Royal Marines Football
"Corps football whats it all about"
In Memory of
"The Class of 1910 double winners"
FA Amateur Cup & Army Cup Winners
Royal Marines Light Infantry (Gosport) "The Lilywhites"
By RMFA Historian Shaun Foster
FA Amateur Cup
During my research trawling through back copies of the Royal Marines Globe & Laurel magazines I came across a splendid feat that saw the Royal Marines Light Infantry football team from Forton Barracks Gosport win a unique double that had never been achieved before nor was it ever done again. In 1910 they had secured not only the Army Cup beating the 87th Royal Irish Fusiliers 2-0 but also the FA Amateur Cup beating South Bank (Middlesborough) 2-1. The more I read the more I was drawn in to this unique bunch of men. Nicknamed the Lilywhites due to their white playing kit. They were not the first RM team to win the Army Cup that accolade went to the Royal Marines Artillery in 1904 when beating Service Bn RE 1-0.
1910 Army Cup Run
1st Round; R.M.L.I (Gosport) 1, 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers 0, after extra time.
2nd Round; R.M.L.I (Gosport) 3, Royal Marines Artillery 1, after extra time.
3rd Round; R.M.L.I (Gosport) 5, 1st Battalion King's Royal Rifles 2
4th Round; R.M.L.I (Gosport) 2, 1st Battalion Scots Guards 1, after extra time.
5th Round; R.M.L.I (Gosport) 1 R.M.L.I (Plymouth) 0 played at Forton Fields 19th Feb 1910
Semi Final; R.M.L.I (Gosport) 1, 1st Battalion Black Watch 0
Final; R.M.L.I. (Gosport) 2 (Smith, Jack), 87th Royal Irish Fusiliers 0 at Army Athletic ground Aldershot, attendance 20,000
1910 FA Amateur Cup run
1st Round; R.M.L.I 4 16th Coy R.G.A 3 played at Forton Barracks
2nd Round; R.M.L.I 4 37th Coy R.G.A 0 played at Forton Barracks
3rd Round; R.A.M.C (Aldershot) 1 R.M.L.I 2 played at Aldershot
4th Round; R.M.L.I 2 Scottish Rifles 0 played at Forton Barracks
1st Round; Worthing 0 R.M.L.I 4 played at Worthing
2nd Round; Bournemouth 1 R.M.L.I 3 played at Bournemouth
3rd Round; Bromley 1 R.M.L.I. (Gosport) 2 played at Bromley
Quarter Final; Custom House 0 R.M.L.I. (Gosport) 2 played at Custom House
Semi Final; R.M.L.I. (Gosport) 4 Tuffnell Park 0 played at Fratton Park Portsmouth
Final; R.M.L.I. (Gosport) 2 South Bank (Middlesbrough) 1 played at Bishop Auckland 16/04/1910
1910 Army Cup Winners R.M.L.I. (Forton Barracks, Gosport)
RMLI beat 87th Royal Irish Fusiliers 2-0 thanks to goals from Private Smith & Lance Corporal Jack at Army Athletic ground Aldershot on Mon 28th March 1910 in front of 20,000 fans including the Prince & Princess of Wales & Princess Mary.
* Corporal George Osman Exford received a Telegram the morning of the game to say his only brother had been killed in an accident.
Back row L to R Maj F.C. Edwards (President), LCpl Wilkinson, LCpl Turner, Cpl Hirst (Capt),
Sgt David James Gowney (Manager). Middle row L to R Pte Revall, Pte Yates, Sgt Wiseman.
Front row L to R Cpl Exford, Pte White, Bugler Holness, LCpl Jack, Pte Spackman. Missing from the photo is goal scorer Private Smith who had replaced the injured Private Spackman.
1910 The Princess of Wales Presents Col. Cotter, R.M.L.I., with the Army Cup.
1910 Amateur Cup Winners Royal Marines Light Infantry, Forton Baracks Gosport 2 (Jack, Holness) South Bank (Middlesbrough) 1 played at Bishop Auckland on 16th April 1910
Back row L to R LCpl Wilkinson, LCpl Turner, Cpl Hirst (Captain)
Middle row L to R standing Pte Bill Revall, Pte Pinky Yates, Sgt Wiseman. Sgt David James Gowney (Manager)
Middle row L to R seated Sgt-Maj Sullivan, Colonel-Commandant F.G. Cotter, Colonel A.E. Marchant C,B, Capt & Adjt R.H. Darwall.
Front row L to R Cpl George Osman Exford, Pte White, Bugler Holness, Pte Smith, LCpl Jack
The route to Amateur Cup final:-
Round 3 Bromley 1 RMLI (Gosport) 2
Quarter Final Custom House 0 RMLI (Gosport) 2
Semi Final RMLI (Gosport) 4 Tufnell Park 0 played at Portsmouth
Final RMLI (Gosport) 2 South Bank (Middlesbrough) 1 played at Bishop Auckland 16/04/1910
The Amateur cup match report RMLI 2 South Bank 1.
The final round of this competition was decided at Bishop Auckland on 16th April 1910 before a crowd of about 10,000 football enthusiasts. The "Lilywhites" left Forton on their long journey north, at 8-30 a.m on Friday 15th, reaching Bishop Auckland at 8 p.m the same evening. On their arrival they were met and cordially received by the inhabitants, and the leading officials of the town club made all the necessary arrangements, and afterwards acted as guides during the stay, the Talbot Hotel being the Headquarters.
The team accepted an invitation to spend the evening at the Hippodrome, where they received a great reception from the audience. On Saturday morning, after inspecting the football ground, a visit was paid to the Castle, the residence of the Bishop of Durham, arriving back at the Talbot by noon.
Trains had by this time commenced to bring hundreds of the Banker's supporters into the town, the majority of whom sported immense rosettes. The inhabitants of Bishop Auckland, however, strongly fancied the "Lilywhites" as was evident by the large display of our colours.
The weather was threatening at the time of kick off, and after the interval, rain fell in torrents, lasting all through the second half. Spackman not having recovered from the injury received at Aldershot in the Army Cup Final, Smith lined out, and proved once again a great success.
The luck of the toss went to the soldiers, but anyone who saw the game in the first eight minutes could only come to one conclusion, and that was, it looked a walk-over for the Steelworkers. Howling first brought off two brilliant saves, and the quick return to the other end looked disastrous. Prest first shot for goal, and there was a few exciting moments when RMLI goalkeeper Turner only partially saved. The Bankers forwards pounced on the custodian, but by remarkable luck a bye was the result of such a dangerous melee.
Then came the "Lilywhites" turn, but instead of clustering together, they kept their places, and when at the end of 15 minutes LCpl Jack headed the leather past Howling in the Bankers goal, there were loud bursts of applause. It was a grand goal, neatly worked for by Corporal George Exford, who centred with great judgment. The Marines went straight for goal in a more business like method than their opponents, and their footwork was brilliant, and quite puzzled the Northerners in midfield. The two extreme wingers Exford and Smith, were splendid, and when once they got possession they were hard to dispossess. The Marines appeared to have their plans all carefully worked out, and they held a marked supremacy over their rivals.
The Northerners were exceedingly weak in their attack, and shot erratically. Twice Cartwright kicked wildly over the bar when well placed, and J. Carr missed a glorious chance by shooting wide when only 10 yards from the goal. These failures spoiled South Bank's chances, and when ten minutes later Bugler Holness added a second goal for the Marines, all hopes of victory had vanished. This second success was one of the best goals ever scored on the Auckland ground. Exford again swung the leather into the centre of the goal, and the ball was headed by no fewer than three of the Marines' players before it finally came to Holness who placed it in a corner of the net. Rain fell heavily when the teams started after the interval. South Bank once again gave indications of their great eagerness, Oakley was temporarily injured, the result of a collision with White, and during his absence, which was only for a few minutes, offside spoilt many good chances.
On his return, the Bankers went at it hammer and tongs, and when Biggs banged the leather into the net with a well judged drive, the excitement was great. Hats were thrown up all round the field. The Bankers were much in evidence after this, the heavy ground appearing to their liking. How the soldiers' goal escaped on several occasions was wonderful. The equaliser seemed to come, but just at the critical moment the Northern forwards would either fail to gather the ball, or the heads of the opposing backs popped up, or the agile Turner leapt into the air and brought off a clever save. The Marines' had a grand defence, Hirst especially being seen to great advantage. South Bank kept up pressure to the close, but the equaliser never came despite many valiant atempts, and they had to retire, a beaten team.
There was much to be admired about the soldiers' play, their honest grit and undoubted cleverness, backed up by plenty of vigour, won them the cup. They were a brave lot. fearing nothing, and tackling like terriers worrying a rat. They were extremely dangerous in attack when they did get an opening, and impregnable in defence, thanks to tactics pursued by their opponents. Their forwards slung the ball from wing to wing with lightning rapidity, never waiting to see if they could elude several opponents before doing so, and were admirably served by a set of halves and two backs, who were gluttons for work. The soldiers all played a great game, and it would be extremely difficult to make any distinctions. At the confusion of the match the Cup was presented to Hirst by Mr B.D. Woodall, of the English Football Association.
R.M.L.I (Gosport), W. Turner, V. Wilkinson, W. Hirst (Captain), B. Revall, G. Yates, H. Wiseman, G. Exford, White, J. Holness, A. Jack, Smith.
South Bank, E. Howling, T. Rand, E. Oakley, G. Biggs, A. J. Priest (Captain), W. Carr, J. Thompson, J. Carr, H. Carr, J. Cartwright, J. Jones.
A TOWNS WELCOME
The victory of the Royal Marines was an extremely popular one, and it was a proud moment for them when the coveted Trophy and medals were landed on them.
The Team left Bishop Auckland on Saturday night, reaching London in the early hours of Sunday morning. The Union Jack Club was made the headquarters until Monday afternoon, when the team entrained for Portsmouth. On their arrival at Gosport Hard, they were accorded a splendid ovation by the tremendous crowd gathered to receive them, and had it not been for the forethought in having extra police and Marines on duty, it would have been impossible for them to have made any move at all.
Eventually the fountain in the square was reached, where the team received a Town's Welcome from the District Council.