With Dover Athletic providing the opposition on 5th September 2023, Our First & Our Last feature looked at matches played in Europe by St Albans City. Our first overseas adventure saw us depart these shores from Dover in April 1925.
OUR FIRST – OVERSEAS MATCH
Entente Bruxelloise 4-6 St Albans City: 12th April 1925
This evening our ‘First and Our Last’ feature looks at a couple of games played by St Albans City on foreign fields.
We first ventured outside of our borders over the Easter period in April 1925 with a trip to Belgium to compete for the Jean Dupuich Cup. The competition had been launched in 1908 with eight clubs taking part but, from 1909, this was reduced to four. English clubs had a bit of success in lifting the trophy prior to World War One with Bishop Auckland winning it twice and Ilford once. The cup was named in honour of Jean Dupuich, a forward with Belgian club Royal Léopold who had died unexpectedly at the age of 20.
Our introduction to the Coupe Jean Dupuich came during the final year of the competition and saw us face Belgian side Entente Bruxelloise on 12th April. In the other semi-final, played earlier in the day, Union Saint Gilloise beat Feyenoord 1-0. A crowd in excess of 12,000 greeted the Saints who were two goals to the good inside the opening ten minutes through Wilf ‘Billy’ Minter and Fred Dear. A couple of goals by Cocheteux put the sides on level terms at the interval only for Minter to put the City ahead again, this time with a blistering volley, and Wally Buckingham added a fourth. Cocheteux completed his hat trick with a penalty following a handball by George Meagher and a goal by Degeynst took the tie into extra time. City, though, secured their place in the final with a couple of headed goals from George Biswell and Redvers Miller.
The final was played the following the day on the 17th anniversary of the formation of the Saints. City fielded the same XI that had turned out the previous day but went down 2-1 to Union St Gilloise. Wally Buckingham scored his second goal of the weekend but a brace by Van Bressem either side of his goal condemned us to defeat in front of more than 14,000 spectators. The City players all received silver runners up medals while the St Gilloise team were presented with miniature cups.
The arrangements for the trip from the St Albans end were organised by our hon. secretary W.J.Green A party of 42 set off from St Albans to London and went by train from Victoria to Dover. From there they boarded the Marie Jose and sailed to Ostend. Due to thick fog, the voyage took 90 minutes longer than scheduled but they still arrived in time for their train to Brussels. Here they were greeted by M.Konig and M.Simonis, the president and secretary of the Brussels F.A., who conducted them to the Hotel Lemmens, where dinner was served.
On Sunday morning, the party embarked on a sight-seeing tour, a char-a-banc and a guide being provided by their hosts. Many of the chief places of interest in the Belgian capital were seen and the party were taken to the scene of the shooting of Nurse Edith Cavell. After lunch the team and officials went by char-a-banc to the picturesque Parc Duden.
More sight-seeing was undertaken on the Monday evening with the party leaving Brussels at 11.45am on the Tuesday. Ostend was departed at 2.15pm and on the ship the City party encountered some familiar faces in the form of the players of Hampstead Town (later Hendon) and Nunhead. The two clubs were returning from tournaments at Liege and Bruges respectively where both had been successful in winning silverware. Dover was reached at 5.40pm with the journey back to Victoria Station being made in a reserved restaurant section of the train.
St Albans City: Cecil Cannon; W.Smith, Sid Duller; Harold Figg, Percy Bird, Fred Hellicar; Fred Dear, George Biswell, Wilf Minter, Redvers Miller, Wally Buckingham .
Referee v Entente Bruxelloise: Monsieur Mareck. The final was refereed by Belgian John Langenus who went on to referee the first World Cup final in 1930.