Early drama and chances for South Shields in cup drama

A South Shields team group from the cup run season.
A South Shields team group from the cup run season.

Today we continue the ‘Boy’s Own’ heroics of South Shields FC when they took on the big-money glamour team QPR in the third round of the FA Cup back in 1970.

Thanks to club stalwart Bob Wray we can relive the match through the words of Gazette reporter Dick Kirkup who was at Loftus Road to see Shields give the likes of Rodney Marsh and Terry Venables a real run for their money.

Here’s how the game kicked off:

“Shields, playing in amber shirts, blue shorts and amber socks, had a scare in the fifth minute when Bridges sent Marsh away down the left,” reported Kirkup.

“The inside-left sent in a low cross to the near post and Garrow went down, lost possession, Bridges hit the rebound against the goalkeeper’s body and Potter finally hooked the ball clear.

“Then Garrow saved brilliantly a header from Marsh, but he slumped to the ground clutching his right hand, injured in the collision with Bridges.

“Trainer Billy Anderson was called on and the injury looked serious. It looked from this range that he had a fracture in one or more of his fingers, but he flatly refused to leave the field.

“Eventually he was led, although he resisted all the way, behind the goal, where a doctor appeared to be trying to treat the injury on the spot.

“Garrow was in considerable pain, but substitute Graham was waved back from the trainer’s box by the Shields players.

“Garrow then ran to the dressing room and Len Smith took over in goal.

“This was the cruellest possible luck for Shields, but they bravely continued with 10 men in the hope that Garrow would return.

“In the tenth minute, after Marsh had fired a foot wide from 12 yards, Garrow came back to a great cheer from the crowd.

“He resumed in goal and Smith moved back into the attack. Garrow wore gloves and it was not possible to see if the hand was strapped, but he continually wrung his fingers to show that he was still in some pain.

“Shields were certainly facing a white-hot opening from the Rangers, but gallantly they stood their ground, sometimes being beaten by superior skill and greater speed, but never short of courage.

“In the 15th minute Shields staged their first real attack of the game and the Rangers’ defence was shown to be far from steady.

Donoghue found Smith midway in the Rangers’ half and the centre forward hit a fine return pass to the inside-left, who pushed one through into the penalty area for Johnstone, but from 15 yards he screwed his shot wide. It was a definite scoring chance.

“And in the 20th and 21st minute the Mariners should have taken the lead. First it was Smith beating two defenders on the edge of the penalty area before sending a perfect pass inside the full-back for McCallum to run on to. Kelly left his goal, found himself stranded, but from 12 yards McCallum fired a foot wide of a gaping empty net.

“A minute later Johnstone and Donoghue between them cut through the Rangers defence to find Smith.

“The centre-forward brilliantly beat Watson with spectacular ball control, lobbing the ball from one foot to the other, and he ended with a rocket drive that had Kelly hopelessly beaten, but the ball scraped the outside of the post.”

Did Shields go on to rue these early chances? Find out on Thursday when we resume the tale.

* Please get in touch with me with your recollections of the game.