The afternoon of Saturday 29 April, 1933, was a rain soaked one in London. Earlier the same day, a violent thunder storm had broken across the capital and the late night edition of the London Evening Standard reported the absence of the King at the 1933 FA Cup Final was due to ‘the uncertain weather.’
Thankfully, for the 92,950 football supporters who had braved the elements to pack into Wembley Stadium, come 3 o’clock, the downpour had abated.
Everton 3 v 0 Manchester City: The Story Of The 1933 FA Cup Final
By Neil Adderley
Promoted as 1930-31 Second Division champions, crowned Football League Champions in 1931-32 and now, in 1933, with the biggest winning margin in the final for 18 years, convincing 3-0 winners of the FA Cup.
This was a sequence of success never before or since accomplished and, undoubtedly, one never to be repeated. Everton Football Club found themselves at one of the highest pinnacle’s of their long illustrious history.
The 1933 final would be Everton’s second cup final win, the first at Wembley, and remain the only FA Cup final appearance for Everton legends, goalkeeper Ted Sagar and the goal scoring phenomenon that was Dixie Dean.
It would also be 33 years before the club tasted another FA Cup final victory.
This, the 62nd final and just the 11th to be held at Wembley, will also forever be remembered as the first in which the players were allocated and wore numbered shirts.
The Everton players wore 1 to 11, with ‘keeper Sagar taking the number 1 jersey and Dean, sporting the now legendary strikers signature, number 9.
That superstar Dean should be the first to wear the iconic ‘9’ shirt, is certainly a fitting tribute to arguably the greatest ever centre-forward. Wembley opponents, Manchester City, were allocated numbers 12 to 22, with outside-left Eric Brook wearing 12 and the Citizens ‘keeper Langford, donning the number 22 shirt.
Tickets for the all Lancashire final, with standing in the East Enclosure priced at a grand ‘2/6 (including tax),’ were as gold dust and reported to have been sold out ‘weeks’ before the event. This prompted The Guardian to forewarn ticketless supporters of ‘ten miles of barbed wire’ to be strategically placed around the stadium in the hope of preventing ‘unauthorised entry.’
On the day of the final, The London Evening News ran with a front page spread, including a biographical entry on each player and portrait photographs of the probable line-ups, as well as a wonderful headline and description of the exodus of supporters from the North West of England to London:
‘Lancashire Invades London For Cup Final – 200,000 Visitors Arrive In The Early Hours
Lancashire invaded London today for the Football Association Cup Final – Manchester City v. Everton – at Wembley.
The first train-load arrived at 3 a.m, and from then until 9 o’clock 140 special trains brought 200,000 football fans from all over the country.
At least half of them do not even hope to get inside the ground – it holds fewer than 100,000 – and all tickets were sold weeks ago.
No decision has yet been made whether the King will be present; it all depends on the weather.
Manchester lads are a bit worried. Their forward line will not be chosen until just before the kick-off for there is still some doubt whether Tilson’s injured leg will be fit enough for him to play.’
The Manchester ‘lads’ worries were proved to be fully justified. Fred Tilson’s leg apparently failed to be ‘fit enough’ and City’s top scorer would miss the final. Manager Wilf Wild, chose to move Alec Herd from inside-right to centre-forward and brought in Bobby Marshall to replace the injured Tilson.
It would be Dixie Dean, in consultation with Ted Sagar, who would pick the managerless Everton side.
The team selection was not without controversy as Dean took the decision to drop semi-final match winner Ted Critchley in favour of the precocious teenage outside-right, Albert Geldard.
With the weather proving too much for King George V, the teams were, according to The Times, introduced to guests of honour the Duke and Duchess of York who were joined by a wide range of the great and good at Wembley that afternoon, including Lord Derby, chairman of the Football Association Sir Charles Clegg, Austrian envoy Baron von Franckenstein and the touring West Indies cricket team.
The packed crowd were entertained pre-match with a somewhat eclectic mix of tunes. Led by The Band of His Majesty’s Irish Guards, ‘The Programme Of Music’ ranged from ‘The Soldiers Of The King’ march, to a waltz medley entitled ‘The Gay 90’s.’
The Irish Guards also threw in ‘The Teddy Bears Picnic’ for good measure.
The revelry continued with ‘Community Singing,’ led by conductor Mr. T. P. Ratcliffe, accompanied by His Majesty’s Royal and Blues Horse Guards Band. The climax to the proceedings followed at 2.50 p.m. as the 92,950 supporters rose as one, to belt out a stirring rendition of ‘God Save The King.’
Once Sheffield referee, Mr. Eddie Wood, had ordered the captains to the centre circle, it was Everton skipper Dean who won the toss and chose to kick-off with ‘the sun on our backs.’
An earlier flipping of a coin had seen Manchester City given the choice of determining the teams colours. With the clubs usually running out in blue, the FA’s ruling, requiring both teams to wear alternative colours, was invoked.
Thankfully for Evertonians, the Manchester club decided upon wearing red, meaning Everton would play in the specially-tailored-for-the-final, white shirts, black shorts and black socks with royal blue trimmings.
As both teams lined-up, in the familiar to the era 2-3-5 formation, it was Everton who quickly took control of the game, with imperious captain Dean leading the way.
The City right-back, Sid Cann, was given a torrid time by flying outside-left Jimmy Stein, and it was the Scot, that will forever have the distinction of being Everton’s first ever Wembley goal scorer, who gave Everton a 41st minute lead.
Under pressure from the on-rushing Dixie Dean, the Manchester City goalkeeper Len Langford, fumbled a Cliff Britton cross, allowing Stein to steal in and find the empty net with his right foot. It would not be the last time Langford was to see Dixie Dean on this historic afternoon.
It was City who came out with the greater purpose after the break yet, despite plenty of possession, they failed to breach a strong Everton defence.
With goalkeeper Ted Sagar largely untroubled, it was Everton who doubled their lead seven minutes into the second half. Once more, City ‘keeper Langford failed to deal with yet another accurate Britton centre from the right, and inevitably, it was left to the predator Dean to put the ball, the goalkeeper and himself into the City net.
At 2-0 down, Manchester City pushed to get back in the game but the Toffees defence held firm, with the stand-out ‘Prince of full-backs’ Warney Cresswell, putting in an ‘almost perfect performance’ on the left flank of the Everton back line.
In the 80th minute, the near 50,000 Evertonians inside Wembley could finally begin celebrating in earnest. The City defence, including a young Matt Busby at right-half back, failed to deal with an Albert Geldard corner and the 5ft. 6ins. ‘wee’ Jimmy Dunn rose majestically above his marker to head home the Toffee’s third.
The 1933 FA Cup was secured and it was the great William Ralph ‘Dixie’ Dean who led his team up the famous steps to the Wembley royal box. There he received the iconic trophy from the Duchess of York.
The Manchester City captain, Sam Cowan, was later gracious in defeat:
“We have no quarrel. Dean was an inspiration to his men, and the whole 11 played awfully well.”
Cowan would go on to lead Manchester City to FA Cup glory the following season.
But 1933 was Everton’s year, and Dean could now add a FA Cup winners medal to his two Football League Championships and cement his place in world football’s hall of fame.
When mentioning the great man’s name, it would be remiss not to recall his mind-blowing goal scoring achievements; in a career stretching 16 years, Dixie Dean scored an incredible total of 473 goals in 502 games, including an amazing 37 hat-tricks.
In the 1927-28 season, aged just 21, Dean led Everton to the English Football League Championship with a return of 60 league goals. A record that will surely always be out of reach.
After celebrating with a glitzy winners reception and dinner in the Edward VII rooms, at the aptly named Victoria Hotel in London, the triumphant Everton team eventually returned to Liverpool on the following Monday, where they received a hero’s welcome from huge crowds gathered at the Town Hall.
Here the players were honoured with a civic reception by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Alfred Gates. Evertonians later lined the streets from the city centre and up to Walton and Goodison Park, as the players paraded the FA Cup aboard a replica of the horse-drawn carriage previously used for the club’s first FA cup win, back in 1906.
From the ever reliable Ted Sagar (app. 495) in goal, the strong yet classy defending of Cliff Britton (240) (3), Billy Cook (250) (6), Tommy White (201) (66), and Warney Cresswell (306) (1).
The midfield pace, trickery and goal threat offered by Jimmy Stein (215) (65), Jimmy Dunn (155) (49) and Albert Geldard (179) (37), complemented by the strength of Jock Thompson (296) (5).
The precision passing and vision of Tommy Johnson (161) (65), and of course, the force of will, the leadership and naturally, the goal return of the immense William Ralph ‘Dixie’ Dean (431) (377), the 1933 FA Cup winning team will rightly be remembered as one of the greatest to represent Everton Football Club.
Very few teams, before or since, have been more deserving of such an accolade. Eight Englishmen, two Scots and a Northern Irishman, who, after a 27 year hiatus, brought the cup back to Goodison Park.
Everton FC: The 1933 Road To Wembley:
Rd. 3: Leicester vs Everton: 2-3 (Dean, Stein, Dunn)
Rd. 4: Everton vs Bury: 3-1 (Johnson x 2, Dean)
Rd. 5: Everton vs Leeds United: 2-0 (Dean, Stein)
Rd. 6: Everton vs Luton Town: 6-0 (Stein x 2, Johnson x 2, Dunn, Dean)
S/F. Molineux: Everton vs West Ham United: 2-1 (Dunn, Critchley)
Final: 29 April at Wembley Stadium, Attendance: 92,950
Everton 3 (Stein 41’, Dean 52’, Dunn 80’) Manchester City 0
Everton: Sagar, Cook, Cresswell, Britton, White,
Thomson, Geldard, Dunn, Dean, Johnson, Stein.
Manchester City: Langford, Cann, Dale, Busby,
Cowan, Bray, Toseland, Marshall, Herd, Mcmullan, Brook.
Referee: Mr. E. Wood. Sheffield.
*Much of the research for this piece was gathered using the fantastic resource that is The Everton Collection website. Visit, use and enjoy it, here.