Wellington Town, Eccles United? It has to be first round day of the Cup!

Last updated : 06 November 2008 By Dad of Dave the Shrimper
Telford away on Saturday in the 1st Round of the cup, but this isn't the first time we have met in this competition. We played Wellington Town, (who changed their name to Telford in 1969), in the first round of the cup at the Kursaal ground in 1927-28.

Blues won the game 1-0 in front of crowd of about 5,000, the goal being scored by Billy Hick. He had been signed from Middlesbrough as part of a deal which took Jim McClelland from Southend to the North East, this was seen as a major blow as he had scored 22 goals in 29 games but Hick proved to be a good replacement scoring 76 goals in 116 appearances.

The venues of cup matches had been a matter to be agreed upon between the two clubs, for instance when we drew the current cup holders Sheffield United in 1919-20 the tied was transferred to Bramall Lane Sheffield where the gate was nearly 40,00. The Kursaal had barely been tested above 5,000, a minimum fee was guaranteed to Southend and in the end our share of the gate receipts largely cleared our debts. However there was a lot of bad feeling in Southend that the tie had been switched.

The following year we were drawn at home to a Lancashire amateur side Eccles United even they wanted to switch the tie:

(From the Southend Standard 6 January 1921)


The Southend United received a letter from Eccles United making them a magnificent and tempting offer to play the tie at Manchester, on the City ground, Hyde Road. Ardwick, the Cottonpolls being without an English cup tie next Saturday.

The United board met on Monday and decided that in order to give their supporters the chance of seeing the match, they could not accept the offer and therefore decided to refuse it The decision of the home Directors should meet with the utmost approval of the whole of their supporters and it is to be hoped that they will show their gratitude by rallying round on the eighth and making the gate of Saturday next a bumper.

The United club is badly in need of funds as every week a very considerable amount of money has to be paid off for the grandstand and ground improvements which at the moment is somewhat of a millstone round the clubs neck. The last cup tie after paying Hednesford their share did not meet the United's expenses for that week, while the smaller gates on winter afternoons are being felt by the management. It is therefore up to the local spectators to attend in their thousands next Saturday and to really show that they appreciate having a First Round cup tie in their town.

The attendance for the match was 7,063 about 2,500 more than the previous cup tie:

(From the Southend Standard 13th January 1921)


It was pleasing to see such a good crowd assemble and must have been pleasing to the directors. It is easily a record for a winter afternoon with so early a kick off as 2.30 and it showed that the loyal supporters appreciated the opportunity of seeing a first round tie. For all that both in numbers and cash it was the smallest gate of the day in the cup competition.

We went on to draw Blackpool at home, top of the second division at the time, but resisted their very attractive offer to switch the tie. Again in the 3rd round we even managed to ward off Tottenham to play at White Hart Lane, although perhaps if the offer had been better from Spurs we would have probably have taken it.

So Southend United turned down three financially good offers just to please the home fans? Well they couldn't afford too much "badwill" but our record in away games that season up to the cup games had been 0-1. 0-1, 0-3, 0-3, 0-2, 0-0, 0-1, 3-2, 0-3, 0-2 and 0-0, perhaps that had something to do with it.

At the end of season 1920-21 the rules were changed so that ties could only be changed with permission, for crowd safety reasons not just financial.