West Hartlepool qualified for the final of this tournament by initially beating Saltburn at home on 19th November 1904 by five goals to one in the third qualifying round. The goals came from Hodgson, a Black penalty, and a hat-trick from Parkinson.
A trip to Skinningrove was the reward in the 4th qualifying round on 10th December, with West winning the 'battle' by three goals to one. Skinningrove's full back Forrest was dismissed and teammate Tyson also received his marching orders, but refused to leave the pitch. The referee faced a hostile crowd, and not only did two Constables and an Inspector escort him form the ground, they also had to give him safe passage out of the village! West's scorers were Robinson with two, and another Black penalty.
Grangetown Athletic were beaten 2-1 at home in the first round proper on 7th January 1905, Fairweather and Trechmann netting.
In the second round, West were drawn away to Nottingham Jardine's on the 28th January. A journey of such a distance for West would undoubtedly have lost them money, but despite offering a guarantee to Jardine's they would not budge for less than £100. As a compromise, the game was played at the City Ground, the home of Nottingham Forest, in the hope that a bigger gate could be achieved. West ran out easy winners by four goals to one, with Robinson bagging the lot.
More difficult opposition was faced in the quarter final on 18th February at Darlington St. Augustine's. However, in front of 4000 fans, Fairweather scored the only goal of a close contest, putting the West side through to the semi-final. 'The Northern Final', as it was then known, was played at the Victoria Ground, Stockton on 11th March. A crowd of 8000 saw Hyslop and Fairweather score the vital goals as West beat twice winners Bishop Auckland by two goals to one.
The final was to be played at the ground of Shepherd's Bush F.C, Loftus Road, London, against a strong Clapton side, considered to by many to be one of the best amateur teams outside of the Southern League.
After being in existence for nigh on twenty three years, West had entered various competitions with varying degrees of success, being successful only in the Durham Amateur Cup in 1899-1900 season. West really were the successors of the old NER club, a side that did fairly well in it's time, but never succeeded in attracting the followers of the Rugby code, whereas West have.
In wintry conditions, the team set off from West Hartlepool railway station, on the morning of Friday 7th April, on the 09.50 train bound for Kings Cross. A big crowd was present to see them off. A total travelling party of 28 travelled, including the two players chosen as reserves, Warner and Watson. The party were to stay at the Charterhouse Hotel, in Charterhouse Square. The party was scheduled to arrive home on the Tuesday evening at 8.20 p.m.
On the first leg of the journey the team amused themselves by partaking in 'parlour' games, until they reached York. A twenty minute halt at York, gave the players a chance to stretch their legs, and enable those who were in need of extra breakfast, to obtain refreshments. On the journey from York to Doncaster, Tommy Watson and Pat Holmes entertained the party with a fine array of songs. At Peterborough the train was boarded by the staff of the Great Northern Railway, who provided refreshments. A vigorous, almost primitive, attack was made on the meals, but nevertheless, they were enjoyed and appreciated by all. The squad arrived at Kings Cross on time, fed and watered, and transferred to their hotel headquarters.
The morning of the match brought weather which seemed conducive to playing football. Upon inspection, the Shepherds Bush pitch was in tip-top condition, and all the factors pointed to a enthralling encounter.
The kick off time arrived, and the Clapton team where first on to the playing field, and they received a friendly ovation from a predominantly Southern crowd. West followed suit, and their supporters in the ground cheered and applauded as loudly as possible as their small numbers dictated. They also received a polite reception from the Clapton followers.
The first thing that struck the observer was the size of the Clapton team. Not only did they seem to be well turned out, they were a much bigger team than West Hartlepool. West only had one player above 5' 9", in Otto Trechmann, who stood marginally over six feet tall. In fact the keeper Bainbridge was only 5' 4". It would be a matter of only ninety minutes, to see if the pluckiness and hard work of the minnows of West Hartlepool could overcome the sheer difference in size, and presumably, strength of their opponents.
Amongst the spectators at the ground was the M.P. for West Hartlepool, Sir Christopher Furness, who was also club president. Alongside him where Mr Stephen Furness, and Mr William C Gray, two influential local men who were sports fans through and through.
It came as no surprise when the skipper Hyslop lost the toss, as he had won it only once in the previous rounds. West were forced to kick off with a glorious sun in their faces. Immediately the sun gave Clapton the advantage, and they tried to exploit this by playing in high drooping balls, which the Hegartys found extremely difficult to clear. The Clapton forwards used their greater stature, speed and skill to some effect, passing the ball gracefully, and for the first twenty minutes of the game they had the lion's share of possession. However, Clapton could not convert this early superiority into a lead, as they were off target with their shooting, and West's defence stood solid.
Soon though, the West forwards began to break into Clapton territory, attacking with more purpose. Although not as skilful as there opponents, they certainly knew where the goal was, and were taking the shortest route possible, in an attempt to score. It seemed almost certain that they would break the deadlock, had the Clapton defence played legitimately. With their over-physical challenges, and continuous holding being overlooked by the referee, the West players suffered, particularly as they were not used to such unsportsmanlike behaviour.
However, retribution was close at hand, and another incisive attack from West resulted in them gaining a corner. Larkin centred beautifully, and in the face of a resolute and sturdy defence Trechmann gave the goalkeeper no chance with a powerful strike. West were one goal to the good. The supporters gave grand voice, and the goal gave the players fresh impetus.
The half back line of Hyslop, Black and Stokes began to totally dominate, and were making good openings for their forwards. Their presence around the Clapton box was not appreciated and first Stokes, and then Robinson had to receive treatment for challenges that went unpunished.
Wilding, the Clapton stopper, under immense pressure from the West forwards, gathered the ball and tried to sprint away with it. The referee finally penalised him and decided to give West a free kick for 'carrying'. Dick Hegarty was entrusted with the kick, and he could hardly see the goal for the ranks of Clapton players in front of him. Nevertheless, he fired in a shot, hard and low, that hardly seemed to leave the ground – a 'grasscutter'. The keeper had no chance, and the score was 2-0 to West. Shortly afterwards, the referee blew the whistle, and the players retired to the pavilion for lemons.
At the start of the second half, with the sun at their backs, West began to fusillade the Clapton goal. Larkin was playing an outstanding game at outside right, and his trickery enthralled the crowd. He rang rings around the opposing half back, and only some very solid cover defending by Bayley kept the score down. Trechmann was sending in some stinging shots, and when Clapton tried to break away, he ensured that the forward line held tight.
For twenty minutes, the West forwards were trying their best to score and make history, but it was the ex-public schoolboy Trechmann who had the proud honour of scoring the third with a high curling shot that masterfully beat Wilding.
The game seemed won for West with just over twenty minutes to go. The three goal deficit though, seemed to spur Clapton on, rather than demoralise them. The game reverted to how the first half commenced – all Clapton. Folke on the right, Purnell in the centre, and the Farnfields on the left, all played with great individual skill and as a great passing unit. Their brilliant movement and distribution at times bewildered West. Despite frantic efforts to break the Clapton attack up, the inevitable happened, and they conceded a goal.
Immediately after the restart, Clapton continued there merciless attack on the Hartlepool goal, encouraged by their vociferous support. Black, who had defended stoutly all game, had to clear off the line. Dick Hegarty also played with yeoman resolve. All this was to no avail though, as Clapton reduced the arrears even further, by bagging a second. The West fans were now undoubtedly nervous, fearing a draw, with some even contemplating a defeat.
However, the tide turned, and in the face of such an onslaught, the West defence dug deep, and stood solid, starting to break up the flowing play of the burly Clapton forwards. The Hegarty brothers fought and cleared beautifully, and eventually, to great relief, the referee blew the whistle for full time.
West were the proud winners of the Amateur Cup, consigning Clapton to their third cup defeat of the season, as they had already lost in the finals of the London Charity Cup and the West Ham Hospital Cup. They were the twelfth winners in the history of the trophy, and became the eighth time a team from the North East had won the trophy.
Despite the players being a bit off and under the cosh for the first part of the game, they all performed magnificently for the remainder. Nevertheless, the trophy was heading North, and the man of the match was undoubtedly Otto Trechmann.
The club's president, Sir Christopher Furness, was well received when he returned thanks on behalf of the team, to the crowd assembled in front of the grandstand, for the flattering reception that had been afforded to the winners.
At 7.30 on the evening, the team, committee, and a few invited guests, made their way to the famous Holborn Restaurant, to partake of the hospitalities of their genial and generous President, Sir Christopher Furness M.P, who personally and individually welcomed everybody with great enthusiasm. They dined on a fine sumptuous banquet. Telegrams of congratulations were received from the Mayor of West Hartlepool, the Durham FA, Bishop Auckland FC (winners in 1896 and 1900), Crook FC (winners in 1901), and Expansion FC, amongst many others. The evening was quite simply, and rightly so, a night of speeches praising the efforts of the team, and a night of splendid celebration.
On the Monday evening, the club had a pre-arranged obligation to fill, with a game against the Oxford City team. As a healthy guarantee had already been paid to West, and transport arranged, they had to fulfil their commitment. However, an obviously somewhat subdued display resulted in a 7-1 reverse.
With the team due to return victorious on the Tuesday evening, two brakes were to be in attendance to meet the champions on their arrival home. They were to be headed by The Old Operatic Band, and a victory parade was to be made of Church Square, Stockton Street, Musgrave Street and on to Lynn Street to the Market Hotel.
Local enthusiasm for the victory, took place in the form of an extraordinary demonstration of supporters waiting for the team to arrive. Fully one hour before the train was due in, people had started to mass in the area around the station. By the time the train, greeted by a herald of foghorns, steamed into West Hartlepool station, Church Street and the intended parade area were thronged with a mass of people, with the colours of the West team, amber and black, in clear evidence.
As the party alighted from the train, the band sparked into life with the tune 'Home Sweet Home', and as they boarded the brakes in preparation for the parade, the cheering and applause from those in attendance was deafening. The task of the Police to make a path for the brakes to travel through was no easy one, and there was more than one case of fainting to be attended to.
The notes of 'The Conquering Hero' were drowned completely by the wave of cheering that swept through the crowded streets. Hyslop, the popular captain of the team, held the handsome ribbon bedecked cup aloft. However, there was to be great disappointment for the masses thronged in the announced route, for Superintendent Snaith of the local Constabulary, 'in interest of safety', redirected the procession down Whitby Street, along Surtees Street, and onto the Market Hotel, missing out 75% of the intended journey. Those who had wisely avoided the crush at the station were to miss out on seeing their heroes because of this decision. People dashed to Lynn Street, to the Market Hotel, and when the team appeared at the window of the billiard room, the crowd outside was equivalent to that which greeted them at the station, all traffic in the area at a standstill. The decision of the Police to divert the parade led to much disappointment, one observer commenting that 'the Police evidently rule the world', with their non-consultative way of thinking.
Mr J Proud, the well liked honourable secretary of the club, shouted out , through his smile, thanks for the heartiness of the reception. The trophy was brought out again, and one by one the players appeared, each receiving tumultuous applause, with the greatest ovation reserved for the goalscoring hero Otto Trechmann.
An evening of further celebration, speeches and general back slapping was held in the Market Hotel that night.
The following evening at the Victoria Ground, a 12-a-side charity match took place between teams representing West Rugby Football Club and Expansion Association Football Club. Most of the squad were present, and Tommy Hegarty, Fred Black and Robert Warner, all turned out for Expansion, who won the match by two goals to one. The trophy was on display and a decent crowd were in attendance to see the victors and their reward.
Thanks to Colin Foster.