Whitstable v Gravesend - 1957
by Ian Johnson
On Saturday 19th October 1957 Whitstable
played Gravesend & Northfleet in the FA Cup Third qualifying
round, the furthest Whitstable had at that time reached in the
There was a lot of excitement in the town in
anticipation of the game and the Whitstable Times reported that at
least 1,000 Gravesend supporters were expected to attend. One
special train arranged by the Gravesend Supporters’ Association
had already been fully booked, and second one put on.
Whitstable’s previous attendance record of 2,500 – for the
Kent Amateur Cup semi-final between Whitstable and Bromley in
1950-51, was expected to be broken.
Gravesend was one of the biggest clubs
outside the football league at that time and were high in the
Southern League table. The previous Saturday, they had drawn away
to the then league leaders Weymouth. Gravesend’s manager was
Lionel Smith, who had played for Arsenal as a defender, with a
short spell at Watford before he became Gravesend’s manager in
1955. The Gravesend team included a number of ex-league players,
including Jimmy Logie, a Scottish cap who had had a long and
distinguished career as a forward at Arsenal, another forward
Jimmy Scarth, ex-Tottenham Hotspur and Gillingham, who while with
Gillingham scored what is still the fastest-ever hat-trick in
league history, in two minutes v Leyton Orient in 1952, Jimmy
Robertson, an ex-Arsenal and Brentford winger, and Arthur Shaw, a
wing-half with a league career with Brentford, Arsenal, and
Watford. In those days, and up until 1962, there was a maximum
wage which meant that prominent non-league clubs could compete for
top league players stepping down to a lower level on equal terms
with lower league clubs.
Whitstable had more or less their regular
team selected by player-manager Len Henson, although Henson
himself was said to be recovering from flu and not fit. The only
surprise was that he decided to give a first-team debut to a new
signing, Tony Tozer, a left-winger had only played in one reserve
match since joining the club.
I wish I could say I remember all that
happened in the game. Because of the big crowd. my Dad and I could
not get our usual places up against the railing, and my Dad had to
help me up to sit on the wall backing on to the cricket ground,
near the corner by the cricket pavilion. So my view of the game
was somewhat restricted. I remember Jimmy Robertson, the rather
portly Gravesend left-winger, as he was playing up and down the
touchline near us, and I remember being thrilled to spot Jimmy
Logie, the biggest star of the Gravesend team, when he had the
The Whitstable Times reports that nearly all
the Whitstable players acquitted themselves well against the
vastly superior opposition, especially the hard-working
wing-halves O’Donoghue and Blizzard. Frank Cox made a good job
of holding Scarth for most of the game. The weakest link was Tozer,
who was said to have wasted most of the balls he received.
Gravesend scored after 15 minutes through
inside-left Thomas, who netted from a rebound after a shot from
Logie cannoned off the bar. Whitstable had some good chances, and
some bad luck with near misses before Thomas scored again in the
61st minute, when Whitstable’s keeper Barnes and centre-half
Howell went for the same ball in confusion, giving Thomas an easy
tap-in. Centre-forward Eric Day scored the third with a solo
run after 73 minutes.
After their 3-0 win at Whitstable, Gravesend
were surprisingly beaten in the last qualifying round by Guildford
City. After drawing at Guildford, they lost the replay 0-1 at
home. However, they finished the season as Southern League
Whitstable were bottom of the Kent League
table at the time, but that game must have inspired them, as they
finished that season…next to bottom. As we can see from Dave’s
table, Chatham finished at the bottom.
The crowd was said to total 2,500, but was
also said to have beaten the previous record, which was also
2,500. Maybe the club knew the exact totals, but only gave the
totals to the nearest hundred!
It was to be 1988 before Whitstable again
went as far as this in the FA Cup!
0 Gravesend & Northfleet... 3 (Thomas 15, 61, Day 73)
Howe, Cox, O’Donoghue, Howell, Blizzard, Austin, Kelly,
Bertchin, German, Tozer
Carson, McDonald, Shaw, English, Bridge, Scarth, Logie,
Day, Thomas, Robertson.