Today, we’re taking in two games that were played on this date in contrasting eras which produced contrasting outcomes.
In what was their inaugural season, Halifax Town contested their first-ever cup final when they took on Mirfield United in the West Riding Junior Cup on 13 April 1912, the match being staged at the Dewsbury & Savile ground.
Joe McClelland’s Town side had had an interesting first season playing in the Yorkshire Combination, recovering from losing their first match 6-2 at Bradford City Reserves and being beaten in their first home match at Sandhall Lane by Scarborough to lead the table just after Christmas. But they fell away in the second half of the season and eventually finished seventh. However, they had rallied in the West Riding Junior Cup, although their route to the final was an arduous one and far from straight forward. A replay had been required to see off Stourton United in the third round, the stage at which Town had entered, and after two Tom Farrar goals had been enough to defeat Thornhill Lees Albion, a third game at neutral Valley Parade had been needed before Jock Nixon’s goal ended the hopes of Knaresborough. In the semi-final at Bradford’s Park Avenue, Town played out a classic with Lancashire Combination side Barnoldswick United and clung onto a 2-1 lead to reach the final where they faced fellow Yorkshire Combination side Mirfield United, the cup holders. In an effort to give themselves their best chance, Town had fielded a virtual reserve side for the match with West Vale Ramblers just two days before the final, though in the event, the rest hardly served the players well. Their performance in the 2-0 defeat at the hands of Mirfield was generally regarded as their worst of the season, with the Halifax Courier reporter Tom Dickinson going so far as to describe it as ‘funereal’. None of the players did themselves justice, with even the normally unflappable goalkeeper Charlie Sutcliffe (pictured), signed from Heckmondwike the previous December and who would go on to win an FA Cup winners’ medal with Sheffield United, culpable for the first goal scored by Moon, allowing his speculative long range effort to slip through his hands. That goal gave Mirfield a first-half lead, and when Drake added a second after the interval it was no more than they deserved. In Town’s team that day was Harry Potter, later to be killed in action in Moray, France on 22 March 1918 during the First World War, whilst Mirfield’s right-back was Donald Bell, regarded as the best player on the day and who later played for Bradford, would be distinguished with the Victoria Cross for gallantry shown at Horsehoe Trench on the Somme on 5 July 1916. He would lose his life five days later. Town keeper Charlie Sutcliffe was booked on the Titanic, set to sail from Southampton two days after this match, but would fail to embark.
Halifax Town: Sutcliffe, Firth, Baxter, Potter, Leyland, Redding, Nixon, Wild, Chadbourne, Fyfe, Culpan.
Mirfield United: Felstead, Bell, Trenham, Stevenson, Moxon, Hooton, Doggart, Stacey, Carter, Hancox, Drake.
Referee: Wilfred Denton (Carlton).
George Mulhall’s Halifax Town side were a massive thirteen points clear at the top of the Conference and protecting an unbeaten home record when they hosted mid-table Southport on Easter Monday, 13 April 1998. But the visitors threatened to throw a spanner in the works, even after Jamie Paterson had pounced with a header in the 43rd minute to give the Shaymen the lead. Brian Rose made the most of defensive hesitancy to stab the ball home in the 49th minute to equalise, although when Kevin Hulme headed in Paterson’s cross less than sixty seconds later it looked as if parity had been restored. However, the game changed on the hour mark when Kieran O’Regan was dismissed for retaliation after clashing with Tim Ryan. Southport substitute Justin O’Reilly, who had entered the fray after 64 minutes, made an immediate impact by scoring twice in the 67th and 69th minutes to give the visitors a 3-2 lead. But Dave Hanson, who had replaced Paul Stoneman, swung the game back in Town’s favour, firstly with a looping header from Paterson’s left wing cross in the 82nd minute (pictured), then grabbing the winner two minutes later when he forced home from close range after Geoff Horsfield had swung a foot at Andy Thackeray’s through ball and missed it.
Town’s victory maintained their grip at the top of the table and meant that a win in their next match at Kidderminster Harriers would see them clinch the title and with it promotion back to the Football League. Mulhall’s side duly obliged, of course. Teams;
Halifax Town: Rhodes, Thackeray, Bradshaw, Murphy, Kilcline, Stoneman (Hanson 72 mins), Paterson, Hulme, O’Regan, Horsfield, Brown.
Southport: Stewart, Farley, Ryan, Horner, Bolland, Futcher (O’Reilly 64), Thompson (Jones 74), Butler, Ross (Gamble 77), Morris, Formby.
Referee: Peter Eastwood (Manchester).
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