Leicester Fosse

Links With The Past: Leicester Fosse's FA Cup Clash With Watford

Club Historian John Hutchinson's Links with The Past series continues with look at items related to a Leicester Fosse match over 113 years ago.
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On 16 January 1909, First Division Leicester Fosse played Southern League Watford in a first round FA Cup tie. This was the first ever meeting between the two clubs. In the Leicester City archives there is a 113-year-old postcard commemorating this tie. 

The venue was Watford’s Cassio Road ground, described in the 1905 Book of Football as 'a beautifully drained ground' that was 'as near to perfection as could be desired'.

On its west side was a pavilion with a clock tower and two small stands. Bath water was carried to the pavilion in buckets. The below picture of this ground is from the Club’s archive collection. 

Watford’s manager was John Goodall, the ex-England international forward who had played for Preston North End’s league and cup double winning ‘Invincibles’ in 1888/89. As a player he had scored against Fosse for New Brighton Tower and for Glossop.

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Cassio Road
Cassio Road

The tie took place at Watford's former home, Cassio Road.

Watford’s centre-forward was the ex-Fossil player Archie Hubbard, who was the Southern League’s leading goalscorer that season.

In front of an estimated crowd of 6,000 with gate receipts of £261, Watford went ahead when Fred Cleaver scored from close quarters, but centre-forward Fred Shinton equalised for the visitors before half-time and the match ended as a 1-1 draw.

Four days later, on 20 January 1909, an estimated Wednesday afternoon crowd of 10,000 saw Leicester Fosse defeat Watford 3-1 at Filbert Street. Jimmy Donnelly put Fosse ahead and Dave Walker added a second a few minutes later.

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Leicester Fosse 1908/09
Leicester Fosse 1908/09

Photos of the Leicester Fosse squad were taken ahead of the 1908/09 campaign following their promotion to the First Division.

Watford scored on the stroke of half time but Robert ‘Leggy’ Turner, soon to depart for Everton, scored a third for Fosse in the second half making the final score 3-1.

In Edwardian times it was the fashion to produce cards commemorating victories and defeats in matches. Some of these belong in the Club’s archives.

They often contained doggerel verse like the lines on this card which were addressed to Watford supporters and written by ‘J.M.P. The Fosse Poet.’ The first three lines refer to the game at Cassio Road. The last three lines refer to the replay at Filbert Street.

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Leicester Fosse Photo Album 1911/12
Leicester Fosse Photo Album 1911/12

Fosse goalkeeper Jonty Starbuck is featured on a page of the 1911/12 'Fosse Photo Album'.

By the luck of the draw
'Twas at Watford we saw
The Fossils play you in a tie.
But in our own cave
No mistake we have made
You’re plucky so don’t heave a sigh.

The Club’s archives also contain two other items relating to this tie. There is a very badly folded photograph of the Leicester Fosse team taken at the beginning of the 1908/09 season to commemorate promotion to the top flight.

Fortunately, there is a postcard version of the same picture which was published at the time and is in much better condition. Finally, the Fosse goalkeeper in both ties was Jonty Starbuck. He is featured on a page of the ‘Fosse Photo Album’ published three years later.

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