DAYLIGHT ROBBERY – 1943 STYLE
Falkirk fans felt most aggrieved at the 1997 Scottish Cup Final against Kilmarnock at Ibrox, when referee Hugh Dallas ruled out what looked like a valid equaliser from Neil Oliver on the say-so of linesman Sandy Roy. Those at the game refused to believe it, and it seemed that referee Dallas was also far from convinced. In video highlights of the game, he can be seen running back to the centre circle when a buzzer goes off on his arm. He is clearly to be seen mouthing the words, “Are you sure?” towards the linesman. Later, with the benefits of modern technology, journalist and Falkirk fan Gordon Waddell, “proved” the goal was not offside and should have stood. That feeling of frustration pales into insignificance when compared to the events of May 8th.1943. Falkirk were at Hampden Park to face the all-conquering Rangers side in the final of the Southern League Cup.
The Southern League Cup was a regional competition held during the Second World War due to the suspension of the national competitions. It was held between 1940 and 1946 and was played in a format similar to that later used for the League Cup- four groups of four with the group winners forming the semi-finals. In the final season 1945/46, due to the inclusion of teams from the Northern and Eastern parts of the country, the competition doubled in size with quarter-finals for the eight group winners.
Rangers dominated the tournament, appearing in every final and winning four out of the six. They were fortunate that the bulk of their strong pre-war side were stationed locally.
Falkirk’s record in the competition was a mixed one, with the highlight being in 1942/43. They were in Group A and won the section by one point from Albion Rovers. They faced Third Lanark in the semi-final after the Hi-Hi had topped their section B. Rangers faced Hamilton in the other semi-final.
Saturday April 24th. 1943
THIRD LANARK 1 FALKIRK 3
( Carabine) ( Inglis 2, Dawson)
Falkirk progressed to their first final since 1913 and deserved this win over the side that had knocked them out of the Scottish Cup at this same stage back in 1936. Man of the Match was undoubtedly Kenny Dawson who ran International full-back Jimmy Carabine ragged and sent over wave after wave of crosses for his fellow forwards. Carabine had no answer to Dawson, who rounded him on several occasions. It was Dawson who set up JIMMY INGLIS to open the scoring after 26 minutes. Young Inglis was not overawed by the occasion and he added a second goal in 42 minutes from an Ogilvie cross. Falkirk led 2-0 at the break and were by far the better side. KENNY DAWSON ended the game as a contest in 49 minutes when he added a third- a typical Dawson thunderbolt.
Thirds were well beaten and in desperation they moved Carabine to inside right for the closing stages. JIMMY CARABINE scored a late goal, but it was little more than a consolation. Even a last- minute penalty kick from Jones was saved by Falkirk keeper Matthews and it was Falkirk who went into the Final to face Rangers, who had beaten Hamilton 3-0 in the other semi-final.
THIRD LANARK: McBride, Carabine, Rennie, Blair, Currie, Kelly, Jess, Frazer, Connor, Jones, Cairns.
FALKIRK: Matthews, White, Peat, Busby, Shankly, Murray, Ogilvie, Campbell, Inglis, Fitzsimmons, Dawson.
The final was played on May 8th. 1943 and only 18,000 were at the game .It is difficult to imagine the scene at the end of the match. Falkirk players looked absolutely dumbfounded as the Chairman of the Association, Mr.Bowie walked on to the park to present the trophy to Rangers. Captain Bob Shankly and his players had expected extra time to be played and were in fact banking on a period of 30 minutes to see off their opponents.Falkirk seemed the fitter side in the closing stages, and looked capable of raising their game for the extended period .Rangers were awarded the Cup on the basis of having won 11 corners to Falkirk’s 3. Even penalty kicks seem a better system than counting corners.
Saturday May 8th. 1943
RANGERS 1 FALKIRK 1
Attendance: 18,000 Referee: R.Calder
Rangers led 1-0 at half-time through a TORRY GILLICK strike three minutes before the break and Falkirk’s heroes had all been in defence. Matthews was in inspirational form between the posts and Bob Shankly marshalled the rearguard well. It wasn’t all one-way traffic by any means, and young Jimmy Inglis was giving George Young a hard time of it.
It was JIMMY INGLIS who scored the equaliser in 50 minutes, after Ogilvie had outpaced Shaw, and Falkirk gradually came more into the match. Harry Pinkerton made a welcome return to Falkirk colours and did well in the absence of Murray. Kenny Dawson and Duncan Ogilvie had chances to win the game. Doc Fitzsimmons watched as his shot beat Jerry Dawson but rolled inches past the post. Fitzsimmons had put in a powerful display and he was the pick of the forwards. The last chance of the game fell to Ogilvie in the closing stages. A brilliant cross from Dawson reached Ogilvie, but he hesitated too long. Referee Calder blew for time up, and Falkirk prepared to face extra time. Matthews’s display of goalkeeping was excellent and if ever a player deserved a winners’ medal it was the Bairns’ goalie.
RANGERS: Dawson, Gray, Shaw, Little, Young, Symon, Waddell, Duncanson, Gillick, Venters, Johnstone.
FALKIRK:Matthews, White, Peat, Pinkerton, Shankly, Busby, Ogilvie, Campbell, Inglis, Fitzsimmons, Dawson.
It is difficult to imagine the scene at the end of the match. Falkirk players were sitting down on the pitch and ready to have a quick rub down before facing extra time. The Bairns fans felt their side were still in the game and had given Rangers a real run for their money. Then amidst scenes of absolute chaos, the Chairman of the Association, Mr.Bowie walked on to the park carrying the cup and proceeded to present the trophy to Rangers. Captain Bob Shankly and his players had expected extra time to be played and were in fact banking on a period of 30 minutes to see off their opponents. Falkirk had seemed the fitter side in the closing stages and looked capable of raising their game for the extended period. Rangers were awarded the Cup on the basis of having won 11 corners to Falkirk’s 3. Even penalty kicks seem a better system than counting corners. Falkirk fans felt cheated and left Hampden in an angry mood. Their team had faced up to the strongest side in the country and deserved to have another chance of success. The 1941 Final between Rangers and Hearts had gone to a replay and everyone- except the officials- thought that this would the case again in 1943.
The following year saw a case of what goes round, comes around. The 1944 Final between Hibs and Rangers ended 0-0 after ninety minutes and Hibs won 6-5 on corners. In another final- the Summer Cup, they lost again to Hibs by the toss of a coin, after the teams were level on goals and corners.
N.B. Wartime Football was quite unusual with guest players, air-raid wardens on the roofs of stands, clubs going out of business, teams turning up short of players- and some amazing score-lines. It is often overlooked, classed as “unofficial,” and this is unfair on those who played. Falkirk were a really strong side on the eve of the war and during the 1939-1945 period had some great players and some amazing results. The book “Eleven Half-Decent Players and a Bus” tells the story of Falkirk F.C. during the war.