BOLTON WANDERERS 3 SWANSEA TOWN 0
Saturday 27th March 1926
FA CUP SEMI-FINAL at White Hart Lane
Swansea’s first FA Cup semi-final in their relatively short history, where they would play Bolton Wanderers at White Hart Lane in the capital; after having been the first Welsh club to participate in the First Round proper of the cup. They were the only remaining second division team in the draw, with the other semi-final being contested by the two Manchester clubs, City and United.
The Swans’ progress to the semis saw them see off Exeter City, Watford, Blackpool, Stoke City, Millwall, and most notably Arsenal, a scalp they took 2-1 in the quarter final at the Vetch. The Swans’ progress through the competition didn’t just excite Swansea supporters but football fans from across Wales. An article in the South Wales Daily News on match day with the headline ‘Jacks on the road’ describes the Swans’ fans as they anticipated kick-off and noted that of the 2,300 fans who made the journey supporting Swansea, around 710 of them were from in and around the Cardiff area!
One of the players, Jack Fowler, predicted a ‘Two Goals Win for Swansea’ in the Thursday edition of the Daily News, which showed the confidence of the team in their own ability. In the same article a lot is made of the various superstitions, most notably one of the trainer Ernie Edwards, who would have not risked seeing the match had he been followed by a funeral procession.
The match itself was effectively over as a contest by the 23rd minute, the South Wales Daily Post reported on Monday 29th March, as ‘The Swans never found their form in the Semi-Final’ despite starting as many pundits’ favourites to reach the final’. It goes on to lament the Swans ‘over-anxiety’ and ‘over-confidence’ as Bolton ‘showed up the Swans’ defensive weaknesses’. Bolton opened the scoring through Baggett with a ‘blind shot’ which glanced over the leg of Sykes to give them a fortunate lead. That was swiftly followed by Wanderers’ second (Smith’s first of the game), a cool finish picking his spot to slot the ball into the net.
The final goal was as a result of a penalty afterLangford was adjudged by the referee to have elbowed Smith in the area, but Smith was able to put the spot-kick away. The report concludes by suggesting that the Swans’ tag as pre-match favourites did them no favours as it says that ‘each year the path to Wembley is strewn with the dead bodies of favourites’.
Swansea Town: Denoon, Langford, Milne, Collins, Sykes, McPherson, Hole, Deacon, Fowler, Thompson, Nicholas.
Bolton Wanderers: Pym, Greenhagh, Hawarth, Jennings, Seddon, Nuttall, Vizard, Joe Smith, David Jack, Baggett, Butler
Scorers: (Bolton) Baggett 3’, Smith 17’ 23’
Referee: Mr Arnold Josephs, South Shields
By John Fanning