Posted by Brian Spurrell on 23 April 2022

Bromley                    1          Stroud 73

Erith & Belvedere   0                     

FA Amateur Cup Final, 23 April 1938 (at The Den)


Concluding the series counting down the 100 most memorable games in our history.  Today, our second and last Amateur Cup Final.



Bromley’s Rock-like Defence Triumphs – goal late in second half decides.


Erith and Belvedere’s hopes of winning the FA Amateur Cup on the second occasion they have reached the final were dashed on Saturday, when Bromley beat them by 1-0.  A crowd of 33,346 (gate receipts £2,237) at Millwall’s ground, The Den, New Cross, saw a game which generally lacked the finer points, but the cup-tie atmosphere and the openness of the result right to the end kept the spectators excited.


The final produced a stern struggle and victory went to the Athenians by the only goal scored, a margin that just about reflected the difference between the two teams.  Few will deny that the better team won.  Bromley were quicker on the ball than Erith and there was more cohesion between their halves and forwards than between the opposition’s halves and forwards.  The Erith halves left too big a gap behind their own front line, with the result that time after time, when the ball was cleared from an Erith forward, it went to a Bromley half or forward.  The result of this was that Bromley dominated the play for prolonged periods.


In the first half the football did not reach a very high standard: indeed neither team played its normal game.  To what extent this was due to the excitement of the occasion it is not possible to say, but it was obvious the style of game was largely dictated by the first-time bustling methods of the Bromley defence, who did not hesitate to kick the ball into touch.



Holbrook tossed the coin – and Scott won.  Bromley’s right went away from the kick-off, but Fuller got his head to the ball to intercept Stroud, then Scott sent out to Young, but Clark beat the winger for possession.


It was a case of kick and run, with Brown in the centre testing Gibbs in the first minute or so.  Then came a rapid movement, Brown passing to Reece, who swung the ball over to the right for Thomas to return it, but Holbrook failed to connect.  Erith went away again only to be checked by Wade, who lobbed down the middle to Brown, but O’Hara stepped in.


Fuller intercepted another shot from Brown, the ball going to Reece, but his shot was deflected over the back line.  The corner kick was badly taken, and from the clearance Young went away, with Barnes after him.  Clark raced out and cleared first-time over the Bromley back line.  Young dropped his flag kick into the goalmouth, Bartaby punched away, but Young returned the ball.  Clark cleared and again Young placed the ball into the middle for Southcombe to head, but Bartaby tipped the ball over the bar.  Not long after this Southcombe was well placed, but the ball dragged behind him and Gray rushed in and cleared.  Bennett received from Scott, but with Southcombe waiting, the half-back kicked weakly and Weeks got the ball away.


Bromley attacked strongly, but once again Erith were on the move, Scott beating Barnes and Clark and then failing at the critical moment.  At the Erith end Stroud received a header from Brown and had only the goalkeeper to beat, but he sent the ball wide.


Saunders and Southcombe forced a corner off Wade.  From this Scott lobbed and Bartaby fisted out.  Scott immediately headed in again but the ball hit the bar and rebounded to bounce awkwardly in front of Southcombe, who handled.  Otherwise!


Brown, standing in what appeared to be an offside position, received the ball and went clean away.  Gibbs was in a quandary, not knowing whether to run out or remain in the goal.  He advanced a step or two and then Brown, conscious that little was racing back, shot hard -  but well wide.


This let-off induced the Erith men to redouble their efforts, and they went away in a line to force another corner, which again occasioned trouble for Bartaby, but again Scott headed over.


From a throw-in Thomas got away, beat O’Hara and Bennett and sent the ball over to the left, whence it came back to Stroud, who tried a beautiful first-time shot but again, just wide of the post.  After this Stroud had another bit of bad luck, with a shot that bounced off the crossbar to go out of play.


Brown for some time had been quiet, Fuller keeping him under control, but now he got well away, unchallenged, but drove the ball wide.


Young took the ball to the Erith right and dropped it into the middle, where Southcombe neatly trapped it and, although tackled by Clark, got in a good shot.  Bartaby pushed the ball over the back line.  Just before half-time Beal put the ball in breast-high to Scott, but the Erith skipper could not bring it down and it was scrambled out to Smee, who tried a left-foot drive – an unusual thing for him, but indicative of the improvement in his play during the season, but it was wide of the goal.  Half-time, Bromley 0 Erith and Belvedere 0.


On the change of ends the play brightened considerably, there being less wild kicking and more judicious placing of the ball by defenders.  Scott had beaten Barnes when he was fouled, but recovered and was away with the ball when the referee whistled.  Young, from the back line, put the ball across, and Bartaby jumped out to fist away from Southcombe and Beal, who had run in.  Again Young passed in, to Scott this time, who shot as Clark tackled, the ball just missing the angle of the goal.  From the goal kick Bromley went away, the ball being passed in to Brown, but Gibbs ran out and collected it as Brown was about to get his toe to it.


In another Erith movement Young was strongly tackled by Clark, and it was here his thigh was injured.  Despite this injury, he hobbled up a little later to take a pass from Southcombe, who had received from Saunders.  Young worked the ball between the backs and shot, but just wide of the mark.  Then Southcombe got the ball out to the left.  Gray made almost his one mistake, miskicking, and so Saunders got in a strong drive, but again the ball went wide.


A forward pass from Smee to Young was intercepted by Clark, the crippled Erith winger being unable to move quickly enough.  Clark sent up to Brown, who sent out to Reece, for the winger to return it after beating his man.  Instead of going towards the ball, Brown waited and so O’Hara nipped in and cleared.


Erith had decidedly bad luck when Young put the ball across between the backs and the goal, but a little too far forward for Southcombe to get to it, although he made a splendid effort.


Then came a sparkling move by the Bromley front line.  Holbrook sent out to Reece, who cut in, but was checked by Little, only to lose the ball to Brown, who swung it to the right.  Fuller touched the return with his toe, but the ball ran on to Stroud, who drove it hard along the ground, to score the only goal of the match 28 minutes after the interval.


Bromley seemed set for another goal the next minute, Brown getting clean away, but Gibbs saved.  An awkwardly bouncing ball was missed by Fuller, and Thomas got in a strong shot, but again Gibbs saved.  From the clearance Southcombe was running through but was forced away by Clark, and Barnes, taking the ball, cleared to the side.  Young snapped it up and placed it back again in the middle, but Weeks had run back and was waiting for it.


Scott cleverly feinted to get the ball across to Beal, but it landed between the inside-left’s feet and Gray dashed in to clear, and not long after this Clark stopped Scott just in the nick of time, and from the clearance Brown was going through, only to be stopped by Fuller.  Young lobbed and Beal just failed to get his shot in as Bartaby came out.  It was a close call for Bromley.  Brown ran out to the left wing with the ball, passed in to Holbrook, who sent out to Thomas, who hit the crossbar with the defence drawn.


In the closing minute, with ten Erith men up in the Bromley territory, Brown and Thomas got clean away, but the shot was made hurriedly and wide. 

Result: Bromley 1, Erith and Belvedere 0.


Bromley: PT Bartaby; LG Gray and GH Clark; FP Wade, VJ Weeks and EW Barnes; WG Thomas, AG Stroud, GR Brown, WT Holbrook and SA Reece.

Erith and Belvedere: Albert Gibbs; Joe Little and Pat O’Hara; Cyril Smee, Charlie Fuller and Bert Bennett; George Young, Len Scott, jack Southcombe, Reg Beal and Charlie Saunders.

Referee: JH Lockton.




CIVIC RECEPTION FOR DERES – Enthusiastic gathering at Park View


There were enthusiastic scenes at Park View when the Erith and Belvedere team returned.  Waiting to meet the team were the Chairman of the Erith Council (Councillor WJ Ebben, JP), Councillors GC Humphries, Rev JW Wilkinson, CF Morling, RW Mitchell, SC Grant, WJ Ramsden, WAD Bailey and CC Firmin.  Messrs F Clarke, JP, MP; DS Twigg, AU Fletcher, JH Clayton, EW Reynolds and others.  The club officials were Messrs DC Bowyer (president), OJ Ursell (vice-chairman), G “Dickie” Durrant (hon. financial secretary – the man who took over the lease of the ground and so saved the club) and members of the Supporters Association.  Also present was the Deputy Mayor of Bexley (Alderman GA Bock).


The stand was decorated and illuminated, with floodlights playing on the area roped off in front of it and on the committee box.  The team were led in by Messrs WA Bowles (chairman and team manager), JN Bell (hon secretary) and P O’Hara, and were received by the president before making their way to the box.  With them were nine of the 1923-4 Amateur Cup final team, who had been their guests at The Den: Bob Evans, “Tug” Wilson (alas, on crutches), Albert Marks, Billy Dudley, Billy Swayne, Ernie Gooch, Reg McKee, Harry Yates and Billy Beckford.


Whatever programme had been arranged went by the board in face of the insistence of the crowd, who would not be satisfied until the players had addressed them.  Pat O’Hara expressed regret that Len Scott was not present.  The captain had gone from The Den to Broadcasting House with the Bromley captain.  Pat thanked the crowd for the support they had given the team.  But for that they could not have done what they had.  He promised all would do their best to bring the cup back next year.


Mr OJ Ursell was making the introductions, and after the team had spoken through the “mike” – all except George Young; he was too shy – Billy Bowles introduced the “three heroes” – Tommy Firminger, Reg Leonard and Clem York, who stuck to the club through thick and thin.


Then came the turn of the veterans.  Reg McKee thanked the club for their splendid gesture in giving the old ‘uns the opportunity of seeing the final and of renewing the old comradeship.  Tug Wilson said the crowd had always been sporting throughout the years he played for the Deres and he hoped they always would be so.


Billy Swayne felt sorry the present team had done the same as they did, come off second best, but he admitted the present boys put up a better show and was confident it would not be long before they were in the final again.  “Don’t wait 14 years,” was his parting shot, coupled with the advice to the crowd to be consistent in their support.  The crowd evidently contained very old and staunch supporters, for appropriate reminders had been shouted at the old hands.


When the trainer, George Pleasants, was called forward he was reminded that the first time he met the players was when they beat Charlton Athletic – and he was in goal for Charlton!  It was George’s opinion that “if we keep the same team and you all stick to us, we’ll conquer the world.”


The Chairman of the Council asked “Are we downhearted?”  There was no hesitancy in the answer.  It was wonderful to know that “this great county of Kent produced both finalists.”  On behalf of the whole district he gave the team a hearty welcome back after their strenuous endeavours in a wonderful game, which might well have been drawn.  Through the competition the team had shown wonderful sportsmanship, and had put Erith on the map.  Erith, Belvedere and Abbey Wood were proud of them.  He praised the supporters for sticking to the club and Mr Durrant for his great share.  He took that opportunity of appealing to the district as a whole to support the club better in the future than they had in the past, for they had a team worthy of the district.


Mr Bowyer, on behalf of the club management, thanked the assembly for the wonderful welcome.  It must be satisfactory to know that the team in 11 matches and two replays had given of its best and been congratulated by many excellent judges of football.  The cup was not far away – almost within an arm’s length  - so they should be able to reach out and take it next year.


Councillor Humphreys (Charter-Mayor elect) was termed the “Club Mascot” in recognition of his consistent attendance at the matches – on only two occasions this year have the team lost in his presence.  He, too, urged greater support, for he believed in supporting local football.


The Deputy Mayor of Bexley (Alderman GA Bock) added his congratulations to the team on their wonderful display that day.  He was present at the International at Wembley last week [England 0 Scotland 1], but the Amateur Final at The Den was a much better match from the spectators’ point of view.  He had been amazed at the wonderful team spirit of the Deres, and urged the townspeople to rally round the team, confident that “they will look after you if you look after them” although he uttered the warning that Bexley Heath and Welling also had a football team with ambitions.


Whilst the team and the veterans were enjoying the dinner prepared for them in the club room, the crowd were entertained with music until the broadcast of “In Town tonight” when they heard the two captains speak of the match.


Then more music, and at long last Len Scott arrived back from town.  And what a reception!  He confessed the ordeal then was worse than that at Broadcasting House, for at Park View he had the crowd in front of him – “and there is no announcer to write out what I have to say”. (Laughter.)  Dancing on the green followed whilst the more youthful element of the supporters besieged the players, armed with autograph books and pencils.


And so ended the Deres’ gallant attempt to lift the cup.

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