On 23 October 1886 Partick Thistle travelled to Blackburn Olympic to play a 1st round match in the FA Cup. Olympic was a famous name at the time, having won the FA Cup in 1883, becoming the first club from the north of England, and the first from a working-class background, to win the trophy.
Thistle won the game 3-1 and the FA Cup run continued with wins over Fleetwood Rangers and Cliftonville before finally losing to Old Westminsters in the 5th round.
Manchester newspaper Cricket and Football Field reported on the Blackburn game in an idiosyncratic manner.
Always with a respectful and obedient salaam, to your chair, Mr Editor, and a business-like ‘Yessir’ or ‘Allrightsir,’ in response to the various wishes and dictates of its occupant, I received your most honoured injunctions to proceed to Blackburn on Saturday to “do” an important cup tie, and so I proceeded to the dismal town to perform the important duty. In due time I arrived at the bottom of that awful Alpine roadway, the ascent of which can only be accomplished by shear sweat of the brow. Take this route, sir, by all means if you are wanting an appetite for breakfast. At last I arrived at that rural spot which delights in the characteristic name of Hole-i’th-Wall. Here — the venue of the once celebrated Blackburn Olympic – was a moderate crowd assembled to see how the Light Blues would fare with their darker jerseyed rivals the Partick Thistle, with whom they were drawn in the opening tie for the national pot. The northern contingent, had travelled all night, being carted to their destination in the small hours of the morning, and a few hours had been passed in refreshing sleep at the Bay Horse. They were out on the heath when I arrived, and a braw lot they looked, quite a different turnout to the seemingly shrivelled up Olympians who followed in their wake. And bye-the-bye what a difference between past and present Blackburn Olympic. Only two remain of that merry crew which first brought the English Cup to its first Lancashire borne four years ago. The attendance and enthusiasm displayed too is not a patch on the days of yore.
Well, the play began, and pretty soon we were treated to a display of honest hard work by the youngsters in the light blue jerseys, who for the first ten minutes or so were continually hovering round the Scotchmen’s door. But the shooting! I could have got goals myself, sir, and I as yet am only an underdone amateur whose capabilities, if weighed in the balance, will be found very much wanting. Hothersall had two of the rosiest chances in the world of shooting goals, but he might as well have aimed against the boards. After a few preliminary lessons in Olympian football, the partisans of the Thistle, who had up to then been doing only about seedy, woke up and treated the Hole-i’th-wallers to the species of game as played avont the Tweed. They just got their hands in and then Johnstone put one past Noble and a goal counted, but it appeared to me a soft one. Another couple of minutes and from a corner Paul chalked a second up, the style of which somewhat resembled its predecessor, as not an effort was made to arrest its progress.
Nettled at these reverses, but in no-wise disconcerted, the Olympians renewed the fray, and again bore down on their opponents’ fortress. A goal almost accrued to them once more, when Hendry, being hard pressed, headed towards his own goal when only a yard or two from the uprights, and Duff only disposed of the leather in the nick of time. Still the six forward system adopted by the foreigners told its tale on the defenders of the Blackburn goal, and ere long Paul put a third goal to the credit, of his side — a real gem, obtained with a screw kick out of a bad position. The Scotchmen showed really good combination, and Jack Hunter’s rearguard were found plenty of employment. Jerry Suter, who, by the bye, is a brother of the old Roverite, hereabouts made the best run of the day, finishing up with a scorching shot which Noble put away in capital style. However, no more scoring befel either side, and half-time saw the plant that blooms in spring leading three goals to a blank.
The Thistle got a goal almost at the beginning of the latter half, but offside spoiled it, whilst, directly afterwards the Olympians claimed for Duff being through when repelling a shot from Gill, but the referee, Mr. Hindle, thought otherwise. However, directly afterwards Garner centred well from the outside right, and the Light Blues captain shot a beauty of a goal from midfield. This awoke the slumbering crowd, and urged on, the Olympians caused the big ‘uns a merry five minutes. Their “go,” however, did not last, and their heavier opponents played as they liked during the last stages of the game, and the Light Blues, try as they might, rarely got past Hendry. There was no further business done in the matter of goals, and the Thistle eventually had the satisfaction of returning to their native land to prepare for “Partick-ing” in the second round.
Of the winners, Duff was very safe between the posts, and Hendry and McLean were both reliable and sturdy backs, particularly the former, whose tremendous lifts were a treat. Robertson came in noticeable for very hard work, especially in the second half, whilst of the forwards one was almost as good as the other. The Scotchmen were altogether too much weight, although at times they were easily outdone, and I don’t think they would fare quite as well with our stronger organisations in Lancashire. Of the losers I single out Southworth and Hunter in the defence, whilst Garner and Carlisle were a really clever pair on the right, and Parker worked hard in the centre. So adieu to the Cup, Messrs. Olympic.
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