1st round. Jan 14th. Clapton Orient. Away. Abandoned at 1-0
Why was the game abandoned on 45 minutes? The most likely cause in London 1911 was fog. I await confirmation from the usual sources! The crowd was not recorded in my normal source.
It should be made clear from the start that this was not the same club as we played in 1893 – that was Clapton – who are still going as an independent. team. This club was the club that became Leyton Orient – was formed in 1881 by students of Homerton college. It played as Eagle Cricket Club in 1886, and Orient FC in 1888 before being Clapton Orient in 1898
1st round. Jan 16th. Clapton Orient. Away. Won 2-1. Crowd 9519
As any Orient fan will tell you they are the second oldest football club in London (after Fulham), and founded five years before Arsenal. They played one season in the 2nd Division of the Southern League in 1904/5 where they came a fairly miserable 8th out of 12 before jumping straight from their into the second division of the football league in 1905/6, wherein they duly came bottom.
So what on earth was going on? In their Southern League second division season Clapton were mostly playing the reserve sides of Football League and Southern League teams. This was not a case of the Football League wanting more London clubs – Tottenham were playing in the Southern League at this time and rather amusingly the O’s leapfrogged Tottenham to get into the League before them.
Clearly there was no hidden depth in the Orient at the time – they won 7, drew 7 and lost 24 in their first season in the Football League. Their second season in the Football League was even odder, for the bottom five were
- Burslem Port Vale -31 points
- Clapton Orient – 30 points
- Chesterfield Town – 29 points
- Lincoln City – 38 points
- Burton Untied – 26 points
Burton and Burslem Port Vale were duly thrown out of the league leaving Clapton, Chesterfield and Lincoln in tact. Clapton remained a resolutely a bottom six club until this season (1910/11) when they came fourth just behind Chelsea. The good run continued for a couple of years, but the club remained in the second division, and were there waiting for Arsenal when we were relegated.
2nd round. Feb 4th. Swindon Town Away. Lost 0-1 Crowd 14861
Swindon Town was formed in 1879 and turned professional in 1894, being a founder of the Southern League that year. Swindon were runners up in the Southern League in 1909 and 1910, and in the latter season lost in the FA Cup to Newcastle United.
1910/11 was due to be their year, as they won the Southern League (having the previous season competed in one of the european cups (The Dubonnet Cup) played at the Parc des Princes in Paris. As a result of winning the league Swindon played in the Charity Shield (an annual play off between the winners of the Football League and the winners of the Southern League. On 25 September 1911 they lost 4-8 to Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. The funds raised were used to help the survivors of the Titanic.
Once again it is worth noting the power of the Southern League at the time; clubs at the top of the Southern League were undoubtedly able to give Football League clubs a good game and indeed the strength of Swindon Town was such that they were one of the non-league clubs to be given a bye to the First Round proper – which is when Arsenal joined.
Swindon beat Notts County in the first round, and having moved past Arsenal in the second, they beat Darlington in the third round 3-0. In the fourth round they lost to Chelsea. In the semis Newcastle beat Chelsea 3-0 while Bradford City beat Blackburn by the same score. In the final Bradford beat Newcastle 1-0 in a replay.