Tottenham On This Day: Controversy As Spurs Lose In FA Cup Semi-Final


Jimmy Seed [Photo: Logan Holmes]Tottenham’s first FA Cup semi-final defeat came in March 1922 in controversial circumstances. Spurs, the Cup holders were on the wrong end of a refereeing decision.

Tottenham on this Day

25th March, 1922

Preston North End 2 Spurs 1 FA Cup Semi-Final at Hillsborough

Scorer: Seed

Team: Jacques; Clay, McDonald; Smith, Walters, Grimsdell; Walden, Seed, Wilson, Bliss, Dimmock  

Controversy in FA Cup semi-finals is not a new phenomenon as refereeing decisions have had a bearing on many of Spurs semi-final appearances and even away back in 1922, Spurs didn’t have the rub of the green against Preston.

On their way to winning the FA Cup in 1921 Spurs had beaten Preston in the semi-final but the following year, in 1922, Spurs suffered their first semi-final defeat, Preston gaining revenge for the previous year’s defeat in controversial circumstances.

The Tottenham team showed only three changes from that which had won the Cup a year earlier. Bill Jacques took over in goal having missed the latter stages of the Cup winning run through injury, Fanny Walden replaced Jimmy Banks on the right wing and Charlie Wilson came in at centre-forward for Jimmy Cantrell.

At the time of the game Tottenham were 4th in the 1st Division but with two matches in hand due to their Cup run and having their best season since joining the Football League. Preston were in the lower half of the table so Spurs were the favourites and played in that manner throughout the first half and went a goal up through Jimmy Seed. Preston looked a beaten team at half-time but in the second half Preston were revitalized and equalized but then Spurs came back into the game before suffering a refereeing injustice.

Spurs looked to have scored when a shot from Bert Bliss beat the goalkeeper and was on its way into the net.  At this point the referee stopped the game to attend to an injured Preston player. He decreed that he had blown the whistle before the ball entered the net and disallowed the goal. To add insult to injury, the player hadn’t been seriously injured. This decision demoralised the Spurs players and Preston went on to score the winning goal.

In the Final Preston lost to a disputed penalty, awarded for a foul committed outside the area, but that was of little consolation to Spurs.

Tottenham finished the season in 2nd place, 6 points behind Champions, Liverpool. It was Tottenham’s highest finish and completed an exciting three years for Spurs following the re-commencement of football after the 1st World War – 2nd Division Champions, Fa Cup winners and 2nd in the 1st Division.

The Tale of The FA Cup Semi-Final

1922 FA Cup S/f Spurs v Preston [Photo: Logan Holmes]