Twice FA Cup Winners
The story of this particular season was undoubtedly dominated by Bury's success in the cup competitions, though The Manchester Senior Cup was claimed for the fourth time and the Shakers also reached the Final of the FA Cup for the very first time. Along the route to the Crystal Palace, the team accounted for Burnley, Notts County (after a replay) and holders Sheffield United (after a replay).
In each instance Bury had been drawn away from home but eventually won through. There had only been 4,438 at Gigg Lane for the second round replay against Notts County, but interest had grown to such an extent after holding Sheffield United to a 2 2 draw at Bramall Lane in the third round, that a new ground record of 20,684 crammed into Gigg for the replay, with many, many, more breaking into the ground and gaining tree admission.
Billy Richards and Jack Plant goals took Bury into the semi-finals where they met Nottingham Forest at Stoke's neutral Victoria Ground. A fifteenth minute Jack Pray penalty gave Bury hope against Forest but they eventually had to settle for a 1-1 draw after missing a further penalty and a tense semi-final replay now awaited at Bramall Lane.
It was estimated that just 400 Bury supporters made the journey to Sheffield for this Thursday evening kick-off, but those Shakers fans amongst the crowd of 15,000 were about to see a thriller. It could not have been a worse possible start for Bury as Capes gave Forest a first minute lead and Bevendge promptly added a second just one minute later Two goals down after two minutes! Despite still being a brace of goals in arrears at half time. Bury gradually settled during the second period and Charlie Sagar pulled one back after 55 minutes.
Those 400 fans then had to wait until five minutes before the end before Jasper McLuckie pulled Bury level. The Nottingham players then protested most vehemently about having to play extra time and probably had great cause to do so when Charlie Sagar's second goal after 110 minutes took the Shakers into the final.
The Bury players had been on a win bonus of £1 per man in the early rounds of the Cup. This had been increased to £5 in the games against Sheffield and Nottingham and now that the team had reached the final, the Directors agreed to increase this to £10 per player - or roughly three weeks wages for most of them. This may not seem a huge incentive in current day terms, but it was certainly a gesture that the working class Bury players were grateful for and happy to accept.
Alfred Wardle travelled to London two weeks prior to the Final in order to reserve hotel accommodation for the players, trainers and Directors. Bookings were confirmed for the Bury Directors at the Royal Crystal Palace Hotel with the players at the Tavistock Hotel at Covent Garden. It was decided to travel down on Thursday 19th and remain in London until the Monday after the actual game.
The day of the Final brought a heatwave to London with the players and the crowd of 68,945 having to swelter under tremendous heat throughout the afternoon. Southampton were the first Southern club to reach the final since 1893, but the hopes of the southerners were dashed in a first-half that was dominated throughout by the Shakers. McLuckie opened the scoring after nine minutes from a corner and Wood added a second after 16 minutes when goalkeeper Robinson failed to hold a Plant shot After 23 minutes it was 3-0, when McLuckie scored his second goal with a lightening shot that Robinson never even tried for.
Southampton made more of a tight of things in the second period but it was the Shakers who again found the back of the net, Ten minutes from time. Jack Plant shot home from a Richards corner and the rout was complete. Fittingly, it was former Club President, Sir Henry James (Lord James of Hereford) who presented the trophy to skipper Jack Pray at the end of the game.
Bury's slice of the Cup Final receipts was £938-16s.6d with a further £350-1-s.6d from the semi final games. This was manna from heaven for the Shakers Directors after a couple of years of real financial struggle, and this money was responsible for turning the club's debts of £1,230 into a balance in favour of the company of £1,329.
27 Jan 1900 vs Burnley (A) - 1-0 (Sagar) - Attendance 6,020
10 Feb 1900 vs Notts County (A) - 0-0 - Attendance 8,079
Second Round Replay
14 Feb 1900 vs Notts County (H) - 2-0 (Sagar, Wood) - Attendance 4,480
24 Feb 1900 vs Sheffield United (A) - 2-2 (McLuckie, Wood) - Attendance 22,766
Third Round Replay
1 Mar 1900 vs Sheffield United (H) - 2-0 (Plant, Richards) - Attendance 20,139
24 Mar 1900 vs Nottingham Forest (At Stoke) - 1-1 (Pray (Pen)) - Attendance 18,000
Semi Final Replay
29 Mar 1900 vs Nottingham Forest (At Sheffield United) - 3-2 (aet) (Sagar 2, McLuckie) - Attendance 15,000
21 Apr 1900 vs Southampton (at Crystal Palace) - 4-0 (McLuckie 2, Plant, Wood) - Attendance 68,945
The Shakers were about to claim a little more history and win a famous treble as they won the three domestic cup competitions that they had entered the F A Cup, Lancashire Senior Cup and Manchester Senior Cup.
A Billy Richards goal after sixty minutes gave Bury a first round F A Cup victory at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers. That goal earned a difficult tie at Bramall Lane in the next round against holders Sheffield United, but Charlie Sagar put the Shakers into a fifth minute lead that proved to be the only goal of the game in a magnificent overall performance. There had only been 5,172 at Gigg Lane for the first round tie with Wolves, but the win at Sheffield caused such interest in the town that 22,841 paid to see Bury's third round tie at home to Notts County. It took a Jimmy Lindsay penalty early in the second half for Bury to overcome County, but this proved to be sufficient to take the Shakers into the semi-finals where they were pitched against favourites Aston Villa.
A huge crowd of around 50,000 converged on Goodison Park for the semi-final with a good Bury contingent included in those numbers. If Villa were expected to walk all over Bury, that certainly did not prove to be the case, and Jack Plant shot the Shakers into a deserved thirtieth minute lead. With almost perfect timing, Charlie Sagar scored a second just three minutes after half-time and Billy Richards wrapped things up with a third goal after an hour's play to emphasize Bury's overall superiority.
The Shakers were in the F A Cup Final for the second time in three years and had yet to concede a Cup goal. If former Chairman John Ingram had still been alive he would no doubt have been shouting We are the Shakers' once more at this proud moment. In the other semi-final Derby County had also been busy, mirroring Bury's 3-0 victory with a similar scoreline against Millwall Athletic.
One of the first problems that arose was the question of which of the two teams would wear their normal white shirts and blue shorts in the final "We have worn white longer," claimed Bury "We are the older organisation " claimed Derby". Sort it out between yourselves ' commented the Football Association, when the clubs referred the matter to them.
With the two clubs unable to reach a compromise, neither eventually wore their normal strip, Bury turning out in Cambridge blue shirts and navy 'knickers' with Derby County wearing red shirts and black shorts.
Arrangements were immediately made for the team to stay at the White Swan Hotel, Upper Norwood, which was within easy distance of the ground. The booking was made from Thursday until Saturday It was thought that such arrangements would give the players a good sound sleep on the night before the match. Derby County, meanwhile, did not leave their Derbyshire headquarters until Friday afternoon, having trained in the morning, and the Shakers officials felt that their arrangements had immediately given them an advantage over the Rams.
Meanwhile back in Bury, Cup fever was growing and on the Fnday afternoon and Saturday morning seven special long trains left Knowsley Street and Bolton Street stations en route for the Crystal Palace. That equated to around 2,000 people alone, and it was certain that the team would have a healthy following. There were also some 79 special trains being run to the Final from various points around England and it seems that the habits of football fans over the years has not changed too much. All the major train stations in London stocked up with provisions and at St Pancras three special rooms were put aside for fans with some 40 barrels of beer, 200 cases of bottled beer, and a plentiful supply of whisky on hand.
A trip to London also presented a rare chance to go sightseeing for Bury's supporters, with the Bury Guardian commenting, Whichever way one turned, one met Bury people sporting their colours It was impossible to gel away from residents of one's own town "
Setting the scene at the Crystal Palace before the game, the Bury Times commented, "Quite a number of photographers were in evidence, while a cinematograph was taken to the top of one of the stands. The Derby men were the first to lake the field and were greeted with a roar that was very easily outclassed when the Red Rose representatives were led on by captain George Ross".
The game, strangely, kicked off at 3 27 p m , with Bury's side containing six of the players who had picked up a Cup winners medal three years earlier. It took twenty minutes before George Ross put the Shakers into the lead and the hard, uneven pitch played a part as his bouncing shot completely deceived keeper Fryer. Although Bury were far superior throughout the first half, it took a last gasp goal-line clearance from Ross to prevent a Derby goal, after Monteith had been clearly beaten.
Derby's keeper Fryer had picked up a knock in a League game, played on Easter Monday, and it had become clear that he should not have played in the Cup Final. He took a knock in trying to prevent Bury's second goal when Sagar scored three minutes after half-time. The two players collided, and Fryer went off for treatment.
The third goal came whilst full back Morris was deputising between the posts, Leeming chipping the ball past him as he raced out of his goal. Fryer returned at once, but within a minute Wood had scored after the "injured keeper parried" Thorpe's shot. The next goal came when Jack Plant cut inside from the left and sent a shot flying into the corner of the net after 59 minutes.
Bury were therefore five goals up, having scored four of them within an eleven minute period. Morris was soon forced to take over from Fryer once more, but neither man would have stopped Bury's sixth goal after 75 minutes. Joe Leeming gained possession from Thorpe and sent a shot crashing into the goal.
The 6-0 result was a record FA Cup final score, beating Blackburn's 6-1 win over The Wednesday in 1890, and it still remains the record score almost 100 years later. Bury also equalled Preston's record of winning the FA Cup without conceding a single goal, but the team's achievements did not stop the match being hailed as one of the poorest finals ever played.
"Briefly and candidly the cup final was a fiasco. Nothing like it had ever been seen before. Bury defeated Derby County by six goals to none, and it might have been twenty. That is was not is testimony to the mercy exercised by the victors rather than to the defence of the losers," commented the Daily Chronicle.
Nevertheless, Lord Kinnaird presented George Ross with the Trophy and each player with a winners medal. A long evening of celebrations followed with a dinner at the Trocadero Restaurant in Piccadilly Circus. After much champagne and singing, the Players and officials stayed the next two nights at the Tavistock Hotel before setting off for a League Game on Monday at West Bromwich Albion!
This was just to be the first of three cup successes for the Shakers within ten days. On April 27th Bury collected the Lancashire Senior Cup after beating Everton1-0 at Gigg Lane, and two days later the Shakers then drew 2-2 with Manchester City in the Manchester Senior Cup Final and jointly held the trophy for twelve months.
7 Feb 1903 vs Wolves (H) - 1-0 (Richards) - Attendance 5,172
21 Feb 1903 vs Sheffield United (A) - 1-0 (Sagar) - Attendance 24,103
7 Mar 1903 vs Notts County (H) - 1-0 (Lindsay (Pen)) - Attendance 22,841
21 Mar 1903 vs Aston Villa (At Everton) - 3-0 (Plant, Sagar, Richards) - Attendance 50,000
18 Apr 1903 vs Derby County (at Crystal Palace) - 6-0 (Ross, Sagar, Leeming 2, Wood, Plant) - Attendance 63,102