The second in a series of three articles looking back at City’s previous FA Cup encounters with teams from the capital…It wasn’t until after the Great War that London opposition was next encountered but unusually we were drawn against three in one season in 1920/21. With City competing in the Midland League after a failed re-election plea the previous season the Sixth Qualifying Round clash with Bromley was an all non-League affair.
An above average crowd of around 7,000 attended and despite wet weather during the week the pitch was in an excellent condition and had even been given a quick cut prior to kick off. The Bromley players were reported as being much heavier than their City counterparts but it was the lighter players who dominated from the start with Ike Bird opening the scoring after 20 minutes with the only goal of the first half. Bird though could consider himself lucky to have stayed on the pitch just before the interval as he took exception to a bad foul on his teammate Oscar Brentnall and the referee had to come between Bird and the perpetrator Warren to avoid a fight.
Three minutes into the second half Thomas Rippon doubled the lead and despite a brief flurry from the visitors further goals from Brentnall (65 mins), Rippon (80 mins) and Bird from 30 yards in the final minute sealed a comfortable 5-0 victory.
The First Round Proper draw wasn’t kind as it sent City to Millwall who sat fifth in the newly formed Third Division of the Football League and hadn’t conceded a goal in any of their 11 home League games to date! Despite such a good record Millwall’s manager Bob Hunter didn’t underestimate City having them watched prior to the game and describing them as “a typical cup fighting team that could more than hold their own against most of the clubs in the lower half of the Third Division.”
City travelled on the Friday and Millwall opened the gates at 1pm to allow the expected large crowd plenty of time to find a space with 4,000 unreserved seats available and eventually the crowd totalled 31580 paying £1900 in gate receipts.
The game was played at a furious pace with both sides having chances but against the odds it was City who broke the deadlock just before half-time when Rippon from 25 yards out scored with a fine shot. City survived an early scare in the second half when goalkeeper Robert Bainbridge was bundled into the net but just managed to clear the ball before he was over the line and almost immediately afterwards Brentnall easily converted a Rippon cross to double the lead and it was Rippon who completed the scoring although he was injured doing so and had to leave the field for a short time before returning.
After the game the City team were expected to travel straight home but the City MP, Mr A Davies, invited them to dinner at the Regent Palace Hotel and they remained in the capital overnight returning to Lincoln the following day. Thousands of people thronged the High Street and Station Yard whilst the Malleable Band performed but the players were forewarned of the crowds and several left the station via unofficial exits to avoid the crowds whilst those who chose to use the official exit left to deafening cheers although again the players rather than fight through the crowds in High Street made their way home via Sincil Street.
The Second Round draw pitted City against the winners of the Fulham v Blackburn Rovers replay so it was a short wait before it was confirmed that Second Division Fulham would be the visitors to Sincil Bank at the end of January. With the club in an all too familiar position of having financial problems there was a strong case for switching the tie to Fulham but the directors resisted and appealed to supporters to attend the tie even though admission prices were going to be raised. As an incentive to the players Chairman Mr Milner offered them a free hat from a local tailors should they beat Fulham, an incentive that two years later led to a court case as the bill remained unpaid as some players claimed their hats and other items claiming they understood they could claim them if they didn’t lose the game.
Despite the increased admission charges 12,615 attended with the share of the £1,637 18s gate welcome news for the Imps’ coffers and every vantage point was taken up well before the advertised kick-off time with people even climbing trees around the ground for a view but the game whilst exciting was not of great quality with Fulham being criticised for some rough play. City were arguably the better side and were unlucky not to have won the game as Brentnall appeared to be fouled in the area but the referee incensed the crowd by awarding a corner and the same player, late in the game, hit the post when faced with an open goal.
After the game the match ball was auctioned off by MP Davies and raised 32 guineas for the County Hospital.
City travelled down on Wednesday, taking in a show in the evening at Daly’s Theatre, for the Thursday afternoon replay at Craven Cottage but due to heavy fog the referee called the game off at 2pm and it was rearranged for the following Monday.
In contrast to the previous week the game was played in fine, although cold and dull, weather and City found Fulham a much improved team from the first meeting falling behind after 15 minutes when the normally reliable Bainbridge fumbled a shot for what proved to be the only goal of the game. The defeat was tempered by the £200 share of the gate receipts which took City’s total earnings from the cup run to over £1,500.
Having met three London sides in one season it wasn’t until December 1929 that another one was met when the Second Round draw sent Division 3 North City to meet Division 3 South Queen’s Park Rangers at Loftus Road. A crowd of 13,097 saw a goalless first half although there was a controversial incident when Rangers forward George Rounce dribbled through the City defence and hit a shot that struck the foot of the post and rebounded out but the referee awarded a goal. He was immediately surrounded by City players and persuaded to consult his linesmen and after doing so reversed his decision and restarted the game with a drop ball.
Eleven minutes into the second half amateur player Jack Burns put Rangers ahead, his shot actually going in via a post, and he doubled the lead 20 minutes later. Jack Kendall kept City in with a chance when he saved a Bill Pierce penalty two minutes later but the only response came five minutes from the end when Tom Maidment headed home a Billy Ellis corner.
The final pre-WW2 meeting with a London side saw a rematch with Bromley when they visited Sincil Bank for a Second Round tie in December 1938. The tie wasn’t expected to be easy for City as Bromley were the FA Amateur Cup holders and the Echo writer Jason warned prior to the match “I fancy that the Amateurs will prove tougher opposition than is usually anticipated. Particularly in the first half, I believe, they will fully test the Imps, and I shouldn’t be surprised if City have no advantage when the teams change round at the interval.”
A crowd of 9,751 turned out and saw Jason proved totally wrong as Joe Clare put City ahead inside the first 60 seconds and increased the lead through Wally Ponting with just eight minutes played. Billy Bean hit the crossbar before James Wilson and Ponting again did find the net to put the Imps four up after just 21 minutes.
It got worse for the visitors as Richard Deacon, Ponting completing his hat-trick and George Whyte all got on the score sheet before half-time and City took things easy after the interval added just one further goal through Clare in the 71st minute, two minutes after Bromley had scored a consolation.