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History Matters: Up For The Cup

A look back at Pompey’s first Wembley triumph

29 April 2019

Today is the 80th anniversary of one of Pompey’s most remarkable achievements – it was on this day back in 1939 that the Blues lifted the FA Cup for the first time.

Jack Tinn’s side – struggling at the wrong end of the first division – faced a powerful Wolverhampton Wanderers team in the final.

It was their third attempt at Wembley success and the previous two efforts had also been under the stewardship of Tinn.

In 1929, Pompey had been beaten – but not disgraced – 2-0 by Bolton. Five years later, Manchester City had been the victors, coming from behind to win 2-1.

They had been the underdogs on each of those previous occasions, but not more so than in 1939 when nobody – except perhaps the most optimistic fan – could see beyond a Wolves victory.

Pompey had struck lucky with a series of home ties in the run to Wembley. Success over Lincoln in the third round was followed by a 2-0 win against West Brom and a defeat of West Ham by the same scoreline.

Preston were the quarter-final visitors to Fratton Park and dispatched 1-0. The semi-final draw paired the Blues with Huddersfield at Highbury, where a 2-1 triumph secured a date with destiny.

The Portsmouth public’s imagination had been captured by the cup run, with more than 155,000 people packing into the ground for those earlier ties

But a paltry allocation of tickets for the final meant disappointment for many. In the end, something like 13,000 lucky fans filed into Wembley to see if their side could make it third time lucky.

The Pompey team introduced to the King was: Harry Walker, Lew Morgan, Bill Rochford, Jimmy Guthrie (captain), Tommy Rowe, Guy Wharton, Freddie Worrall, Jimmy McAlinden, Jock Anderson, Bert Barlow, Cliff Parker (Bill Bagley had travelled with the party as first reserve).

After some tense opening exchanges, they began to take a hold on the match – and it was entirely with the run of play when Barlow fired them ahead with a fine shot after 31 minutes.

Then, seconds before the interval, Anderson curled an effort beyond the reach of keeper Alec Scott to make it 2-0.

Parker added a third after the break, but a Wolves rally saw the Pompey rearguard come under pressure for the first time in the match and Dicky Dorsett reduced the arrears.

But the Blues were not to be thwarted. Parker headed his second goal – and the team’s fourth – after 72 minutes and they were home and dry.

Guthrie led his men up the steps to the Royal Box to receive the trophy and their medals from the King.

The skipper was then carried shoulder-high by his team-mates on a lap of honour and the Pompey Chimes rang out in north-west London.

The Pompey party received a rapturous reception from tens of thousands of fans when they arrived back in the Guildhall Square later that evening.

The FA Cup had come south of London for the first time in its history and, with world-wide events about to take a huge turn for the worse, that is where it would stay for the next seven years!

Graham Dubber is the archivist at the Pompey History Society, who are dedicated to preserving and conserving the club’s archive.

To find out how you can get involved with its activities email or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

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