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Leicester Fosse at their fourth attempt managed to qualify for the first round proper of the English Challenge Cup having beaten Mansfield Town, Mansfield Greenhalgh and arch-rivals Loughborough in the qualifying rounds. On Wednesday 20 December 1893, the draw for the first round English Challenge Cup took place during a meeting of the Council at the Football Association in Chancery Land, London. Fosse were drawn at home against South Shore. The full draw was:

West Bromwich Albion v. Bolton Wanderers

Small Heath v. Bolton Wanderers

Grimsby Town v Liverpool

Preston North End v. Reading

Newcastle United v. Sheffield United

Stockport County or Crewe Alexandra v. Burton Wanderers

Notts County v. Burnley

Newton Heath v. Middlesbrough

Derby County v. Darwen

Notts. Forest v. Heanor Town

Stoke v. Everton

Sunderland v. Accrington

Middlesbrough Ironopolis v. Sherwood Foresters or Luton

Leicester Fosse v South Shore

Woolwich Arsenal v. Sheffield Wednesday

Both the Fosse and South Shore went into a strict training regime the week before. South Shore, who would later amalgamate with their neighbours Blackpool, travelled to Leicester the day before the game and made the White Hart Hotel on Belgrave Gate their base. Excited fans crammed into the Walnut-street ground. South Shore played rough, subjecting the Fosse forwards, in particular Dorrell, to some brutal treatment. The cup tie was played in almost a gale force wind. Fosse having won the toss, chose to play with the wind, and thanks to Hill and Brown managed to take a 2-1 lead by half-time. Fosse spent much of the second half defending against both pretty combination play by South Shore’s forwards and the wind. Tension mounted as time edged slowly towards the 90-minute mark. Several of the crowd were unable to control themselves, and a man even threw his umbrella on the field of play! Thanks to a spirited defence and outstanding saves by Jimmy Thraves, the Fosse prevailed.

In the Second Round, the mighty Derby County, flying high at the time in Division One, were Leicester’s opponents. On 10 February 1894, just three days after the draw was made, a record 13,000 excited spectators crammed into the Walnut Street Ground came close to witnessing a giant killing. More than 2,000 fans travelled from Derby on two football special trains. A goal–less draw resulted after extra time, with the Fosse attacking and defending

Steve Bloomer

splendidly throughout. England international and Derby’s record goalscorer Steve Bloomer broke his collar bone after a collision with Fosse half-back Peggy Lord after 22 minutes. Bloomer was a celebrity in the early 20th century and even had his own boot deal. The anthem ’Steve Bloomer’s Watchin‘ is played at every Derby home game and there is a bust of him at the Pride Park Stadium. He is also listed in the Football League 100 Legends and English Football Hall of Fame. A few minutes after Bloomer left the field of play, Leicester’s Lord made a grand shot from a free kick that dropped just over the heads of those in the goalmouth before hitting the back of the net, which was greeted by “tremendous cheering” when the referee awarded a goal. But on an appeal by the referee, Mr Fox had a “talk” with several players and after consulting one of the linesmen, Mr Adams, the goal was disallowed. No reason was given! Derby adopted rough tactics as both sides shot from all distances and angles in an attempt to settle the tie. Extra time failed to separate the sides. Derby’s skipper, Archie Goodall was fined £5 and costs for assaulting Fosse fan, Frank Main, a clerk from Market Harborough, at the end of the game. According to the court report, Mr Main had said to a friend that Goodall was the foulest player on the field before Goodall came up from behind and badly cut his eye. 

The replay took place the following Saturday, played in dreadful weather at the Racecourse Ground, Derby in front of 4,000 spectators. Derby outclassed the Fosse in a tense and at times violent game, winning 3-0.  Nevertheless, The Leicester Post were suitably impressed, commenting that, “Leicester Fosse have won new laurels by their encounters with Derby County, and have now attained a reputation in Association football which cannot but spur them on to attain an even more enviable rank another season.”