23 November 1946 Leeds United 4 Blackpool 2


Leeds, faster, earn their win


Leeds United 4, Blackpool 2

By “Spectator”

LEEDS UNITED had to field a second reserve goal keeper for the visit of Blackpool to Leeds this afternoon.

Blackpool took the field and it was a field which threatened soon to turn into thick mud - with a shuffled team which included the famous prewar half-back line and a forward division which included only George Eastham in the position where he played a week ago.

Rain and winter wind reduced the attendance to fewer than 12,000.

Leeds is a city which has escaped the football boom. The game still seems to be in the doldrums in these parts.

This is a ground of grim memories for Blackpool.

It was at Elland-road last February that Middlesbrough won a long distance Cup-tie with a disputed penalty goal.


LEEDS UNITED: Twomey, Goldsberg, Gadsby,  Henry, Holley, Brown, Cochrane, Powell, Ainsley, Short, and Grainger.

BLACKPOOL: Wallace, Sibley, Lewis, Farrow, Hayward, Johnston, Blair, Mortensen, McIntosh, Eastham and O’Donnell.

Referee: Mr D Schofield (Oldham).


George Ainsley, the first of Blackpool's wartime captains, shook hands with half the Blackpool team as the teams lined up.

In the first half-minute Mortensen headed O’Donnell’s deliberate centre low into the arms of Twomey who, I hear, as for all practical purposes retired from the game and was playing for United today because there was not another man left for the position.

There was not a lot in it in the opening minutes, even if once Mortensen raced a quarter of the field’s length in a solo raid.

There were ominously big gaps in Leeds defence. Through one of them Johnston shot a pass from O’Donnell over the bar.

There was a big gap, too out on the right flank of Blackpool’s defence once or twice.


Hayward crossed fast to close it before Twomey raced out 20 yards to snatch a long forward pass away from Eastham.

Mortensen ran back to the aid of his defence when Ainsley chased a loose ball down the centre of a Blackpool defence which was compact and firm in its centre in the first 10 minutes.

All that time both front lines waited in vain for a definite scoring chance. When it came it was presented to Henry by Cochrane, an elusive little forward.

The inside-right, Powell, shot straight at the crouching Wallace when he might have given Leeds the lead which the United had been constantly threatening to snatch for 15 minutes.

Hayward cleared everything in the air, even against the 6ft. Ainsley.

There were otherwise few signs that this experimental Blackpool team had evolved a working plan.

In spurts it was good, but only in spurts.


Offside halts Blackpool movement

When at last McIntosh and O'Donnell created some sort of position for Eastham, the offside whistle halted the inside-left.

The first 20 minutes had contained scarcely one major incident. At last a big chance came, and it was missed.

The Blackpool defence was nearly in chaos.

Sibley sliced a clearance. Out skidded the ball to Powell, who, standing yards offside and put unexpectedly into play, was so surprised that he shot the ball high over the bar, with Wallace at his mercy. 

It made no difference. 

In the 21st minute the United took the lead, and deserved it. It was the goal of an opportunist. 

There had been a raid on the right, which Blackpool's defence seemed unable to clear. 


The ball came loose to POWELL, who hit it. It was a speculative sort of shot from 20 yards out, but it counted, Wallace falling full length to his right to a ball which skidded away from him an inch inside the far post. 

The Blackpool forwards came into the game at last after that goal. 

Inside a minute, O’Donnell catapulted into the net in a vain dive at a high ball crossed by Farrow before Mortensen took a pass from McIntosh and shot a ball which cannoned off a Leeds full-back for Blackpool’s second corner of the game. 

In nearly every position United were still moving faster to the ball. In a lot of football which had plenty of pace in it but nothing distinctive United still deserved to be in front with nearly half an hour gone. 

Yet after a couple of fine clearances by Lewis, the Blackpool forwards at last produced a picture raid on the left which ended in Mortensen shooting into Twomey’s arms. 


Other raids followed, but few of them led anywhere. 

Out on the right Blair could make no progress as a wing forward. 

In the 32nd minute the crowd, which had rapidly increased to nearly 25,000, were cheering another goal, but this time Mr. Schofield said “No,” as Powell chased a pass into a big gap and shot past Wallace at his leisure. 

A minute later United had an escape as Holley hurled himself into the path of a pass from McIntosh which would have given Mortensen an open goal. 

The Blackpool front line was often in the game afterwards, but there seemed little punch at close quarters. 

In a breakaway the United nearly made it 2-0. 

Short shot a ball which Wallace beat out in mid-air as he fell to his left. A minute later, the big Scot made another fine clearance as Ainsley, from Grainger’s made-to-measure centre, headed wide from close range. 

Leeds attacks, with infrequent Blackpool breakaways, formed the story of the rest of the half. 

There had been few signs at that time that the big forward shuffle had come off. Leeds we re entitled to the interval lead. 

Half-time: Leeds United 1, Blackpool 0. 


Facing wind and rain in the second half, the odds were high but not impossible against Blackpool.

The Blackpool forwards retained their first-half formation. 

Hayward made a desperate sliding tackle at the feet of Cochrane as the wing forward closed in fast to a scoring position in the first two minutes of this half. 

Half a minute later it was 2-0. A great goal it was, too. 

A backward pass by Eastham missed its man, putting United’s right wing in possession, and the ball was crossed into the centre. 

AINSLEY was waiting for it, and shot it as it reached him 25 yards out - shot it so fast and low that it was in the net, with Wallace still falling to it. 

That released a desperate raid by Blackpool in which the Leeds goal escaped twice with Twomey far away from home,


O’Donnell goes into the centre 

Another raid followed and won corner. Inevitably, too, the forward line had been shuffled, O’Donnell moving into the centre with McIntosh on the wing. 

For minutes afterwards this forward force had a pace and derision in it such as had never earlier been revealed. One attack after another battled with the Leeds defence.

Mortensen shot into Twomey’s arms after Blair had run half the length of the field to give him a pass. 

When the Leeds forwards escaped again it required another grand tackle by Hayward to halt Grainger after the wing forward had raced away from his fullback once more. 

Still Blackpool at last were after goals now, and should have reduced the lead in the 15th minute of the half as the ball skidded away twice from men who were waiting nearly under the bar to walk it over the line.

A goal was deserved. It came, with the pressure continuing, in the 17th minute of the half as McIntosh, sent away by one of those long crossfield passes which had been too seldom introduced by Blackpool, crossed a centre which O’DONNELL shot past Twomey as he stood half a yard from the far post. 


A chance offered itself, after that, to snatch a point. Blackpool were all out after it. 

Twomey made a grand punched clearance as Mortensen closed in on goal and shot at full gallop. Not that Leeds were subdued.

Ainsley hooked a shot over the bar of an empty goal before, in another Blackpool advance, Farrow shot wide.

Now Mortensen was at centre-forward, with O’Donnell at inside-right.

Two corners followed this second move.

Twenty minutes were left and there was still a chance in another of those bids against odds which have become Blackpool’s specialities.

In another Leeds breakaway Wallace made a flying save from Cochrane at the cost of a corner.

Yet after all this Blackpool pressure the match was settled 12 minutes from time, as POWELL shot No. 3 for Leeds from Short’s pass after the right flank of Blackpool’s defence had been left trailing.

It was nearly all Leeds afterwards. Five minutes from rime, AINSLEY increased the lead with Blackpool almost completely out of it.

Even then, it was not all over, for with three minutes left MORTENSEN headed a grand goal from Johnson’s pass.


LEEDS UNITED 4 (Powell 21, 80min, Ainsley 48, 85min)

BLACKPOOL 2  (O'Donnell 62min, Mortensen 87min)


It took the Blackpool forwards nearly an hour to begin to play the sort of football which wins matches.

When at last they began to play it, it was too late. Again, all that was left to report was another defiant but vain bid to retrieve a desperate position.

The forward shuffle was not a success. Until the shuffle was reshuffled there was little punch or order in the line.

The defence, too, had gaps repeatedly on the wings, for the full-backs could seldom put a brake to fast wing forwards.

In the centre there were no wide open spaces.

Hayward had a triumph on his restoration to First Division football.

The forwards were only a shadow of the line they have been.

This was Blackpool’s third successive defeat.

The gamble did not come off. Again, all the football was too close. That probably was the chief cause of it all.



By “Spectator”


No secret is betrayed today if I disclose information which was on the hush-hush list at a time when there was a prospect, however remote, that George Eastham might solve a problem which has beset Blackpool's team selectors for a couple of years.


Blackpool bid for stars

BEFORE the season opened in England a bid had been made for Gordon Smith, the Hibernians outside-right - a  bid that would have secured the best player on earth 10 or 15 years ago before the transfer market became inflated.

The Hibernians were not interested. Money, they seemed to think in common with the crooners, is the root of all evil. To Blackpool they said “ Take it away .... take it away.”

They still think at Blackpool that this fast, direct forward is the solution to Problem No. 1 at Bloomfield-road. 

But money cannot yet buy Gordon Smith— and it may never be able to buy him.

Another bid

IN recent weeks interest - and another big offer - has been made for Queen of the South’s Jack Oakes, another Scottish outside-right. Something might happen yet, for this is not one of those clubs which can afford to say “No” indefinitely to a four-figure cheque.

A month ago, too, at the height of the Stanley Matthews hullabaloo, Blackpool definitely approached Stoke for the England forward, and when Stoke said, “He’s not in the market - and never will be,” a bid was made for his understudy George Mountford.

Again the City said, “No.”

They have been on the hunt north, south, east and west ever since. Always they end in a blind-alley, and the sign at the end of the alley is “Not for sale"

Fantastic prices

"WE will spend if we can find the men - and the men are for sale,” said Manager Joe Smith when I saw him this week.

Prices, admittedly, are fantastic. A Third Division club, Notts County, at a time when all Third Division clubs are supposed to be on the verge of bankruptcy, made an offer of £8,000 for Jock Dodds a day before he went to Everton.

Yet high prices alone will not put Blackpool out of the market.

If they can find the right men - they are not limiting the search to one position - they will pay.

Johnston honoured

NEWS of the week in Blackpool is the selection of Harry Johnston for England in the Holland match at Huddersfield on Wednesday.

I have been writing for months that he was an England player in everything except name. Now, I think, he will remain in the position, will become Joe Mercer the Second, an automatic selection.

He has to play for his country only as he has played in match after match for Blackpool this season to become an institution in international football.

Everybody will say, “Good luck, Harry.” He’s the sort of professional who adorns football on and off the field.

Jottings from all parts 

BY "SPECTATOR" 23 November 1946

Elland-road memory

THE last time Blackpool visited Leeds for a First Division match there was a goal famine in the land. Not even the signing of Jock Dodds a month earlier had ended it.

Five goals only had been scored in five games - and the old familiar relegation clouds were thick in the sky when the team went to Elland-road on March 15th, 1939. They were thicker than ever after the match.

Blackpool were beaten 1-0. The winning goal was shot by an unknown 18-years-old wing forward called Dave Cochrane, who is no longer unknown.

In Blackpool's colours 

Roxburgh, Blair (D.), Butler; Farrow, Hayward, Johnston, Munro, Buchan (W.), Dodds, Astley and O’Donnell.

Not even three days at Harrogate before the match made any difference!


BLACKPOOL’S longest sequence ever without losing a home point in the First Division came to an end on Saturday.

It should be entered on the records - for it may be a long time before it happens again.

This is it:

Brentford 4-2, Wolves 2-0, Aston Villa 1-0, Portsmouth 4-3, Arsenal 2-1, Manchester United 3-1, Chelsea 1-0.

That gives a goal aggregate for the seven games of 17 goals against seven - and 14 points out of 14.

They ought to frame this!


T W. JONES, the former Blackpool forward - a £3,000 or £4,000 signing when he came to the club from Burnley - is out of Grimsby Town’s first team at present.

As those inside forwards played in the last half-hour at Blackpool it may be a long time before he is in it again.


LETTER after letter in the  postbag this week agrees that the short pass will have to be eliminated from Blackpool’s game on these present mudcaked grounds.

Several correspondents become amateur team-selectors and nominate their own teams. This is one from North Shore: Wallace, Sibley, Kennedy, Farrow, Suart, Johnston, Munro, Eastham, McKnight, Mortensen and O’Donnell.


GRIMSBY TOWN’S quarters at Blackpool last weekend were at Stanley Matthews’ hotel on the Promenade.

The England forward and Jock Dodds, too, expect that several teams will be among their winter clientele this season.


EVERY week I am hearing good reports of the Central League games at Blackpool. It’s a long time since Blackpool had such a strong second team.

Not everybody behind the scenes approves of the experiment, but I am told that Johnny Crosland promises to make a grand full-back.

That was my impression when I saw him in the recent Lancashire Cup-tie at Liverpool.

A centre-forward? Well, I don’t know about that.


RONNIE SUART, the Blackpool centre-half, has this distinction: He was the first centre - half to eliminate Tom Blenkinsopp, Grimsby’s new centre-forward, from the list of marksmen in a match since this right halfback was given his present position in the Town’s frontline.

Six goals in four games was Blenkinsopp’s record before the Blackpool match. He has been at Grimsby since before the war, offered to play at centre-forward, but said: “I don’t know what I’ll do there.”


IT was a nice compliment to make Eric Sibley Blackpool’s captain last weekend for the first time ever.

If you had been told a few months ago that this full-back from Bournemouth who cost Blackpool only £1,000 before the war would captain the team in the first post-war season few people would have even listened to you.

Nearly everybody said his days in first-class football were over. He had other ideas. There is not a player in the present-day game who has made such a come-back.


GEORGE AINSLEY, who led the Leeds' forwards against Blackpool this afternoon, was one of Blackpool’s first wartime captains.

A great sportsman is this 6ft. centre-forward. When, early in the war, at a time when Blackpool’s teams were R.A.F. sides, chosen by a panel of Service officers he went to his C.O. one day, and said, “I’m off my game sir; leave me out on Saturday."

Few men have ever asked to be omitted from a team.


STANLEY MORTENSEN scored his 10th goal of the season at Blackpool last weekend. He is the first Blackpool forward in double figures, has shot his goals in 16 games, has yet to score more than one in a game.

Last season his total for 16 games was 16 goals, including four at Bury in the first match of the season, and three against Sheffield Wednesday in November.

But that was not First Division football!


UNLUCKIEST player last weekend to miss the scoring list was Wallbanks, the Grimsby Town outside-right, who, a split second after the referee’s whistle had gone at Blackpool for a foul on one of his own men, shot the ball into the net of the south goal.

Recruited from Aberdeen, this wing forward is one of four brothers who have made a name in football. One is at Fulham now, and another at Reading. A third was once famous on Barnsley’s right wing.


MET Bob Finan last weekend. He is another of those cartilage casualties who are taking a long time to settle down in the game again.

“I know I’m fit now - and yet there’s something, that little extra bit of snap, missing all the time,” he confessed.

Yet I’ve still plenty of faith in this Scot, who has given great service to Blackpool. Once his self - confidence is restored he’ll come back again.


WHEN Harry Johnston, the Blackpool captain, takes the field with England against Holland at Huddersfield on Wednesday, he will be the first Blackpool player to wear his country’s jersey in peacetime football since Jimmy Hampson played against Austria at Stamford Bridge in 1932.

Those were the days - and it is good for football that they have gone - when often the status of a player’s club influenced selections for England’s team.

The Blackpool centre-forward scored two of England’s four goals in a 4-3 defeat of the visitors. Two years earlier he had played against Ireland and scored once and against Wales and scored twice.

HE had, too, a record for the Football League in inter-League games which no centre-forward has ever since equalled. Four games he played for the League between 1930 and 1932. In every game he scored.

His total for the four games was nine goals.

Yet after that match against the Austrians in London he never appeared in another representative match.

Harry Johnston can enter on his England career knowing that if he plays a good game he will remain in the team. The old snobocracy is as dead as the dodo now.



EIGHTEEN hundred ground tickets for the all-ticket match between Blackpool and Blackburn Rovers on Boxing Day were sold at Bloomfield-road on Saturday before, during and after the Central League match, writes “Spectator.”

Seventeen thousand are for sale at the ground.

I am told that stand tickets will probably be on sale for the first time at the Central League game on Saturday week to enable the club’s own followers to be given first chance of them.

No bookings are being accepted by telephone.

WHEN one of the “Evening Gazette ” photographers visited the Blackpool F.C. ground early in August, 1937, a day after the professionals had reported for training, he approached Mr. Joe Smith, the Blackpool manager, and asked him, “Have you two promising young players who would make a picture?”

The Blackpool manager went into the dressing-room, called, “Harry” “Jim,” and out for a photograph came two young recruits whose names were unknown in the game.

One was called Jim Blair, the other Harry Johnston. A photograph was taken of them afterwards listening to one of their first lessons from the man who has always had faith in them.

“If these two don’t make good in the game, I know nothing about it,” said Mr. Smith that afternoon nine years ago. Everybody knows what has happened.

One of them, Johnston, plays his first game for England against Holland at Huddersfield on Wednesday. The other, Blair, had his first game for Scotland last month.

Yes. Mr. Smith can pick them out.

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