14 December 1946 Blackpool 0 Middlesbrough 5


Blackpool whacked fore and aft


Blackpool 0, Middlesbrough 5

By “Spectator”

Taking the field for the first time this season without Stanley Mortensen. who has scored a third of the team’s goals, Blackpool played against Middlesbrough this afternoon a forward line led by George Dick, the man from the B.A.O.R.

Middlesbrough put into the game a forward division which seemed to have goals in every position.

The match opened in a dim-out - a drift of rain and a thickening mist - which threatened, even with a 2-15 kick-off to end almost in a blackout.


BLACKPOOL: Wallace, Sibley, Kennedy, Farrow, Hayward, Johnston, Munro, Eastham, Dick, Blair, and McIntosh.

MIDDLESBROUGH: Cumming, Robinson, Stuart, McCabe, Hardwick, Gordon, Spuhler, Murphy, Fenton. Mannion and Walker.

Referee: Mr. H. Berry, of Huddersfield.


Middlesbrough’s fans follow their team everywhere, whatever the weather or the time of the year. Hundreds gave the North Eastern team an excitable reception.

In front of fewer than 12,000 people Blackpool opened with a raid on the north goal which Hardwick repelled after intercepting the second of Dick’s studied passes to his wings.


Kennedy put the brake on Murphy with a grand tackle, and followed it with a confident clearance in one of the few attacks which Middlesbrough produced in the first five minutes.

Immediately, one of Farrow’s long throw-ins - this one the length of a corner kick - won a corner, and when the half-back himself took it Dick headed a ball which Cummings beat cut in a desperate dive to his left.

In the 10th minute of the half Middlesbrough, in a flying breakaway, had a goal disallowed, Fenton delaying his pass so long that when at last it reached Murphy the inside-right was a couple of yards offside as he shot fast and low wide of Wallace.


But ball skids away from Dick

A fast square pass by Munro skidded away from Dick, with the centre-forward almost motionless in the mud and the goal gaping open in front of him.

In the 21st minute Blackpool had a penalty refused which I think should have been granted.

A ball was crossed from a corner won by that composed attacking half-back, Johnston. Dick leaped at it and headed it forward. A full-back appeared to curl himself into its path and hit it out with a lifted hand.

Mr. Berry said “ No,” and gave a corner instead.


From it, after Farrow had again taken it. Dick headed wide of Cumming a ball which the goalkeeper reached as he lurched to his left.

Three minutes later, in the 24th minute of the half, Blackpool should have taken the lead.

The goal was missed after Eastham had raced half the length of the field, served Dick with a pass which the centre-forward should have shot past Cumming as he found himself in an open space instead of giving goalkeeper the chance to reach a shot in a flying dive to his right.

Two minutes later after the corner had been repulsed, Middlesbrough raided and snatched the lead.

Fenton put Walker in possession. Into another of those wide-open spaces in the centre the outside-left crossed the ball.

MANNION was waiting for it, and shot it low and wide of Wallace, as the big Scot fell late clutching vainly at a ball skidding out of his reach.

It was a goal in three fast moves - a good snap goal.


Six minutes later, after Murphy, for the second time in the match had headed an offside goal, Middlesbrough made it 2-0.

This was a goal open to question.

There was a long clearance by Stuart. The ball reached Mick Fenton in a position which seemed so many yards offside that not a Blackpool player moved to him, nor had the time to move as he darted forward with it.

In the end, FENTON seemed surprised himself when Mr. Berry gave him a goal after a ball which seemed to hang in the air had fallen just beneath the bar.


Again Wallace made a sliding clearance in the mud almost on the penalty area line as Spuhler crossed a pass which left Walker with the goalkeeper, completely deserted again, at his mercy.

Yet goals were always inevitable, with Blackpool’s defence often outpaced.

Fenton raced away from Hayward in the thick mud, lured Wallace from his goal, and crossed to SPUHLER a ball which the unmarked outside-right had only to shoot over the empty line.

Half-time: Blackpool 0, Middlesbrough 3.


The Blackpool forwards went all out on their almost impossible task after the teams had taken a rest with the mist lifting.

There was a brief bombardment. In the end. it was a half-back who showed how it should be done, Farrow accepting a loose ball and hitting the bar, with Cumming beaten to the world for the first time during the afternoon.

Immediately the Middlesbrough forwards went racing away from the Blackpool defence, and for the third time in the match had a goal disallowed was Walker walked Fenton’s pass over the line.

The Blackpool forwards were still not out of the game, but when in it were playing attractive football. All it led to repeatedly were shots which would never beat a goalkeeper of Cumming’s class.


Eastham raid nearly brings a goal.

In the end, Eastham had one of those chances which had been offered repeatedly to the Middlesbrough forwards in the first half.

A long lobbed clearance found him all on his own. Everybody waited for the offside whistle. It never went.

On raced Eastham, and with the goalkeeper facing him alone gave Cumming the chance to dive at his feet and lose a ball which eventually Hardwick cleared in front of an open goal. Then, with 20 minutes of the half gone. Middlesbrough raced away in a three-man raid and made it 4-0.

Walker reached the line and crossed a low centre which seemed to skid away from Kennedy and left MURPHY to shoot high into the roof of the net with the unprotected Wallace left alone again.

Within two minutes a ball crossed from a free-kick by Johnston dipped under Middlesbrough’s bar and into the net. But Mr. Berry gave “No goal,” but instead another free kick.


No. 5 came with 15 minutes left. It was almost a comic opera goal.

The Blackpool defence was scattered everywhere, Wallace yards away from his goal and Sibley diving in vain at the ball as SPUHLER shot it over the empty line.



MIDDLESBROUGH 5  (Mannion 26 min, Fenton 32 min, Spuhler 44, 75 mins, Murphy 65 min)


Blackpool’s biggest home defeat for years - a December Waterloo - could be attributed to two causes.

(1) The defence in the first half, and often afterwards, had such a gap between halfbacks and full-backs that for the Middlesbrough forwards goals were cheap and could scarcely have been missed.

(2) The Blackpool forwards had not a marksman among them.

How they missed Stanley Mortensen today.

I question, nevertheless, whether even he could have retrieved this game from the wreck in which an outpaced defence left it even before half-time.

Wallace too often was left to face shooting forwards - and these Middlesbrough men could shoot - all on his own.

Sibley was outside the wholesale collapse, which was caused less by the failure of one or two men than by a series of positional errors.

Johnston, too, could be acquitted yet again. His passes constantly put the Blackpool forwards into the game, but they could not give the line punch.

Munro and Dick never tired of chasing the ball, but there was no man with a scoring shot in the line and the Middlesbrough front division, never delaying a pass, seemed to be yards faster everywhere.

It was all made top easy for the men who won.


Some critics go too far

By “Spectator”


It was not the first time I had heard the comment. There was no complaint or reproach in it. But there was a note of envy.

All the afternoon the City had stormed into the game to a tumult of cheers, which reached a crescendo every time the Blackpool goal was under fire.

It is not likely that it affected the result. Games in the end are won out in the centre and not on the terraces. But its influence on the City was noticeable.

“They never cheer us like that at Blackpool,” I heard another Blackpool player observe.

You know, without advocating partisanship which can see only one team on a football field, there is something in it.

Col. William Parkinson, J.P., who is nothing if not a realist seems to think so.

“Sometimes when I’m watching Blackpool at Bloomfield-road I think I’m away from home,” he told the new Supporters’ Club at its inaugural meeting the other evening.

“Some spectators find every reason to complain, but never a reason to praise.”

That is talking in general terms. The Blackpool Football public has shown a loyalty to the club which in all the ups-and downs of its career has been beyond reproach.

If loyalty expresses itself only in terms of £ s. d., if it can be assessed only at the turnstiles, Blackpool have no cause for lamentation.

It has to be recognised too, that Blackpool’s population is cosmopolitan, that thousands of people who go to watch the team still have a sentimental affection for the clubs of their hometowns.

Nobody’s blaming them for that. I find something to admire in it. But, inevitably, it affects their attitude to Blackpool football, makes it more impersonal than otherwise it might be.

BUT there is a difference between this semi-impartiality and the carping criticism which masquerades as impartiality and is as bogus as it is uncharitable.

It was, I suspect, against this minority, not peculiar to Blackpool, that Col. Parkinson’s criticism was directed.

He was entitled to complain about these pseudo-experts.

They have been playing the team down and particular players in it all the season. I have never pretended, even during those two months when Blackpool led the League, that Blackpool had a championship team.

Before the season it was my opinion - and I expressed it in this column - that, according to all reasonable forecasts, Blackpool would be more concerned with relegation than with League titles.

I was proved wrong - and was glad to admit it - by a team which whatever its other limitations has given everything which is in it in every match and revealed that there was a lot more in it, often in the football sense, than most folk imagined.

Won't admit it

I WAS wrong -and admitted it. The any-team-but-Blackpool school were wrong  - and have never admitted it.

They have made great capital out of the fact that seven out of the 11 games won by Blackpool have been decided by the odd goal, conveniently forgetting that three out of the seven which have been lost have been lost by the odd goal.

They say that Blackpool have had all the breaks, anyway, forgetting as conveniently that few teams have been so hit by casualties, that at Portsmouth, Brentford, Derby and Stoke the team finished games below strength and with key men crippled.

Jottings from all parts 

BY "SPECTATOR" 14 December 1946

Jock scored all four

THE last time Middlesbrough came to Blackpool for a First Division match on April 15th, 1939, a record was established which is intact today.

The visitors were defeated 4-0, which was a reprisal for a 9-2 defeat of Blackpool at Ayresome Park earlier in the season. But it was not the score which made the news - but the man who made the score who qualified for the headlines.

For Blackpool's four goals were shot by one man, Jock Dodds, who became the first and is still the only Blackpool player to score four goals in a First Division match.

The Blackpool team was: Wallace, Blair (D), Park, Farrow, Hayward, Johnston, Finan, Astley, Dodds, Buchan and O’Donnell.

A GOOD Press up in the North-East for Dick Burke, the full, back from Blackpool, after his first game for Newcastle United last weekend: Here are a few extracts:

“Sunday Sun” Clean and constructive kicking featured his play. Had a sound debut.

“Newcastle Chronicle" Emerged with credit from his first game.

“Football Echo”  There is great confidence that he will supply the required steadiness in defence.


THEY will talk in the Potteries for years about Stanley Matthews’ miracle goal against Blackpool.

It was only his second goal of the season. This master forward, who, whatever they say at Preston, must still be the world’s No. 1 outside-right, shoots few goals, and, on his own admission, has never shot such a one as that wonder last weekend.

But how many does he make for the other forwards?

Why in one Blackpool wartime team, when the front line shot 140 in a season, his contribution to the list was exactly two!


THE Stoke front-line which shot four goals against Blackpool last weekend had scored only six in its last seven games.

There’s a moral in that somewhere.


LAST time I saw a player ordered off a field in a Blackpool match before the unfortunate incident at Stoke was in an a Sunderland game 10 or 12 years ago. That time it was a Sunderland forward who was given marching orders.

There was a case in wartime football of a player who shall be nameless but who was not unknown in Blackpool.

"Want to go off the field?” warned the referee. “I don’t mind,” said the player, “ it’s a lousy game, anyway.”

“ Off you go then,” said the referee - and he went.


I HEAR that Blackpool have been over the Border again watching Jack Oakes, the Queen of the South outside-right.


WHO discovered Harry Johnston, Blackpool’s captain and new England half-back? Manager Joe Smith has cultivated his latent talent, made him into an international.

But, as the Blackpool chief will tell you, it was on a report from Droylsden that he signed the wing-half - and the report came from Mr. W. Willett, who in those days was attached to Droylsden Athletic and is today an official of Carleton Bowling Club.

It was on his recommendation too, that Blackpool signed Jim McIntosh. His was the first congratulatory message to reach Johnston after his selection and it was to him that Harry wrote his first “Thank you.”


THEY were telling me in Stoke that Port Vale still think that Jim Todd, the Blackpool half-back, was a bargain at £1.000.

He has not been out of the Vale’s first team since his transfer. He is still flat-out the whole 90 minutes in every match. He is not yet a class half-back, but he will play to the last second every time

In Third Division football he ranks as a star. One day, for he’s willing to learn, he may be one of the games stars.


NEXT TUESDAY, Wednesday  and Thursday, the two brothers who have made fame - and in one case, at least a fortune - on the billiards table. Joe and Fred Davis, will be playing a snooker match at the Tower Circus on behalf of the new Blackpool F.C. Supporters’ Club.

It will not be an exhibition, either. When these two meet they give nothing away.


So Hugh O’Donnell is on the  transfer list. I am not surprised. He had asked twice for a transfer earlier in the season.

When, after playing at Leeds three weeks ago, he was selected again for the second team, I knew he would ask again.

Some club is going to sign a left-wing forward who should still have years of football in him. I have not forgotten that he shot 18 goals for Blackpool last season - a total which few wing-forwards reach in a football year.

This outside-left has one distinction which few players will ever achieve.

He played twice in successive years at Wembley in Cup Finals  - in the Preston team that lost to Sunderland in 1937 and in the team that defeated Huddersfield in 1938.


THEY think a lot of Eric Hayward in the Potteries, gave him a cheer all to himself when he took the field at Stoke last weekend.

It was from Port Vale that Blackpool signed him for a fee which could be multiplied by four or five if he were in the market today.

Blackpool’s one regret is that his brother, Basil, was not signed this season. They say that one day he will be his brother’s equal.


BLACKPOOL will go into the drum with the rest of the First and Second Division clubs for the Third Round of the Cup on Monday.

Don't telephone to ask, “Who are they playing?" The draw will be on the streets within minutes of news reaching the office.


WHEN Stanley Mortensen was crippled at Stoke it was the first time he had ever pulled a muscle while playing football.

He was repeatedly in the wars when he was an inside-right. But this is the first time that he has been disabled since he became a centre-forward. He has always said - contrary to general opinion  - that you take less punishment in the centre.

When he was hurt at Stoke there was not a player near him, It was in almost similar circumstances that Willie Buchan came to grief at Derby.


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