Witness to County History 1 – The Longest Game!
First …before our delve back into County history and that famous match, a short biog of the author of same…..he was there…..
Back in 2006, I was contacted by a County fan who had what seemed to me a veritable gold mine of historical material relating to County.
Born in 1930 on Booth Street Stockport, Alan Edwards had witnessed the amazing game against Lincoln at Edgeley Park in 1937 which ended what was a promotion season very happily indeed.
More amazing than that…he was at the world renowned `Longest Game’ involving County and Doncaster in 1946 that went on for 203 minutes….the Luton match in 1958 which saw humble old County topple mighty First Division( old money) Town in a thrilling encounter.
Along with other accounts of County games these represented a unique record and thus Alan eventually published thanks to Ian Lancashire and his popular fanzine ` When I Was Young and Lazy’.
Thankfully Alan contacted me again very recently and offered the articles to the Blog and I gratefully accepted.
Despite being an adopted child, Alan prospered thanks to an inbuilt work ethic which saw him move from his first job as a clerk at Simons on Bird Hall Lane to an apprenticeship as a sheet metalworker, and by 1946 he was serving in the Royal Navy having been fire bombed from his home the year previously in a Nazi air raid.
He served 24 years in the Royal Navy rising to Petty Officer- having somehow fitted in a trial for Blackburn Rovers ( he was a left back) and a quality athletics career that saw him clock an impressive 2.19.43 whilst finishing 20th in the prestigious Politechnic Marathon.
Alan also ran many times against John Tarrant the `Ghost Runner’but I guess that`s a story in itself.
For now let`s content ourselves with an account of the epic encounter against Doncaster…..The Longest Game!
— I Woz There —
The Longest Game v Doncaster
30th March, 1946
It was just an ordinary Saturday towards the end of the season. A League Cup North second leg match against Doncaster Rovers. The top four teams in both the East and West sections of the Football League North were given the chance to play for the League Cup. County, at the cut off, were top of the western section and Doncaster top of the eastern.
The first leg had been drawn and the rules for that season were that if the second match did not produce a result, including ten minutes each way of extra time, then the teams would play on until the first goal was scored. There had already been a couple of matches that had been settled in this way.
I had worked until 12 noon as usual; we worked a five and a half-day week in those days. I was a fifteen-year-old apprentice and dashed home from Andrew Machine Co. on Turncroft Lane to my home in Brinnington.
After a quick wash I had my dinner, and it was off to get the tram from Great Portwood Street to Edgeley. I went to the match as usual with my brother in law and we joined the other 13,000 plus spectators. We had managed our normal places in the paddock in front of the main stand near to where the bridge was that the players came across to get to the pitch.
Having said that it wasn`t really an ordinary Saturday. After all the only reason County were still in the game with any chance was that the previous Saturday, according to the report in the Stockport Express, in the first leg Tiger Bowles had played like a man possessed.
With the help of the patron saint of goalkeepers he had somehow managed to keep the score line level and Rovers even managed to miss a penalty.
There was also the spectre of the Bolton disaster, which had occurred only a few weeks previously, hanging over football, especially here in the Northwest. There was even a collection for the disaster fund before this match at Edgeley Park.
So as the days` events unfolded it wasn`t surprising that the ensuing repercussions were felt throughout the town. I mean when a match is due to end around five and it got to be half past six and uneaten teas are still out on tables well mams and wives are bound to worry.
Anyway back to the game. County had a bright enough start and were awarded a penalty in the first five minutes which Shaw converted. But, following this it was Doncaster who went on the rampage and before halftime were leading by two goals to one.
This was a fair reflection of the game. The second half was a different tale with County being the more dominant team. Shaw duly got a second goal and the game should have been sewn up. But no winning goal came during normal time. Twenty minutes of extra time were played and still stalemate.
At the end of extra time the referee took the players off the pitch for whatever reason. We all knew that the match had to go on until there was a score. A fair number of spectators swarmed onto the pitch so clearing it once again when the ref brought the players back out took a bit of time.
The game eventually got restarted and went on and on and on and on ad infinitum. It could have gone either way. Shaw had three attempts, which would normally have been goals, saved. Sammy Weaver should have scored and Les Cocker had the ball in the net only for Mr Baker to see some infringement and disallow it. At the other end Marriott missed a chance that should have put County out but the game went on.
After we`d been playing for days. Well it seemed like that but was about three and a quarter hours the ref started looking at his watch. The fans joked about him looking at how much time he had before the next train back to Crewe. Another wag said, no he`s waiting until we`ve broken the record for the longest match. Well, many a true word is spoken in jest because a few minutes later the final whistle was blown. The official reason for ending the match was BAD LIGHT stopped play. The team captains tossed a coin to see who would stage the replay and County lost the toss. And we all know what happened in that match. A four nil defeat.
So County were in the record books once again to go along with the biggest win in the Football League and other notable records since .
And the repercussions I personally felt from the match.
Well I got clattered round the earhole for not getting the bread from the bakers on my way home from the match (naturally the shop was closed when the match ended) so we had no bread for Sundays breakfast and tea.
And somehow the four bob that I normally got to go to the Saturday night dance at the Town Hall wasn`t forthcoming. So I stayed in and read.
County History – The Longest Game
Witness to County History 1 – The Longest Game!