We Only Get Sxxt Refs: The first cup tie against Chelsea

Last updated : 07 December 2008 By Dad of Dave the Shrimper

The F.A.Cup 2008-09 and we have already played three games and now we have an away day at Chelsea, and having drawn 2-2, and won 2-0 and 3-1 we have scored 7 conceding 3. Of course when it comes to Cup Goalscoring we always think of 1968-69 with the 9-0, 10-1, 2-0 and 1-2 but surprisingly that record of 22 scored isn't our best.

In 1912-13 we actually scored 24 goals.

These goals were scored over seven games, the last five of them away, when we battled from the preliminary qualifying round through to the first round proper. The first two rounds were at home beating Southend Amateur 5-0 and Walthamstow Grange 6-2 The second qualifying round took us to Leytonstone where another big win, 5-0 saw us through to meet Custom House in the next round where we won 1-0. The Fourth qualifying round was again in London at Clapton, where we won 2-1, and then a visit to South Wales where an excellent 3-0 victory took us through at the expense of Cardiff City, and we were through to the first round with a draw away against CHELSEA.

Then, as now anticipation was high but when the big day arrived (11th January 1913) the weather was appalling throwing it down with rain all day which put many of going and the gate was very disappointing. Now don't think that these fans were "wimpish" being put off by a bit of rain, their conditions were basic. There were two main ways to get to the game by steam train or charabanc an early version of the coach except that usually at this time they would be uncovered, totally open to the elements. Stamford Bridge was the second biggest ground in the country at the time and between 1920-22 hosted the cup finals, it had a stand on one side but the rest was open terracing and had a capacity of 100,000. So the majority of fans would have been in the open. So when you looked out of the window, you knew you would be out in the pouring rain for hours on end, is it any wonder that many said no thanks and stayed indoors.

We started the game poorly falling behind by two goals but managed to pull one back before half time, and it looked like an exciting second half and certainly we weren't out of it. The second half started but two very dubious refereeing decisions gave Chelsea two penalties which were both converted and we ended up losing 5-2. Virtually every match these days there are complaints about the referees, but back in these days the criticism was far, far worse. The procedure to become a top class referee was very long winded and was not in the favour of youth, it was said that by the time a referee became fully qualified he was past his retirement age. They were often accused of being unable to keep up with the play due to their age, and didn't use common sense, in one Southend match two players clashed heads, one fell to the ground unconscious with blood pouring from a head wound, but because it had been an accident not a foul he allowed play to continue until our opponents scored a goal. Certainly the Southend Standard newspaper didn't hold back in saying exactly what they thought of the officials.

The moral of the story being lets hope that the weather is dry and we don't get a shit ref when we take on Chelsea this time!