March 13 2017

A little bit of football history was made at the weekend: for the first time since 1893, two FA Cup quarter-finals were won by five or more goals – Arsenal and someone else. In 1893, one of the beaten sides was Middlesbrough Ironopolis, of the Northern League.

Back then the league had just six teams: Newcastle East End (who became United half way through the season), Sheffield United – who also had a Football League side but got better crowds in the Northern – Middlesbrough, Stockton and Darlington.

The Nops, as Ironopolis were known, played in maroon and bright green stripes on the Paradise Field, pretty much where Ayresome Park used to be. It was there that, on February 4 1893, 12,000 watched a 3-2 FA Cup victory over Notts County.

Charlie Watts, later to play for Newecastle United (if not for the Rolling Stones) was said by the local papers to have been “a capable custodian”; Bob Chatt – who memory suggests was to score the fastest-ever FA Cup final goal, for Aston Villa – “stuck to Elliott like an American postmaster to his office.”

What was so espcially adhesive about American postmasters is uncertain. Mr Dan Harden, our man in Kansas, may have thoughts on the matter.

Fifteen thousand peopled Paradise for the quarter-final with Preston North End. It ended 2-2, the Nops walloped 7-0 in the replay.

Ironopolis were already Northern League champions, having dropped just a point when their ten match season ended on January 23 and retaining the title they’d won in the previous two seasons.

The following year they joined the Football League second division, found that money couldn’t buy quite as much as they thought and folded at the end of the season.

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