Smith Final Trial of Endurance - Worst Conditions for Many Years.
Halstead 3 Platt 2
At the end of the Smith's Senior Charity Cup Final on Boxing Day, fought-out with tremendous courage and spirit under the most atrocious conditions I have ever experienced, 21 drenched players slithered like drowned rats to the refuge of the Ark-like pavillion, following the Great Flood, writes "Gamesman".
The 22nd player, Dave Ingram-Seal, Platt's outside-left, had to be carried off on a stretcher with a suspected cracked shin-bone. This followed an 88th minute goalmouth collision with a mud-caked figure, whom it was impossible to identify in the thunderous gloom.
And that incident just about put paid to Platt's valiant attempts to deny Halstead the cup on the wettest December 26th since 1886. Halstead's narrow victory was deserved, despite a 29th minute disputed goal that levelled the scores at one-all. With a slight weight advantage over their red-shirted opponents, Halstead lasted out better the trying conditions underfoot, purely because they let the ball do the work for them.
More experienced in such matters, this energy-conserving policy of Halstead's told in the end over Platt's honest endeavour. But if Platt had only swung the ball about and exploited the weakness on the left flank, where right-back Percy Dicker was often caught out of position, instead of hugging and almost carrying the ball to it's intended destination, they might well have turned the tables on their older opponents.
Halstead switched on the heat right from the start, forcing four corners in quick succession. Only grim defensive work and Tom Marmont's positional sense, when he was in line to fist over a flashing header by skilful Ron Parker, saw Platt safely through the seige.
Then without any warning, Platt took the lead as the result of a bad fumble by goalkeeper Jack Brooker. The ball trickled clear, Dicker blocked a shot, and Colin Scott crashed home the rebound for a terrific goal.
Halstead were morally shaken and they found it tough going with the powerful following wind, to do anything but chase uselessly after passes that were far too hard or blaze over the bar.
Three minutes later, Platt's centre-forward, Godfrey Bathurst, flung himself headlong to connect with a cross and sent the ball rocketing into the net for an out-of-this-world goal. Referee Mr B. Burt however ruled that Johnny Snow was offside, although the inside-left was not interfering with the play.
A deep sigh of relief was expelled gratefully by Halstead, who gathered their dripping loin-cloths about them and once more charged into the Platt goal area. Play see-sawed from end to end, with Halstead's dashing centre-forward, Tom James, having the best chance, when he beat Siegfried Malzigus, the stocky centre-half, only to blast over the top.
In the 29th minute, however, James made up for this shocking blunder to equalise. In a battle for Dicker's lofted centre from the half-way line, he and Marmont collided heavily and the ball ricocheted into the net, accompanied by disputed appeals for "offside".
It took a little time for Marmont to recover from the knock, and then Halstead, spurred on by the patriotic cries from their wellington-booted fans, surged upfield in an all-out attempt to snatch the psychological goal.
And it came four minutes after the equaliser, with James again the scorer. A shot was chested down by Nigel Bennett, the left-back, and the centre-forward stabbed out a foot to send the ball past Marmont.
Four minutes before half-time, Roy Packman, the tall right-winger, was brought down in the area by Malzigus. Up stepped James for his hat-trick, but his sights were raised too high and he committed the unforgivable sin of missing a penalty.
The second-half began as it's predecessor - pulsating pressure by Halstead. This time it was rewarded with a Maurice Skinner goal after only two minutes.
Play evened out after this, and swayed from one end to the other with surprising rapidity, considering the conditions.
Platt kept plugging away, only to see many moves break down because of the inability to seize openings in the Halstead defence.
Roy Morgan, Halstead's small left-winger, missed an easy chance and both Cyril Dolley and Skinner had shots saved on the line. Then Platt, rated as outsiders for the cup, changed their tactics and swung the ball about. A goal came almost immediately. Chris Scott, younger of the two brothers, fastened on to a pass and crossed the ball from the by-line over all heads to the unmarked Ingram-Seal, who swept it home,(79 minutes).
The fight was now carried to Halstead's half and, with fresh ominous black clouds racing overhead, Platt strove manfully to force extra-time. But amid hail-storm and thunder, last year's losing finalists managed to hold out by booting out of touch at every opportunity.
Console referee Mr Burt for having to control a match in such awful conditions, I thought he must abandon it; but he did his utmost and succeeded in keeping Boxing Day from living up to it's name, and stood no nonsense or over-zealous tackling contributed by the slimy surface.
Credit the players for giving an exhibition of soccer that, considering everything was against it, was worthy of a cup final. Only once did I see tempers frayed, and that was after an incident involving James and Marmont. But Mr Burt quickly calmed the hot-heads down.
And lastly, praise the 200 or so shivering supporters who braved the shocking elements to encourage both teams. They were either fools who suffer gladly or soccer-mad types who are a credit to the sport. For myself, I needed a complete change of clothing when I reached home; I know without a doubt they are classed with the second label.
The new head postmaster of Sevenoaks, Mr A. F. Davis, afterwards presented the hard-earned cup and medals to both teams.
Team: T.Marmont, W.Webb, N.Bennett, R.Gill, S.Malzigus, E.Maynard, Chris Scott, Colin Scott, G.Bathurst, J.Snow, D.Ingram-Seal.