1926 FA Cup Final

The 1926 FA Cup Final was a football match between Bolton Wanderers and Manchester City on 24 April 1926 at Wembley Stadium in London. The showpiece match of English football's primary cup competition, the Football Association Challenge Cup (better known as the FA Cup), it was the 55th final, and the fourth at Wembley.

Each team progressed through five rounds to reach the final. Both teams were members of the Football League First Division, Bolton Wanderers occupying a position in upper-mid-table and Manchester City next to bottom. Consequently, Bolton entered the match as favourites and, as expected, went on to win, their single goal being scored by David Jack.

1926 FA Cup Final
Old Wembley Stadium (external view)
Event1925–26 FA Cup
Bolton Wanderers Manchester City
1 0
Date24 April 1926
VenueWembley Stadium, London
RefereeI. Baker

Route to the final

Round Opposition Score
3rd Accrington Stanley (h) 1–0
4th Bournemouth (a) 2–2
Bournemouth (h) 6–2
5th South Shields (h) 3–0
6th Nottingham Forest (a) 2–2
Nottingham Forest (h) 0–0
Nottingham Forest (n) 1–0
Semi-final Swansea Town (n) 3–0

Bolton Wanderers

Both teams entered the competition in the third round, the entry point for First Division clubs. Bolton Wanderers were drawn away at Accrington Stanley but, following a request to the FA, the match was switched to Bolton for crowd safety reasons.[1] Bolton's David Jack scored the only goal of the game in an unexpectedly close contest. To the resentment of the Bolton crowd, Ted Vizard was sent off for the first time in his career, leading the referee to require a police escort to the railway station.[2] In the fourth round Bolton were held to a surprise draw at Third Division Bournemouth. The Wanderers lost Bill Cope to injury after fifteen minutes. A 1–0 half-time lead quickly turned into a 2–1 deficit early in the second half but, with five minutes remaining, Jack scored an equaliser.[3]

Bolton's fifth round home tie against South Shields produced a straightforward 3–0 victory. The goals were scored by Joe Smith, Jack Smith and David Jack, the latter maintaining his record of scoring in every round.[4] The quarter-final against Nottingham Forest required two replays to produce a winner. Following a 2–2 draw in Nottingham and a goalless game in Bolton, the Wanderers prevailed 1–0 in another close game held at Old Trafford.[5] Bolton drew Swansea Town, the last remaining Second Division club, in the semi-final. This meant Bolton did not meet a single First Division club in their path to the final.[6] Three early goals gave Bolton a comfortable 3–0 win at White Hart Lane.[7]

Manchester City

Round Opposition Score
3rd Corinthians (a) 3–3
Corinthians (h) 4–0
4th Huddersfield Town (h) 4–0
5th Crystal Palace (h) 11–4
6th Clapton Orient (h) 6–1
Semi-final Manchester United (n) 3–0

Manchester City's third round tie was against the amateur club Corinthians at Crystal Palace. The third round was the furthest Corinithians had ever progressed, though until 1923 the club never entered the cup due to club rules preventing them from entering any competition with a prize.[8] Manchester City went behind and only equalised three minutes from time. The Corinthians goalkeeper, Benjamin Howard Baker collided with a teammate, causing him to take more than four steps with the ball. From the resulting free kick, Frank Roberts scored in a goalmouth melee to take the tie to a replay, held the following Wednesday.[9] The rematch proved less even. Manchester City won 4–0 courtesy of goals by Austin (twice), Hicks and Johnson. After his goal, Hicks had to leave the field as he had sustained an injury while performing a celebratory somersault.[10] In the fourth round, City faced league champions Huddersfield Town and again won 4–0. The crowd of 74,799 was by far the highest of the round, and only 1,200 short of the club record.[11]

Manchester City were drawn at home to Crystal Palace in the fifth round. A final score of 11–4 set a club record for the number of goals in a game and was City's biggest margin of victory since 1903. Frank Roberts scored five and Tommy Browell also scored a hat-trick.[4] Yet another high scoring win was achieved in the quarter-final, when Clapton Orient were beaten 6–1. Johnson scored a hat-trick and Hicks scored for the fifth successive cup match.

Manchester City's cup run started at the Crystal Palace.

In the semi-final, Manchester City faced local rivals Manchester United in a derby match at Bramall Lane. Browell scored the opener from a Hicks corner amid vehement protests for handball from the United players.[7][12] Later in the half, United's Frank Barson flattened Sam Cowan with an "ugly challenge" for which he later received a suspension.[7][12] In the second half, Browell and Roberts each scored to make the final score 3–0.[12]


Both teams had won the FA Cup on one previous occasion and had met in the 1904 FA Cup Final. In that match, Manchester City won 1–0 thanks to a Billy Meredith goal. The 1904 meeting was Manchester City's only previous final, whereas the 1926 tie was the fourth time Bolton had reached the final. They lost in 1894 and 1904, but won the competition for the first time in the "White Horse Final" of 1923, the first to be held at Wembley. The 1926 final was the first to be held since the change to the offside rule in 1925.[13] It now required two defenders behind an attacker receiving the ball instead of three, a change which increased the average number of goals per match.

Bolton played at their Burnden Park ground in every round up to the quarter-final.

Of the two teams, Bolton Wanderers had the better league form. After rising as high as fourth early in the league season,[14] Bolton spent the majority of the year in mid-table and finally finished 8th of the 22 First Division clubs with 44 points from their 42 league fixtures.[15] Manchester City remained in the lower reaches of the league table throughout the season and were relegated after finishing 21st with 35 points.[16] Their matches were frequently high scoring. City scored more league goals than second-placed Arsenal, but also had the second-worst defensive record in the division. The two league matches between the teams in the 1925–26 season ended in a 5–1 home win for Bolton in November and a 1–1 draw at Maine Road in March.[17]

In accordance with changes made for the 1924 final onwards, all tickets were sold in advance to prevent a repeat of the overcrowding at the 1923 final. Approximately 91,000 tickets were available. 53,000 were standing tickets, 15,000 were uncovered seats and 23,000 were covered seats. Standing tickets cost two shillings, seat prices ranged from five shillings to one guinea. The majority of tickets were sold before the finalists were known. As a result, few supporters of the participating teams attended; most were unable to afford the remaining tickets available to the general public, which were typically in the more expensive areas of the stadium.[18] 1,750 tickets were allocated directly to each club.[19] Bolton fielded 6,000 enquiries and lodged a formal protest about the inadequacy of their allocation.[20] The London, Midland and Scottish Railway laid on a total of seven special trains from Manchester to London on the eve and morning of the match.[21] A number of supporters travelled to London without tickets in the hope of securing one outside the stadium. 5s tickets changed hands for up to 15s, provoking the ire of ticketless supporters who accused the sellers of profiteering. In one such instance, a man selling twenty 2s tic|kets at 10s each required the assistance of five police officers to escape the wrath of the crowd.[22] The total gate receipts for the match were £23,157, a new record.[23]

Manchester City prepared for the match by training in the spa town of Buxton.[24] Bolton Wanderers followed their usual training schedule for most of the week, then travelled to Harrow on the Thursday.[20] All eleven men who played for Bolton in their 1923 triumph were still at the club. Of those, only the injured Alex Finney was absent as they travelled to London.[20] Jack Smith had been injured for several weeks in the run-up to the final, but recovered in time and participated in Bolton's last league match before the tie.[25]


In the hour before kick-off, the crowd was entertained by the bands of the Royal Engineers and the Chatham Naval Dockyard.[22] Following the National Anthem, the players, match officials and club chairmen were introduced to King George V.[22] The toss was then won by the Bolton captain Joe Smith.[22] In contrast to the lengthy delays which marred Bolton's previous visit to Wembley, the match kicked off three minutes earlier than scheduled.[26]

As anticipated, Bolton fielded ten of the eleven who played the 1923 final. Left-back Harry Greenhalgh was the only change from the 1923 line-up.[13] Each team played the formation typical of the era: two full-backs, three half-backs and five forwards. Bolton had the better of the opening exchanges; the Times correspondent wrote: "In the first five minutes Bolton Wanderers were so superior to their opponents that they might have been giving an exhibition for the cinema against schoolboys".[27] Manchester City then gradually asserted themselves and had the first clear chance. Frank Roberts took a right-footed shot, but hit the ball straight at Bolton goalkeeper Dick Pym.[26] Overall, the defences enjoyed the better of the play in the first half. Bolton's Joe Smith was instrumental in much of his team's attacking play,[22] both he and left-winger Ted Vizard receiving praise for their play.[26]

Hicks, who was generally described as the most effective of the Manchester City forwards, had a chance which he hit high over the crossbar.[22] In a rare spell of sustained Manchester City pressure, a free kick by captain Jimmy McMullan forced a save from Pym, and the resulting near-post corner prompted a goalmouth scramble which ended with a foul on Bolton's Greenhalgh.[22] Pym made further saves from Browell and Hicks, the latter resulting in a corner. From the corner Bolton won the ball and headed upfield on the counter-attack. Billy Butler's cross from the right went beyond the goal and was retrieved by Vizard on the left wing.[22] The outside-forward then cut inside and played the ball across goal in a manner described by some correspondents as a shot and others as a pass.[26][27] David Jack received the ball in the six-yard box and put the ball between Goodchild and McCloy into the City goal,[26] giving Bolton the lead with 14 minutes remaining. In the few minutes after the goal, Manchester City came forward in numbers but lacked clear chances and were hindered by over-eager forwards going offside.[22] Following a goal kick by Pym, the referee blew the final whistle.[22] Bolton won the cup for a second time, becoming the first club to win twice at Wembley.


The Bolton team were greeted by crowds at Bolton Town Hall. In a playful exchange, Joe Smith gave the Cup to the mayor, saying that it had been won for Bolton and was given to Bolton, which the mayor refused.[28] Bolton went on to win a third FA Cup in 1929, beating Portsmouth 2–0. The 1929 team contained five of the 1926 cup winners. Goalscorer David Jack was transferred to Arsenal in 1928. The transfer set a world record as the first to exceed £10,000.[29] Jack won one more FA Cup with Arsenal.

Upon arrival back in Manchester, the Manchester City team were given a civic reception at Manchester Town Hall, then immediately travelled to their Maine Road ground to play a league fixture against Leeds.[28] Manchester City won that match 2–1,[30] but failed to win the following Saturday and were relegated to the Second Division. In doing so they became the first cup finalists ever to be relegated in the same season, a fate since shared by 1969 finalist Leicester City, 1983 finalist Brighton & Hove Albion, 2010 finalist Portsmouth and 2013 winners Wigan Athletic.[9] The final was the last time Albert Alexander's committee selected the team. Peter Hodge had agreed to join the club as manager well in advance of the final, but was unable to take up the position until his previous club Leicester City completed their league fixtures.[31] Several seasons later, City half-back Sam Cowan went on to captain the club in the 1933 and 1934 finals.[32]

Match details

Bolton Wanderers1–0Manchester City
Jack Goal 76' Report
Bolton Wanderers
Manchester City
Goalkeeper England Dick Pym
Full-back England Bob Haworth
Full-back England Harry Greenhalgh
Half-back England Harry Nuttall
Half-back England Jimmy Seddon
Half-back England Billy Jennings
Forward England Billy Butler
Forward Scotland Jack Smith
Forward England David Jack
Forward England Joe Smith (c)
Forward Wales Ted Vizard
England Charles Foweraker
Goalkeeper England Jim Goodchild
Full-back England Sam Cookson
Full-back Scotland Philip McCloy
Half-back Scotland Charlie Pringle
Half-back England Sam Cowan
Half-back Scotland Jimmy McMullan (c)
Forward England Billy Austin
Forward England Tommy Browell
Forward England Frank Roberts
Forward England Tommy Johnson
Forward England George Hicks
England Albert Alexander, Sr.


  • 90 minutes.
  • 30 minutes of extra-time if necessary.
  • Replay if scores still level.


  • James, Gary (2006). Manchester City – The Complete Record. Derby: Breedon. ISBN 1-85983-512-0.
  • Ward, Andrew (1984). The Manchester City Story. Derby: Breedon. ISBN 0-907969-05-4.
  1. ^ "The Association Cup-ties – Manchester Clubs' Hard Games. How Will Lancashire Fare?". The Manchester Guardian. C. P. Scott. 9 January 1926. p. 10.
  2. ^ "Few Surprises In The Cup Ties". The Manchester Guardian. C. P. Scott. 11 January 1926. p. 4.
  3. ^ "Few Surprising Cup Tie Results". The Manchester Guardian. C. P. Scott. 1 February 1926. p. 10.
  4. ^ a b "Second Division Clubs Bid for Cup, Lacrosse Score at Manchester". The Manchester Guardian. C. P. Scott. 22 February 1926. p. 4.
  5. ^ "Bolton Reach Semi-Final at Third Attempt". The Manchester Guardian. C. P. Scott. 16 March 1926. p. 5.
  6. ^ "To-day's Association Cup Semi-Finals". The Manchester Guardian. C. P. Scott. 27 March 1926. p. 16.
  7. ^ a b c "An All-Lancashire Cup Final". The Manchester Guardian. C. P. Scott. 29 March 1926. p. 4.
  8. ^ "Association Football. The Corinthians at Brighton". The Times. London: J. J. Astor. 13 January 1923. p. 13.
  9. ^ a b Ward (1984). p. 63.
  10. ^ "Five More Cup-ties Decided". The Manchester Guardian. C. P. Scott. 14 January 1926. p. 5.
  11. ^ "The Giants Fail in the Cup". The Observer. Manchester: C. P. Scott. 31 January 1926. p. 19.
  12. ^ a b c James, Gary (1 April 2011). "When brine and pigeons ruled derby roost!". Manchester Evening News. Trinity Mirror. pp. 6–7 (supplement).
  13. ^ a b "A Lancashire Cup Final". The Times. London: J. J. Astor. 24 April 1926. p. 7.
  14. ^ "English Division One (old) 1925–1926 : Table on 08.09.1925". Statto Organisation. Archived from the original on 9 December 2015. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  15. ^ "Bolton Wanderers 1925–1926". Statto Organisation. Archived from the original on 20 May 2010. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  16. ^ "Manchester City 1925–1926". Statto Organisation. Archived from the original on 20 May 2010. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  17. ^ James (2006) p. 328.
  18. ^ "The Cup Final: Only Stand Tickets Available, Small Manchester Demand". The Manchester Guardian. C. P. Scott. 8 April 1926.
  19. ^ "Our London Correspondence". The Manchester Guardian. C. P. Scott. 14 April 1926. p. 8.
  20. ^ a b c "Lancashire's Cup Final at Wembley". The Manchester Guardian. C. P. Scott. 24 April 1926. p. 1.
  21. ^ "Cup Final Excursions". The Manchester Guardian. C. P. Scott. 16 April 1926. p. 6.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "English Cup Final: Not a Great Game, Bolton Wanderers Win". The Scotsman. 26 April 1926. p. 9.
  23. ^ "Cup-tie Finances". The Manchester Guardian. C. P. Scott. 28 April 1926. p. 5.
  24. ^ "Wireless Notes and Week-end Programmes: Rival Captains on To-day's Cup Final". The Manchester Guardian. C. P. Scott. 24 April 1926. p. 14.
  25. ^ "English Cup Final". The Scotsman. 24 April 1926. p. 12.
  26. ^ a b c d e "Bolton Wins The Cup". The Observer. Manchester: C. P. Scott. 25 April 1926. p. 17.
  27. ^ a b "The Cup Final: Bolton's Second Victory at Wembley". The Times. London: J. J. Astor. 26 April 1926. p. 5.
  28. ^ a b "Wanderers Return". The Manchester Guardian. C. P. Scott. 28 April 1926.
  29. ^ "How footballers wages have changed over the years: in numbers". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. 18 January 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
  30. ^ "League Football: Manchester City's Step Towards Safety". The Manchester Guardian. C. P. Scott. 28 April 1926. p. 5.
  31. ^ James (2006). p. 241.
  32. ^ James (2006) p. 169.

External links

1925–26 FA Cup

The FA Cup 1925–26 was the 51st staging of the world's oldest football cup competition, the Football Association Challenge Cup, commonly known as the FA Cup. Bolton Wanderers won the competition for the second time, beating Manchester City 1–0 in the final at Wembley.

Matches were scheduled to be played at the stadium of the team named first on the date specified for each round, which was always a Saturday. Some matches, however, might be rescheduled for other days if there were clashes with games for other competitions or the weather was inclement. If scores were level after 90 minutes had been played, a replay would take place at the stadium of the second-named team later the same week. If the replayed match was drawn further replays would be held until a winner was determined. If scores were level after 90 minutes had been played in a replay, a 30-minute period of extra time would be played. This first edition of the competition with the modern naming convention of the FA cup First and Second Qualifying rounds became First and Second round proper and what was previously called First round proper became Third Round Proper.

Albert Alexander Sr.

Albert Edward Burns Alexander Sr. (21 Sep 1867 - 14 Oct 1953) was a figure in early 20th century English football who held a number of roles at Manchester City.

Born in Hulme, Alexander was one of four sons involved in the coach proprietorship business. He lived in Ardwick from 1871 to at least the 1920s, having married a storekeeper's daughter, Evelyn Bridge, in St Matthew's there in June 1891.

Alexander's connections with Manchester City go back to at least 1904. That year Manchester City reached the FA Cup final for the first time. The club directors hired a horse-drawn carriage to make the journey to London, with Alexander as the driver. By the 1920s, Alexander was the club's vice-chairman, and had also formed and coached the "A" team, the club's first youth development side.In 1925 manager David Ashworth resigned. Unable to find a suitable replacement, the directors selected the team by committee. Alexander led the panel with assistance from figures including Lawrence Furniss and Wilf Wild. Under the Alexander-led committee the club achieved a record 6–1 Manchester derby win, and reached the 1926 FA Cup Final, though City were defeated 1–0 by Bolton Wanderers. On 26 April 1926, Peter Hodge was appointed manager, and Alexander's period in charge came to an end.

Alexander's son, Albert Victor, was Manchester City chairman in the 1960s, and through Albert Jr. and his son Eric the Alexander family had a presence on the club board until 1972.

Billy Butler (footballer)

William Butler (17 March 1900 – 11 July 1966) was an English professional footballer who was most famously a winger for Bolton Wanderers in the 1920s.

Billy Butler was born in Atherton, Lancashire. He had never played for any form of organised football team prior to joining the army. He played as a centre-forward for his regiment and on leaving the army he joined his hometown club Atherton at the age of 19. He moved to Bolton Wanderers in April 1920 and, on moving to the right wing, soon established himself. He played in the 1923 FA Cup Final victory over West Ham United, the famous first Wembley final, and the following year, on 12 April 1924, made his England debut against Scotland.

It was to be his only appearance for the England national team, but he was back at Wembley again for the 1926 FA Cup Final win over Manchester City, and picked up his third winners medal in 1929, scoring the opening goal in the 2–0 defeat of Portsmouth.

On Bolton's relegation in 1933, Butler asked for a transfer and left to join his former Bolton teammate Joe Smith, who by now was manager of Reading. He had played 449 games for Bolton, scoring 74 goals.

In August 1935, Smith left to manage Blackpool and Butler took over the reins at Reading and carried on with the good work Smith had started. Reading never finished below 6th place in Division Three (South) during Butler's tenure and were heading for another top five finish when he resigned in February 1939.

He became manager of Guildford City, but then World War II intervened and Butler joined the RAF as a PT instructor. With the war over, Butler was appointed manager of Torquay United in August 1945, but left Plainmoor in May 1946 before league football had resumed.

He subsequently moved to South Africa to manage Johannesburg Rangers, where he discovered the future Wolves defender Eddie Stuart and future Blackpool and England left winger Bill Perry. He was later a coach for the Pietermaritzburg & District Football Association and then a coach for the Rhodesian Football Association

Butler died in Durban in July 1966, aged 66.

Charlie Pringle

Charles Ross Pringle (born 18 October 1894) was a Scottish footballer, who played as a wing half.

Born in the village of Nitshill, south of Glasgow, Pringle's first professional club was St Mirren, for whom he signed during World War I. On 12 February 1921 he won his first and only cap for Scotland in a 2-1 win against Wales.

In 1922 Pringle signed for Manchester City, making his debut on 26 August 1922 in the opening game of the 1922-23 season, a 2-0 defeat at Sheffield United. He then proceeded to play in every Manchester City match for over a year. He was part of the Manchester City team which played in the 1926 FA Cup final, and was captain for part of his City career. After winning a Second Division champions medal in 1927–28, Pringle left Manchester City in the close season as part of a venture to form a new club, Manchester Central F.C.

He later played for Bradford Park Avenue, Lincoln City and Stockport County. After his playing career finished he became a coach. His coaching career included a spell at his former club St Mirren.

Pringle married Lily Meredith, the daughter of fellow Manchester City player Billy Meredith, and played in the same team as his father-in-law seven times.

George Hicks (footballer)

George Wolstenholme Hicks (30 April 1902 – after 1934) was an English professional footballer who played as an outside left. He made 231 appearances in the Football League.Born in Salford, Hicks joined Manchester City in November 1923. He played for them in the 1926 FA Cup Final and contributed to them winning the Second Division championship in the 1927–28 season. He signed for First Division club Birmingham in October 1928, and scored 12 league goals in what remained of that season. Early in the 1930–31 season he sustained a serious knee injury. Though he attempted a comeback twelve months later, playing and scoring against Blackpool in September 1931, that game marked the end of his Birmingham career. He moved to Manchester United in January 1932, but left for Bristol Rovers later that year without having featured for the first team. A further year later, again without playing League football, he joined Swindon Town, for whom he played four matches before moving to his last Football League club, Rotherham United, where he missed only three games in the remainder of the 1933–34 season.

Harry Greenhalgh

Harry Woodgate Greenhalgh (27 June 1900 – 1982) was an English footballer who played as a right back in The Football League with Bolton Wanderers in the 1920s. He was a member of the Bolton Wanderers team which won the 1926 FA Cup Final.

History of Manchester City F.C. (1880–1928)

This page chronicles the history of Manchester City in further detail from its early years in 1880 to 1928. See Manchester City F.C. for an overview of the football club.

Jim Goodchild

Andrew James Goodchild (4 April 1892 – 2 October 1950) was an English football goalkeeper who played for Manchester City and was their goalkeeper in the 1926 FA Cup Final.

Jimmy McMullan

Jimmy McMullan (26 March 1895 – 28 November 1964) was a Scottish football player and manager. McMullan won 16 Scotland caps as a player at half-back and was part of the famous "Wembley Wizards" side of 1928.

Sam Cowan

Samuel Cowan (10 May 1901 – 4 October 1964) was an English football player and manager. A relative latecomer to the sport, Cowan did not play football until he was 17 and was 22 by the time he turned professional. He made his league debut for Doncaster Rovers in 1923, and signed for First Division Manchester City the following season.

Cowan played centre half for Manchester City for 11 seasons, captaining the team in the early to mid-1930s. He is the only player to have represented Manchester City in three FA Cup finals, as a runner-up in 1926 and 1933, and as a winner in 1934. Internationally, he gained three England caps between 1926 and 1931. In total he played 407 times for Manchester City, putting him 12th in terms of all-time appearances. In 1935, he transferred to Bradford City, and subsequently moved to Mossley as player-manager.

In 1938, Cowan joined Brighton & Hove Albion as a coach, and set up a physiotherapy business. He returned to Manchester City as manager in 1946, winning the Second Division in his only season in charge. He continued to work in sports and physiotherapy until his death in 1964.

Tommy Johnson (footballer, born 1901)

Thomas Clark Fisher Johnson (19 August 1901 – 28 January 1973) was an English football player who played as either a centre forward or an inside forward. He started his professional career at Manchester City in 1919, and represented the club throughout the 1920s. Known for his powerful left foot shot, Johnson holds the record for the most goals scored by a Manchester City player in a single season, with 38 goals in 1928–29. He played for Manchester City in the 1926 FA Cup Final, and was a member of the City side which won the Second Division in 1927.

Johnson signed for Everton in 1930, acting as a foil for the prolific centre-forward Dixie Dean. In four seasons at Everton, Johnson won the Second Division, the First Division and the FA Cup, before finishing his professional career with a short spell at Liverpool.

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