between first signing in December 1935 and his last game in the 1958-59 season! He ended up playing 246 times for City becoming the club’s oldest player when fielded as an emergency ‘keeper covering for Jim Sanders (out with a broken leg) aged 43 for a twelve game spell when coaching with the club. Northampton was his only other major club, sandwiched inbetween his Coventry spells between December 1951 and July 1955.

The two teams lined up as follows:-

Charlie Elliott‘s CCFC (CCFPA members underlined):-

Jack Fairbrother

Charlie Elliott

Reg Matthews; Eric Jones & Roy Kirk; Lol Harvey, Martin McDonnell & Noel Simpson; Gordon Nutt, Peter Hill, Charlie Dutton, Tommy Capel & Eric Johnson

Reg brought CCFC fame as the first Division Three ‘keeper to be capped by England. Lol, Gordon and Peter all became Association members but have since passed away sadly!
 Northampton Town
Alf Wood; Jack Southam & Ron Patterson; John Smith, John Croy & Gwyn Hughes, Felix Staroscik, Don Hazledine, Tommy McLain, Bernard Jones & Tommy Fowler                 Referee: J.J.Topliss (Grimsby)

Lol in 1957

Tommy Capel

In the cup ‘Scunny’ were duly seen off in the next round in December by a crushing 4-0 victory thanks to goals from Lol Harvey, Tommy Lee and a brace from Tommy Capel. However, Huddersfield Town put us out of the F.A.Cup in round three in the new year beating us by the odd goal in three after extra time following a stirring 3-3 draw in Yorkshire.

The Bantams played the Cobblers twice more in Division 3 South fixtures and. once more, goals were hard to come by. In early December they lost at the County ground by the only goal of the game. Towards the end of April 1955 the two sides produced a goalless draw at Highfield Road.

CCFC 1954-55

Coventry City finished ninth in Division 3 South this season with the Cobblers thirteenth but only a point worse off in a packed mid table zone. Bristol City took the Champions accolade and were promoted to Division Two. Walsall in penultimate place and Colchester United in absolute bottom place faced re-election to the Football League with success.

Thanks to CCFPA’s Mike Young for sourcing the images.


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