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FA Cup Third round, 9th January 1932

While everyone who attended agreed this Cup tie had been a momentous encounter and worthy of its headline billing, those of a Rovers persuasion will argue forever that they should have won the game by three goals to one at the first time of asking. The outcome of the match hinged on two controversial decisions by match referee E.V.Gough of Stoke-on–Trent, both pertaining to the offside law. One decision denied Tranmere a crucial opening goal, which had been allowed to stand Chelsea might have found it difficult to recover from a two goal deficit, and the other allowed the aristocratic pensioners to grab an undeserved equaliser and take Rovers back to their London lair at Stanford Bridge, where they would eventually finish the job. Rovers believed they opened the scoring on 10 minutes when Dixon played the ball to Fred Urmsom lurking on the edge of the area. His venomous shot cannoned off the underside of the bar and into the net with Millington well beaten, but the celebrations were cut short when the referee ruled Sammy Meston, who closed in on goal after the ball had hit the underside of the bar and went in was in an offside position. The Rovers players argued strongly that Meston was not offside when the shot left Urmsom’s boot or could he be deemed to be ‘interfering with play’ as he was nowhere near the keeper. If the Rovers players felt aggrieved about the loss of the goal that they were downright fuming when, defending a 2-1 lead, Mr Gough again intervened with his own interpretation of the offside rule- and even ignored the linesman’s raised flag – to award Chelsea a controversial equaliser midway through the second half. Pearson was standing virtually under the bar when he headed in a lob from Jackson which Bert Gray had misjudged, but the referee ruled Jackson’s effort was already in before Pearson touched it, even though he personally was yards behind play. Now you would think standing under the bar behind the ‘keeper is a clear case of interfering with play as it is possible to have, but Mr Gough was having none of it. As for the goals which did count, well, Chelsea opened the scoring after 28 minutes. Having passed the ball around neatly to reach the Rovers penalty area Rankin slipped the ball out to famous centre-forward Hughie Gallagher, who coolly tucked it past Gray. But 11 minutes into the second half Rovers fought their way back to level the match with a well taken goal. Teddy Barton clearly sprung the Chelsea offside trap and played in Ernie Dixon for a 40 yard run on goal. Racing away from the chasing pack Dixon hammered the ball past Millington from 25 yards. Three minutes later Rovers were 2-1 ahead and in dreamland. Inside-left Bert Whitehurst, having sauntered over to the right wing to lend a hand, produced a neat bit of skill and whipped over a driven cross from the bye-line which somehow squirmed between ‘kepper Millington and right-back Barber to reach the onrushing Farewell Watts who stooped to bundle the ball in with his head.That would have been it had it not been for Mr Hough. Sadly, Rovers went down 3-5 at Stamford Bridge in the replay, having given a good account of themselves and scoring through Whitehurst (2) and Watts.

Tranmere Rovers: Gray, Lewins, Livingstone, Barton, Dale, Lewis, Meston, watts, Dixon, Whitehurst, Urmson

Chelsea: Milligyon, Barber, Law, Russell, O’Dowd, Ferguson, Jackson, Rankin, Gallagher, Mills, Pearson

Referee E.V.Gough (Stoke-on–Trent)

Attendance: 13,300

V Chelsea 1932



MOTTO: UBI FIDES IBI LUX ET ROBUR which means "Where there is faith, there is light and strength."

Designed by Ned O'Toole, Paul Harmon and Oisín Ronan.
Special thanks to Tranmere Rovers Football club for the information.