When South Shields were FA Cup giantkillers

A Gazette picture and headline from the FA Cup victory over Crewe.
A Gazette picture and headline from the FA Cup victory over Crewe.

With South Shields FC doing so well in the league at the moment, I thought it would be a good time to look back at some of the club’s most memorable moments.

So I asked the club’s commercial assistant, Bob Wray, to cherry-pick some of his fondest Mariners’ memories from over the years.

His first involves a splendid cup victory going back to 1958, when non-league South Shields trounced Football League club Crewe Alexandra 5-0.

Such was the extent of the cup shock, that it made headlines in just about every newspaper in the land, as Bob’s archive cuttings attest.

And just days before that famous victory, on Wednesday, November 19, the writing seemed to be on the wall for Crewe, as The Shields Gazette’s headline trumpeted: “Meet the new power plus XI that did us proud at Crewe.”

The paper’s John Westoby was equally upbeat in his report of the first round match (which led to the memorable replay at Simonside Hall), which started off by announcing: “Today I offer you a new-look South Shields. A revitalised punchy combination, which fought for every ball to force a first round FA Cup replay with Fourth Division side Crewe Alexandra.

“Make no mistake, the Mariners earned the glory so richly deserved in the 2-2 draw. Every manjack in that new green and red continental-style strip, did South Shields proud.”

And the headline in the paper just two days later was equally upbeat when, after the replay victory, it proclaimed: “Now for Oldham – Next stop!”

In his report, Westoby announced that while Shields had been able to fields an unchanged side for the game, Crewe were forced to make two changes from the first match.

But even so, the 10,000 or so spectators there – which included both the entire Sunderland and Newcastle teams, along with Don Revie – could not have guessed what was about to unfold.

“Crewe given no chance by fighting Shields,” declared another newspaper headline; “I’m so ashamed” says Crewe boss,” boomed another, while a third boasted: “It’s cricket, lovely cricket” (Gallant non-leaguers slam five past struggling Crewe – it could have been eight.”

And the match reports were equally emphatic.

Jim Slater wrote the day after the game: “After many years in the wilderness, South Shields surely carved for themselves a place on the Football League map yesterday, when they well and truly trounced League club Crewe Alexandra 5-0 in a first round FA Cup replay. And it might have well been 8-0.

“On the day’s play better sides than Crewe would have bowed to Shields, who, once the early minutes had ticked away, settled down to produce Cup football of the best calibre.

“In a side of honest triers, no one could be faulted.

“The attack produced some scintillating soccer. There were occasions when the visiting forwards showed glimpses of cohesion, but it availed them little in face of the resistance presented by the home defence.

“The game was a triumph for 21-year-old centre-half Tommy Passmore, who was making his debut in senior football.

“Because of the player’s illness, Sunderland let him go. It was once said of Tommy, indeed, that he would never play again, but he has fought back to recovery and more than one League scout would put a mark beside his name yesterday.

“Throughout, he held complete command down the middle.

“As was the case on Saturday, Crewe decided to rely on the offside trap, but this time it contributed to their downfall. Inside-forward Alan Monkhouse, lying deeper than normal, exploited the long pass to perfection and winger Powell’s superior speed did the rest.

“Full-back Millar was clearly uneasy at the situation and long before the end, both he and full back colleague Cheadle had been well-nigh run into the ground.”

* There will be more on the match in tomorrow’s Time Of Our Lives.