Muswell Hill Football Club: 1898-1899

One Season, Three Cups

by Baris Karacasu

This special guest article tells the story of Muswell Hill Football Club’s incredible treble winning season.

Team members from back to front of photograph:

Back: W. Pritchard; J. McStamper

Middle: R. Smith; A. Corben; F. Buckler; P. Hawke

Front: H. Baxter; F. Ellingham; P. Windett; F. Wheaton ;J. Cassy

1.    Introduction

The current local Muswell Hill football club, AFC Muswell Hill, was formed just over ten years ago, in 2012. They share a premises and pitch with their sister club, Crouch End Vampires, and play in the Barnet Sunday Football League at Muswell Hill Playing Fields, behind Coldfall Wood. However, more than a century ago, there was also a Muswell Hill football club in the Northern Heights of London. Incredibly, in one single season, 1898-99, teams from the club won three cups, including two knock-out trophies and a league trophy. This article focuses on that remarkable season in Muswell Hill’s football history, providing readers with insights of the local football scene, and exploring the teams’ achievements.

About the author

I am a local history and sports history enthusiast. Originally from Turkey, I moved to the UK in January 2021 and by chance came and settled in Muswell Hill. Since then, I have been reading and researching more about the history of the area. I developed a particular interest in the athletic grounds and sporting activities and clubs in and around Muswell Hill during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This article is a result of that interest and research.

It is principally based on information gathered from newspapers and periodicals of the period. In many cases, match reports of the same game published in different newspapers are almost the same, as the reports were drafted and sent to the papers by the representatives/secretaries of the clubs.

If you find the article interesting and have any thoughts or questions, I would really like to hear from you in the comments section at the end. Alternatively, you can email me directly at

Initial research

When I began my research, one of the first articles I came across was a feature in the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News about Muswell Hill Football Club (MHFC) winning the London Junior Cup in the 1898-1899 season. Having gradually lost interest in professional football over the past decade, my focus had shifted towards a fascination with the history of the amateur game and the rich culture around it. This particular article ignited a spark of curiosity within me, especially as it covered the early history of football in Muswell Hill.

Even though the article in the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News claims that MHFC was formed a decade earlier, around 1888, I have yet to find further evidence to support this. The first specific mention of MHFC doesn’t appear in the newspapers until the 1892-1893 football season. There was a sports club called Muswell Hill Athletic Club, which included cricket, harriers and lawn tennis amongst its activities. Additionally, there is reference to a football team called “Muswell Park” which was formed in 1890 and played on a ground at Fortis Green Road, with their changing room at St Paul’s Schools, Morning Leader, 4 October 1893. There’s also reference to a Muswell Hill football team, contemptuously dubbed the “Muswell Hill Bounders” in the Evening News, 29 March 1890. It’s possible that MHFC is the continuation of one of these clubs. Either way, it appears that the club spent nearly a decade without any notable success on the pitch until the 1898-1899 season.

In addition to the account of MHFC winning the cup, what makes the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News even more interesting is that it also includes a photograph of the team, as shown above. Local newspapers at the time didn’t publish photographs, as this was expensive to do, and therefore probably wasn’t cost efficient for papers with a relatively small circulation. The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, however, was a national publication with a large circulation.

According to The Free Press, 4 March 1899, a group photograph of the Muswell Hill team was taken a week before the final of the London Junior Cup, and copies of the photograph could be purchased at the ground for a small cost. It is highly likely that the photograph is the same as the one reprinted in the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News.

Although the team in the photograph are called “Muswell Hill Football Club Reserves”, the distinction between the first, junior, and reserve teams is not at all clear. In many cases, the terms “junior” and “reserves” seem to be used interchangeably. It also seems, as evident from the similar line-ups, that there were no strict rules regarding team composition, and the same players would frequently play for both the first team and the junior or reserve team. It seems likely, therefore, that the club had a pool of “registered” players, and team selection depended on performance and player availability.

While the photograph doesn’t give any clues as to the team’s colours, newspaper reports at the time referred to the team as the “Reds,” suggesting that MHFC played in a red and white kit. Along with being called the “Reds” there is also mention in The Holloway and Hornsey Press, 17 February 1899, and The Barnet Press, 18 February 1899, of the Muswell Hill Reserves, who played in Finchley League Division II, as “the Babes”. Remarkably, even though the first team had nearly the same line-up, they were referred to as “Old Boys”, The Free Press, 25 March 1899.

It would be these Muswell Hill “Babes” and “Old Boys” who would make history in the club’s treble-winning season. But before we explore the 1898-1899 season in detail, let’s look at Muswell Hill’s ground at that time.

The ground

For several years before, MHFC had played on a field in Fortis Green. Where was this field exactly? It couldn’t have been within what is now Fortismere Secondary School grounds, because Coldfall Wood then stretched all the way back there. I therefore assume it is likely to have been the ground where the Archery Club is now located. In the early 20th century, this field was used by Tollington High School (now Tetherdown Primary School) as “Playing Grounds,” as seen in the sketch below.

However, due to MHFC’s inability to secure tenancy of their old ground at Fortis Green, the club’s committee made arrangements to use the Athletic Grounds in Nightingale Lane, Priory Road, Hornsey for the 1898-1899 season.

Nightingale Lane, named after Nightingale Hall, isn’t considered part of Muswell Hill today, but it still exists at the foot of the hill, opposite Priory Park. Although several grounds and meadows surrounded Nightingale Lane back then, the Athletic Grounds used by MHFC must have been the current ground of the Alexandra Palace Cricket and Football Club, located in the middle of the “Frying Pan,” the Alexandra Palace Horse Racing Course. It was well-known among local footballers as the enclosure formerly used by Crouch End FC, The Free Press, September 10, 1898.

We can ascertain this from news articles in The Holloway and Hornsey Press, 7 October 1898, and The Free Press, 8 October 1898, covering Muswell Hill’s London Junior Cup first-round game against Ponders End Guild. The newspapers invited friends of the club to the match and mentioned that “the ground also had a covered stand to provide spectators excellent shelter in wet weather,” and “for which no extra charge is made.”

The crucial aspect of this ground was its noticeable slope, which significantly affected the quality and results of the matches.

The ground gained renewed popularity recently following a commemorative football game on 26 March 2023, celebrating the contributions of women’s football pioneers. (For more details about Women’s football in the area see the article 1895: Women’s Football Makes its Official Debut in Hornsey on this website.)

In 1898, with the ground at Nightingale Lane secured, preparations began for the coming season.

Preparing for the season

MHFC held their annual meeting in June 1898 during which the officials of the club were elected:

  • Captain: J. A. Corben
  • Vice-Captain: F. Wheaton
  • Captain of Reserves: E. L. Robinson
  • Vice-Captain: B. F. Gillingham
  • Committee: H. Baxter, J. Cassey, F. J. Chapman, H. T. Godwin, F. Locket, M. Mott.
  • Honorary Treasurer: G. J. Lines
  • Honorary Secretary: T. T. Robinson, Beacon Hill, N.

Highlighting how players competed for different teams, First Team Captain J. A. Corben and Vice-Captain F. Wheaton regularly played for both MHFC Reserves and Juniors, while Captain of Reserves E. L. Robinson and Vice-Captain B. F. Ellingham were occasional replacements for the Juniors during the season.

For the 1898-99 season, the club had five teams and the decision was made to participate in several competitions, which included the Finchley and District League with two teams, the Middlesex Junior Cup, the London Junior Cup, and the Finchley and District Challenge Cup.

Towards the end of the season, The Barnet Press, 18 March 1899, published a “Form at a Glance” table which listed the five teams and the number of games they had played up until then: Muswell Hill (26 games), Muswell Hill Reserves (23 games), Muswell Hill A (14 games), Muswell Hill Wednesday (4 games), Muswell Hill Juniors (12 games).

TeamPWLDFA
Muswell Hill2620246423
Muswell Hill Reserves2210754529
Muswell Hill A.146712033
Muswell Hill Wednesday4130917
Muswell Hill Juniors1211104410

Two teams, Muswell Hill and Muswell Hill Juniors had highly successful seasons, ultimately securing three cups. Muswell Hill Juniors won the London Junior Cup, and Muswell Hill first team won the Finchley and District Challenge Cup and clinched top spot in the inaugural Finchley and District League Division I.

2.    The London Junior Cup

In early August 1898, the London Football Association announced the calendar for the London Junior Cup, along with other cups like the London Senior Cup and the London Charity Cup (The Sporting Life, 9 August 1898). The London FA also set a fee of five shillings per game for the clubs taking part.

Following the submission of application forms and the paying of competition entrance fees, the London Junior Cup was structured into four divisions, with approximately 50 teams in total. Muswell Hill was placed in Division II, which I believe to be the Northern Division. The winners of each division would proceed to the semi-finals. By mid-September 1898, draws had been made for all four divisions (The Observer, 16 September 1898).

First Round: Muswell Hill v. Ponders End Guild – 8 October 1898

Muswell Hill 3 – 1 Ponders End Guild

Referee: Mr. Gordon Stuart

Muswell Hill team

Goal: J. McStamper

Backs: W. Prichard; P. Hawke

Half-backs: R. Smith; J. Corben; T. Robinson

Forwards: A. Windett; W. Potter; F. Buckler; F. Wheaton; H. Baxter

Match report

MHFC’s opponents, Ponders End Guild, had been winners of the second division of the North London League the previous year and were described as “a smart little team hailing from Enfield” (The Holloway and Hornsey Press, October 7, 1998). Kick off was at 3.30 pm, and the weather was ideal, attracting a substantial number of spectators to see the home team secure a comfortable 3-1 win.

Muswell Hill started the game with the sun at their backs but faced a challenging wind. The match began slowly, with both teams attempting to control the game.

The visitors had better luck than their opponents, as their centre forward launched a high shot that hit the edge of the crossbar, then bounced off Stamper’s back and into the net. This setback spurred the home team to play more aggressively, and it didn’t take long before the goalkeeper, being slow to clear the ball, was bundled into the net along with it by Wheaton and Potter, successively. Potter netted his second goal just before half-time.

North Middlesex Chronicle, October 15, 1898

All the goals were scored in the first half. Although the home team continued to apply pressure and their opponents rarely crossed the halfway line, no further goals were scored in the second half.

Second Round: Lipton’s Athletic v. Muswell Hill – 22 October 1898

Lipton’s Athletic 2 – 2 Muswell Hill

Muswell Hill team

Goal: J. McStamper

Backs: W. Prichard; P. Hawke

Half-backs: R. Smith; J. Corben; F. Buckler

Forwards: In. Mott; F. Wheaton; P. Windett; F. Ellingham; J. Cassy

Match report

Lipton’s Athletic had beaten Tottenham Town in the first round. The match was played at Wadham Lodge grounds in Walthamstow. In the early stages of the game, Lipton’s Athletic showed some strong forward play and gave the visitor’s defence plenty of work resulting in an early lead. Hawke’s header into his own goal then made the first-half score 2-0 for the home team.

However, in the second half, the “rearrangement of the Muswell Hill team proved effective. After 15 minutes of play, Cassy opened the visitors’ scoring account. Later on, Muswell Hill was awarded a penalty kick for one of the home backs deliberately holding Ellingham, which allowed Windett to equalize the score.”

The Holloway and Hornsey Press, 28 October 1898

The replay was set for the following week at Muswell Hill’s ground, with kick-off at 3.15 pm.

Second Round Replay: Lipton’s Athletic v. Muswell Hill – 29 October 1898

Muswell Hill 6 – 1 Lipton’s Athletic

Muswell Hill team

Goal: J. McStamper

Backs: W. Prichard; P. Hawke

Half-backs: R. Smith; J. Corbe; F. Buckler

Forwards: W. Potter; F. Wheaton; P. Windett; F. Ellingham; J. Cassy

Match report

There was considerable fall of rain just prior to the game and the turf was in consequence rather greasy, but notwithstanding this a fine game resulted, chiefly remarkable for a splendid display all round by the home team, who completely ran their opponents off their legs, and won handsomely by six goals to one.

The Free Press, 5 November 1898

Corben, Cassy, Ellingham, Windett each scored one goal while Potter scored two goals for Muswell Hill. Lipton’s Athletic only goal is an own goal by Prichard. MHFC now meet London Caledonians Reserves in the 3rd round.

Third Round: Muswell Hill v. London Caledonians (Reserves) – 5 November 1898

Muswell Hill 1 – 0 London Caledonians

Muswell Hill team

The same as the previous round

Match report

The match was originally scheduled for 12 November 1898, however, due to the postponement of Muswell Hill’s tie in the second round of the Middlesex Junior Cup, the two clubs agreed to play on 5 November 1898. Despite London Caledonians having the choice of ground, they agreed to play at Muswell Hill’s ground. Anticipation was high, and “quite 200 spectators gathered around the ropes.” The Holloway and Hornsey Press, 11 November 1898

Corben lost the toss for the home side, who had to face a dazzling sun. The Caleys were early seen to great advantage, and the game was not many minutes old when a good shot from Ritchie was brilliantly saved by Stamper. For some time the Caleys did most of the attacking, but were unable to make any points… The homesters were now showing better form, and the game became fast and exciting, both goals were visited in turn, but the backs of both sides kept their lines clear, and at the half-time neither side had scored. After the resumption of play Muswell Hill had distinctly the best of the game, and the visitors’ goal had several narrow escapes. A good centre from Cassy was put into the net by Windett. After this the play was faster than ever, but the homesters proved the better stayers and had the best of matters to the close. Potter scored a second goal for Muswell Hill, but the referee disallowed it on count of offside. Result, Muswell Hill 1 goal, London Caledonians Reserves nil.

Hornsey and Finsbury Park Journal and North Islington Standard, 12 November 1898

Fourth Round: Muswell Hill v. Finchley – 3 December 1898

Finchley 1 – 2 Muswell Hill

Referee: J. W. Griling

Finchley team

Goal: Drewell

Backs: Tuck; Wren

Half-backs: Willis; Hochstrasser; Green

Forwards: W. Smith; Newlands; Venables; A. Smith; T. Mein

Muswell Hill team

Goal: J. McStamper

Backs: W. Pritchard; P. Hawke

Half-backs: R. Smith; J. Corben; F. Buckler

Forwards: W. Potter; F. Ellingham; P. Windett; F. Wheaton; J. Cassy

Match report

The match was played at Finchley’s enclosure in North Finchley on the Great North Road, near Tally Ho corner. Kick off was at 2.45 pm. Both teams had enjoyed a great season, only losing one game each so far. Despite the ground being a bit soft, the weather was perfect for a Saturday afternoon football game, and in an exceptionally fast-paced game, Muswell Hill came out 2-1 victors, putting their name in the divisional final.

The fates have evidently decreed that Finchley shall get no further than the fourth round of the London Junior Cup. This they have done the last three seasons but have then been defected by the margin of a goal.

Muswell Hill undoubtedly caught Finchley on an off day – especially the forwards. Venables and A. Smith were distinctly stale; the former has not showed such a poor form in any other match this season. Newlands worked too hard, but too much individual play spoiled his efforts. Both wing men put in some good work at times, but both have been seen to better advantage. Hochstrasser was the best of the halves, although Green ran him pretty closely. Willis was off, in fact for the last twenty minutes he was not on the field at all, having been injured. This was a great misfortune to the home team, occurring, as it did, at a critical stage of the game. Wren’s display was moderate, while Tuck and Drewell both did well in their respective departments.

Of the winners, Windett, Cassy, Hawke and Smith were the pick, but all the team worked hard. R. Smith in the first half played a very foul game and was cautioned twice by the referee.

The Barnet Press, 10 December 1898

Divisional Final – Muswell Hill v. Barnet Avenue / 12 January 1899

Muswell Hill 2 – 0 Barnet Avenue

Muswell Hill team

Goal: J. McStamper

Backs: W. Prichard; P. Hawke

Half-backs: R. Smith; J. Corben; F. Buckler

Forwards: P. Windett; J. Cassy; F. Wheaton; F. Ellingham; H. Baxter

Referee: E. Gordon Stuart

Match report

The Divisional Final of the London Junior Cup took place at Nightingale Lane Ground with a 2.45 pm start. Muswell Hill were in fine form and were the better team from start to finish. Baxter and Windett both found the back of the net in the first half to secure a place in the semi-final for Muswell Hill. It was primarily the outstanding performance of the goalkeeper, King, that prevented Barnet Avenue from suffering a more significant defeat. “Time after time his splendid saves evoked the admiration and applause of the spectators.” The Barnet Press, Saturday 21 January 1899.

Corben was lucky with the toss, and Barnet Avenue had to face a dazzling sun. The homesters immediately went off at a great pace, and in the first five minutes King had all his work cut out to keep his goal intact, as shots were rained in upon him from all directions, one from Cassy being sent in terrific force, and was only just tipped over the bar. It was soon clearly demonstrated that the Avenue team were no match for the homesters, as the dash and combination of the forwards was irresistible… Ellingham and Baxter were very prominent on the right wing, their combined play being of a high order, and it was not long before the latter player scored with a shot that hit the upright and bounded into the net.

Barnet Avenue improved a bit after this reverse, and the home backs were kept busy for a few minutes. Then Muswell forwards swooped down again, and Wheaton and Cassy were seen to advantage with some excellent passing… The home team maintained the pace, which… was too great for the Avenue, but their backs defended nevertheless. Baxter, however, was too fast for Shaw, and out-manoeuvred him time after time. Later on, a fine centre from the touch-line by the same player was headed through by Windett. This occurred just before the interval, at which the score read – Muswell Hill 2 goals, Barnet Avenue nil.

Play after crossing was practically a repetition of the first portion, except in the matter of scoring.

The Holloway and Hornsey Press, 20 January 1889

Following the match, Muswell Hill are presented with medals for winning the divisional final and becoming Junior Champions of North London. The next match is the all-London semi-final.

Semi-Final – Muswell Hill v. Lorn 11 February 1899

Muswell Hill 1 – 1 Lorn

Referee: H. J. Jones

Muswell Hill team

Goal: J. McStamper

Backs: W. Prichard; P. Hawke

Half-backs: R. Smith; J. Corben; F. Buckler

Forwards: P. Windett; J. Cassy; F. Wheaton; F. Ellingham; H. Baxter

Match report

MHFC’s opponents in the semi-final are Lorn from Dulwich. The match is played on a neutral ground, that of West End FC in Wormholt Far (Wormholt Park today), near Shepherd’s Bush. The location resulted in a small crowd, the majority of whom supported Lorn. The referee was H. J. Jones, and kick-off was at 3.15 pm.

At the outset the play was very even, but Muswell Hill forwards seemed to combine better, whilst the Lorn defence was particularly sound. Thirty minutes elapsed before Windett scored for the Muswell Hill team, after Towell had partially saved, and they crossed over leading by a goal. After resumption, Lorn attacked in a most determined style, and certainly had hard luck in not scoring, several shots only just missing the mark. The North Londoners’ defence, however, proved equal to the occasion, and play was eventually transferred to mid-field. Urged on by their enthusiastic following, Lorn, after a spell of give-and-take play, returned to the attack, and a good piece of combination by their left wing enabled Jenkins to equalize the score with a grand shot -a really brilliant effort. This success apparently gave the Lorn forwards encouragement, for they again took up the running, and looked all over like scoring. The rest of the game was very even, and when the whistle blew neither side could claim an advantage.

South London Press, 18 February 1899

Semi-Final Replay – Muswell Hill v. Lorn 18 February 1899

Muswell Hill 8 – 1 Lorn

Muswell Hill team

Goal: J. McStamper

Backs: W. Prichard; P. Hawke

Half-backs: R. Smith; J. Corben; F. Buckler

Forwards: P. Windett; J. Cassy; F. Wheaton; F. Ellingham; H. Baxter

Lorn team

Goal: J. Towell

Backs: C. Hagger; J. Fraser

Half-backs: F. Belleini; E. Howland; H. Clarke

Forwards: C. Cooper; R. Humphries; L. Jenkins; A. Groocock; L. Butler

Match report

The replay took place the following week at West Norwood FC’s ground at High View Park, West Norwood, a choice which obviously favoured Lorn who had the backing of the vast majority of the 1,000 crowd.

Given the weather, a large crowd is certain to be attracted, for the Lorenites have a strong local following. The South Londoners may rely on the local support, for West Norwood are playing away, and naturally High-view habitués will cheer the winners of Division IV on the victory.

South London Press, 18 February 1899

The play in the first half was fairly level and only one goal was scored, which was registered by Ellingham shortly before the interval.

The Weekly Herald, 24 February 1899

The forwards forced the pace to such an extent in the first stage that in the second half of the game Lorn’s defence utterly collapsed, and seemed powerless to deal with the attack opposed to them …

The Barnet Press, 25 February 1899

From the re-start Muswell forwards proved too much for Lorn’s defence, and it was not long before Windett found himself favourably placed, and with a good shot scored number two. Hardly a minute elapsed before the Muswell forwards, with some excellent combination, baffled the South Londoners and Ellingham scored number three. Lorn made desperate but unsuccessful attempt to improve matters. Muswell Hill getting away again, Cassy sent the ball across to Ellingham who scored. Windett notched the fifth point, to be followed three minutes later by another from Cassy. Subsequently Humphries scored a lovely goal for Lorn. After this Muswell Hill added two more points through Baxter and Cassy, and the final result was Muswell Hill 8, Lorn 1.

The Weekly Herald, 24 February 1899

Final – Muswell Hill v. Plumstead 11 March 1899

Muswell Hill 1 – 1 Plumstead

Muswell Hill team

Goal: J. McStamper

Backs: W. Pritchard; P. Hawke

Half-backs: R. Smith; J. Corben; M. Mott

Forwards: H. Baxter; F. Ellingham; P. Windett; F. Wheaton; J. Cassy

Plumstead team

Goal: G. Rogers

Backs: C. Smart; G. Fletcher; F. Williams; F. Davis; C. Wright

Forwards: S. Coleman; W. Kileast; H. Barbour; C. Desson; J. M’Pherson

Match report

The final was initially to be played at West Norwood FC’s ground at High View Park in West Norwood. However, for some reason, West Norwood club withdrew their offer to host the match. As a result, the final was played at Tufnell Park instead. The match attracted a substantial crowd of spectators, reportedly around 2,000, and a significant display of the rival team’s colours.

The Plumstead team, who hail from the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, and is composed of employees in that government factory, were accompanied per special train by over 500 of their supporters, but the Muswell Hill contingent was even more numerous than this.

The Weekly Herald, 17 March 1899

Muswell Hill suffered from numerous problems during the game. Crucially, Ellingham was rendered practically ineffective by a twisted ankle. Wheaton’s left leg gave way due to a strain he had contracted during the week, and Cassy was exhausted and barely able to continue playing.

The play was somewhat rough in the first half, and no goals were scored. On resuming, Plumstead immediately scored, and Muswell Hill shortly afterwards equalised. From this point Plumstead pressed hotly, but their opponents’ goalkeeper was rather smart, and no further goals were scored. Plumstead endeavoured to obtain thirty minutes’ extension, but Muswell captain -no doubt on account of the “damaged” state of his men- objected.

The Camden and Kentish Towns and St. Pancras Gazette, 18 March 1899

Final Replay – Muswell Hill v. Plumstead 25 March 1899

Despite the efforts of the London Football Association to secure the use of Tufnell Park ground, the replay of the final takes place at Caledonian Park in Holloway, close to Tufnell Park. It seems that MHFC was also using this opportunity to raise funds for the club by selling club badges on the ground, raising hopes for the possibility of finding one of these badges at a car boot sale in the future.

The match kicked off at 3.30 pm, with approximately 1,500 spectators gathered around the pitch to watch the final. Among the crowd were a train-load of Plumstead supporters who never failed to cheer on their team. In Muswell Hill, Mott was replaced by Buckler, and Ellingham, who had received a bad kick in the first match and was unable to play since, was replaced by Harvey. Plumstead fielded the same team as before.

Following a slight shower of rain before the game, the match began with a strong wind blowing in favour of Muswell Hill in the first half.

From the kick-off Plumstead pressed for the first few minutes, but aided by the wing Muswell Hill attacked in full force and kept the East-Enders on the defensive. Wheaton at length sending in a fast shot that beat Rogers and placed the Muswell Hill a goal ahead. They tried hard to add to this advantage, but nothing further resulted up till half-time. In the second portion Plumstead had the breeze in their favour, and Muswell Hill, with a goal in hand, acted almost entirely on the defensive, and kept their opponents from scoring until ten minutes from time, when, from a scrimmage in front of goal, Kileast equalised. Plumstead continued the attack, but over confident, the backs came too far forward, and Baxter, obtaining the ball on the outside, slipped all his opponents, and after a grand run nearly the full length of the ground, added another goal for Muswell Hill. Plumstead tried hard to score in the two or three minutes which remained for play, but without result, and Muswell Hill won by two goals to one.

The Sporting Life, 27 March 1899

Muswell Hill are naturally very jubilant over their victory over Plumstead, which entitles them to hold the London Junior Cup for a year. Their success is all the more praiseworthy in as much as they had never before been able to get further than the first round. The Weekly Herald, 31 March 1899

The London Junior Cup together with medals to the players were presented at the annual smoking concert of the London Football Association at St. James’ Banqueting Hall, Piccadilly on Tuesday 18th April 1899 at 7.30 pm. The fee for entrance tickets of the event was 1 shilling. The Weekly Herald, 14 April 1899

3.     Finchley and District Challenge Cup

1898-1899 was the third season of the Finchley and District Challenge Cup. Organised by The Free Press (for Finchley, Muswell Hill, Highgate, Whetstone, Mill Hill, Edgware, &c) fifteen teams from around Finchley and Hornsey took part in the competition. Finchley Football Club had won the cup for the first two years which probably explains why they were chosen to advance directly to the second round.

The Free Press announced the list of participating clubs on 15 October 1898. They were: Alexandra Park, Barnet Avenue, Bowes Church, Cowley Athletic, Crouch End Vampires Reserves, Dalkeith, Ferme Park Institute, Finchley, Great Northern Railway, Hendon, Hornsey Vale, Mount View, Muswell Hill, New Barnet, Old Tollingtonians.

On 10 December 1898 The Barnet Press published the draw for the first round.

New Barnet v. Mount View

Barnet Avenue v. Alexandra Park

Dalkeith v. Hendon

Hornsey Vale v. Ferme Park Institute                                                                                    

Muswell Hill v. Cowley Athletic

Crouch End Vampires Reserves v. Great Northern Railway

Old Tollingtonians v. Bowes Church

All first-round matches were to be played on the 7 January 1899 with the first-named club having choice of ground.

First Round – Muswell Hill v. Cowley Athletic / 7 January 1899

Muswell Hill 1 – 0 Cowley Athletic

Referee: H. C. Howell

Muswell Hill team

Goal: J. McStamper

Backs: J. Corben; P. Hawke

Half-backs: R. Smith; F. Robinson; F. Buckler

Forwards: W. Potter; F. Ellingham; P. Windett; F. Wheaton; H. Baxter

Cowley Athletic team

Goal: Harrison

Backs: F. Gray; V. Simon

Half-backs: H.S. Bell; H.P. Dixon; G. Dixon

Forwards: W.B. Well; C. Gray; F.E. Hart; A. Miller; G. Wood

Match report

The match is played at Nightingale Lane. On the day, the ground was bit soft and heavy, which “brought failure to many a good bout of passing.” North Middlesex Chronicle, 14 January 1889

Early in the game it was evident that a good struggle would result, and the play was very fast… Neither side could make much headway as the defence on both sides was very sound. Danger, however, threatened the home goal when the Cowley forwards made a combined attack, Wood and Miller being conspicuous. Hawke, however, brought relief, and half-time with the score-sheet blank.

The Holloway and Hornsey Press, 13 January 1889

After the interval the home side played up in determined fashion, and the forwards were seen to much better advantage, the left wing in Baxter and Wheaton showing some effective football, the former playing his best game so far this season. Excitement, however, ran high when C. Gray (perhaps the fastest man on the field) got clear of the home backs who were lying rather far up the field, and had the goal at his mercy, but in attempting to score from a cross-shot sent the ball wide of the post, a chance of lifetime being thus lost.

Both sides were putting in all they knew to gain an advantage, and Muswell Hill came away finely, the ball going all along the line in fine style, hands against. G. Dixson, however, brought temporary relief to the visitors, but Hawke placed the free-kick well in front of goal, and after being; headed by several players Windett eventually headed it into the net. Cowley strove hard to get on terms, and play was for some time in the home quarter. Hawke again showed fine form and cleared cleverly. The homesters then went away in a line, but H. Dixon broke up the attempt, and kicked well over Hawke’s head to C. Gray, who made another run for goal, but Corben robbed him in neat fashion. Ellingham and Windett were then conspicuous, the latter deserving to score with a very fine shot which was capitally saved by Harrison at the expense of a corner.

For some time after this Muswell Hill pressed, and Baxter had a splendid opening, but his shot went wide. Neither side flagged in their efforts to score, and when time was called a game contested in the best friendly spirit resulted in a win for Muswell Hill. Score: Muswell hill 1 goal, Cowley Athletic nil.

North Middlesex Chronicle, 14 January 1889

Second Round – Muswell Hill v. Bowes Church – 28 January 1899

Muswell Hill  – 1 Bowes Church (Game abandoned at 1-1)

Muswell Hill team

Goal: J. McStamper

Backs: W. Prichard; P. Hawke

Half-backs: R. Smith; J. Corben; F. Buckler

Forwards: A. Windett; F. Ellingham; P. Windett; F. Wheaton; H. Baxter

Match report

Bowes Church won the toss and play opened fast, the home forwards setting the pace. Well backed up by the half-backs, the home forwards maintained pressure round the Church goal, and a good shot from the right by Baxter beat the Church custodian without giving him a chance. The visitors then had a turn at attacking, Stamper having to fist away, but a few minutes later he failed to clear in time, and Bogey equalised without any difficulty.

The Free Press, 4 February 1899

Towards the end of the first half, with the score at 1-1, referee C Gordon Stuart ruled that the ground was unfit for a cup-tie due to the frost-bound pitch. The two clubs continued to play the game as a friendly with MHFC winning 4-1.

Second Round Replay – Muswell Hill v. Bowes Park – 4 February 1899

Muswell Hill 3 – 0 Bowes Church

Referee: W. H. London

Muswell Hill team

Goal: J. McStamper

Backs: W. Prichard; P. Hawke

Half-backs: M. Mott; J. Corben; E. Robinson

Forwards: A. Windett; F. Ellingham; P. Windett; F. Wheaton; H. Baxter

Match report

Despite being without three of their regular players, Smith, Buckler, and Cassy, who are replaced by M. Mott, E. Robinson, and A. Windett respectively, Muswell Hill were still the better team.

The homesters played down the slope during the opening half, but play was of a scrambling nature, the home forwards indulging in too much individual work, with the result that very little progress was made, notwithstanding the fact that play was in Muswell’s favour, the home defenders keeping Church attack well under control. The ground was rather slippery, and the players found it difficult to keep their feet, and this will no doubt account for many of the faults apparent. When the half-time arrived the score sheet was blank.

After changing ends Muswell Hill showed a distinct improvement, the combination among the forwards being much better and up to the usual standard. Consequently, goals were not long in coming. Percy Windett opened Muswell’s account with a fine shot after receiving a neat pass from Wheaton. Keeping up the pace and having at last got into their stride, the homesters gave the visitors’ defence an anxious time, but they eventually got through again, Ellingham scoring number 2 with a very hot shot.

The Church custodian on was severely pressed, and many shots were directed towards him with considerable force, but he fisted away vigorously time after time, and then the play was transferred to mid-field, and Bowes Church a last and determined effort to penetrate the home defence. Hawke, however, cleared his lines, and then Windett was to the fore in an attack on the Church goal, but a foul against the visitors spoiled the effort. Baxter was next prominent with one of his fast runs, but his centre was not turned to account. Pretty play was then witnessed among the home forwards, and Wheaton receiving a pass in a favourable position placed the third point to the home team’s credit. This was the extent of the scoring, Muswell Hill 3 goals: Bowes Church nil.

North Middlesex Chronicle, 11 February 1889

Semi-final – Muswell Hill v. Mount View 25 February 1899

Muswell Hill 5 – 1 Mount View

Referee: G. A. Bond

Muswell Hill team

Goal: J. McStamper

Backs: W. Prichard; P. Hawke

Half-backs: R. Smith; J. Cohen     ; F. Buckler

Forwards: F. Harvey; J. Cassey; P. Windett; F. Wheaton; H. Baxter

Mount View team

Goal: J. Halford

Backs: G. Grant; C. Baines

Half-backs: H. Watson; F. Roberts; L. Roberts

Forwards: L. Mirylees; E. Ayling; W. Hutchinson; J. Steward; J. Lethbridge

Match report

This was the last cup tie of the season at Nightingale Lane. The game was played just days after two successive semi-finals of the London Junior Cup against Lorn. Being late February, the ground was expectedly soft and heavy, but this didn’t get in the way of a good game enjoyed by about 300 enthusiastic spectators.

Mount View started the game with a rush into Muswell’s quarters, but this was repulsed in fine style by Hawke, and a few minutes later saw the homesters in the ascendancy, and the visiting custodian was called upon to fist away. Give and take play followed, but Baxter breaking away made a fine run, beating Roberts and Baines, and ending up with a beautiful centre, which Wheaton converted with a pretty low shot. The visitors then took up the attack, and Stamper was kept on the alert, but eventually beaten by a swift cross shot from Ayling. However, as the interval approached Muswell were seen to greater advantage, and Wheaton scored a good goal from a nice long pass by Baxter. Half-time saw Muswell leading by two goals to one.

After changing ends the result was never in doubt, and not many minutes had elapsed before Windett scored the third goal with a terrific shot. Almost immediately afterwards Wheaton added a fourth from a splendid centre by Baxter. The game was now rather one-sided as Muswell were continually in the vicinity of Mount View’s goal, and eventually Harvey scored with a low cross. Shortly after the referee called time with the score: Muswell Hill 5 goals and Mount View 1 goal.

The Free Press, 4 March 1899

Final – Muswell Hill v. Hendon – 8 April 1899

Muswell Hill 2 – 0 Hendon

Referee: A.W. McQue

Linesmen: T. Roberts (Mouth View); J. Moriarty (St. Barnabas)

The final is played on the ground in the middle of Wood Green Cycling Track and is scheduled to start at 4.15 pm following a game between Crouch End Vampires and Queen’s Park Rangers. Admission is 6d, 3d for boys and “ladies free”.

Muswell Hill team

Goal: J. McStamper

Backs: W. Prichard; P. Hawke

Half-backs: R. Smith; J. Corben; F. Buckler

Forwards: F. Harvey; J. Cassy; P. Windett: F. Wheaton: H. Baxter

Hendon team

Goal: W. Young

Backs: J. Painter; H. Lowndes

Half-backs: C. Prince; T. Baggott; R. Botting

Forwards: F. Bowyer; F. Lessiter; C. Rogers; W. Olds; W. Hildyard

Match report

There were around 800 spectators, a considerably high number, but The Holloway and Hornsey Press, 14 April 1889, suggests that the stormy weather earlier in the day probably prevented hundreds more attending. A strong wind continued to blow throughout the game. The match is played at a lively pace, and the teams exhibit a remarkably friendly spirit throughout the game. The referees find themselves with little to do, as the players maintain good sportsmanship and fair play.

The match report was published several local newspapers, including The Holloway and Hornsey Press, The Barnet Press, The Weekly Herald, and the North Middlesex Chronicle, with almost the same words and very little editorial variation.

MHFC certainly possess a fine team. Forwards of the calibre of Baxter and Windett require a good deal of watching, whilst they also have a sturdy defence. Hendon, however, intend to show that although they have been knocked out of principal cup competitions, they are equal to any of the other junior clubs in London district, and as they recently gave a good display on the Muswell-hill ground, we confidently expect to see them give London Junior Cup holders a hard game. Hendon require something tangible in the shape of a cup or medals as the result of the season’s work, and should this trophy be secured by them, it will be a source of gratification.

The Hendon and Finchley, 7 April 1899

The wind was very strong, and consequently caused the play to be for the greater part in Muswell Hill’s territory. The whole defence was, however, always on the alert, so that the Hendon men had few opportunities allowed them in which to shoot. In fact, it may be of interest here to state that Stamper only had to save twice throughout the game, in the shooting of the Hendon forwards being anything but accurate. Muswell Hill then took up the offensive, Baxter and Wİndett taking the ball through and a goal seemed imminent, but Lowndes got in the way of Windett’s final shot.

The Holloway and Hornsey Press, 14 April 1899

Hendon again threatened danger at the other end, Hawke miskicking and letting Bowyer through. Prichard, however, came across, and robbing Bowyer in clever fashion, sent the ball back. Cassy and Wheaton exhibiting some effective play caused Paiter to show a fine defence, and he broke up the attempt… Muswell Hill still maintained their attack, and Baxter nearly caused the downfall of the Hendon goal with a cross shot, which Wheaton ought to have put through on the other side. This brought relief to the Hendonians, whose forwards now combined well, but Smith robbed (H)ildyard cleverly at the critical moment. Although playing against a strong wind Muswell Hill had quite as much of the game as Hendon, and Young had to save several times, one particularly hot shot from Cassy being tipped over the bar. The resulting corner was well placed, but Botting headed it away, and shortly after half-time was called, neither party having scored.

North Middlesex Chronicle, 15 April 1889

On the resumption of play, Hendon made tracks for Muswell’s goal, Hillyard sending behind. This enabled Muswell Hill to carry the play into Hendon’s territory, and Young had to save a fine shot from Windett, and a few minutes later another from Corben was cleverly fisted away. Muswell Hill now had the best of matters; in fact, they continued press for some time but could not penetrate the defence of Painter, Lowndes, and Young. Then Lowndes let Wheaton through, and this player succeeded in beating Young at close quarters amid great cheering.

This reverse infused some vigour into Hendon who then attacked determinedly, but without result. Two corners, however, fell to their lot, and from one of them they came near scoring. Following this the game became faster, and Muswell Hill showed up better, their play hereabouts being very good. Baxter again made good use of his pace, and overcoming all opposition on the right followed up with a grand centre to Cassy, who added No. 2 with a lightning shot. This practically put the result beyond doubt. and although play continued in Hendon’s half nothing further was scored.

The Holloway and Hornsey Press, 14 April 1899

Historic milestone

In the culminating moments of the third season of the Finchley and District Challenge Cup, MHFC achieved a historic milestone by securing the title of cup holders for the first time. This remarkable success was accomplished through a competitive four-round knock-out tournament, marking a significant shift in the cup’s reigning champions. Notably, MHFC’s triumph also brought an end to Finchley Football Club’s streak of consecutive victories in the cup competition.

Matches and scores of the Finchley [and District] Challenge Cup

Round 1

Muswell Hill 1
Cowley Athletic 0

Old Tollingtonians 1
Bowes Church 4

New Barnet 0
Mount View 2

Crouch End Vampires 2 [0]
Great Northern Railway 2 [1]

Dalkeith 2
Hendon 4

Barnet Avenue 6
Alexandra Park 0

Hornsey Vale 1
Ferme Park Institute 0

Finchley
Bye first round

Quarter-final

Muswell Hill 3
Bowes Church 0

Mount View 4
Great Northern Railway 1

Hendon 2
Barnet Avenue 0

Hornsey Vale 0
Finchley 1

Semi-final

Muswell Hill 5
Mount View 1

Hendon 4
Finchley 1

Final

Muswell Hill 2
Hendon 0

(The following season, Muswell Hill won the cup for the second consecutive year beating Cowley Athletics in the final on 14th April 1900.)

4.    Finchley and District League

The 1898-99 season was the first season of the Finchley and District Football League. For the previous few years, the local clubs had mainly played friendlies against each other without the formal structure of a competition. The first attempt to organise the games more officially was with the Finchley and District Challenge Cup (see previous section) which had started in 1896-97. The formation of the Finchley and District League was the next step in creating a more organised, official structure.

The first meeting of the Council of the League  was held on 24 August 1898 at the Bald Faced Stag in East Finchley. Future meetings of the Council would be held monthly on the first Friday of each month.

Bald Faced Stag is the late 19th century and today.

Two committees were elected at the meeting:

Finance and Emergency: A. Miller (Cowley Athletic), A. A. Moore (Finchley), G. Painter (Hendon), L. T. Roberts (Mount View) and C. M. Woolsey (Holy Trinity).

Referees Appointment: H. Adams (Old Nortonians), J. Moriarty (St. Barnabas) and T. T. Robinson (Muswell Hill).

Composition of divisions

The organisation and composition of the league’s different divisions was also decided:

Division I Premier Division

  • Cowley Athletic Finchley
  • Great Northern Railway
  • Hendon
  • Muswell Hill
  • Old Nortonians

Division II – Northern Section

  • Cowley Athletic Reserves
  • Finchley Reserves
  • Great Northern Railway Reserves
  • Holy Trinity
  • Old Nortonians Reserves
  • St. Paul’s (Finchley)

Division II – Southern Section

  • Edgware
  • Hendon Reserves
  • Mill Hill
  • Muswell Hill Reserves
  • St. Barnabas
  • Totteridge United

Toward the end of the season, in January 1899, Finchley FC officially requested to withdraw both their teams from the league. Permission was given for them to do so in early February 1899, and as a result, the final records and table for the league were revised to exclude all Finchley results. This account of the season therefore does not include the games Muswell Hill played against Finchley.

Because the clubs were also participating in other cup competitions, it wasn’t possible to play the league fixtures on a weekly basis, so they were played when both a time and a ground were available.

Week 1: Muswell Hill v. Great Northern Railway – 24 September 1898

Muswell Hill 4 – 2 Great Northern Railway

Referee: S. Manches.

Muswell Hill team

Goal: J. McStamper

Backs: W. Prichard; P. Hawke

Half-backs: R. Smith; J. Corben; T. Robinson

Forwards: F. Ellingham; P. Chapman; P. Windett; F. Wheaton; F. Buckler

Match report

The match is Muswell Hill’s inaugural game in the Finchley League and also their opening match at the Nightingale Lane ground. The ground had a capacity of 300, and admission cost 3d, although the covered stand was free. The club also offered season tickets at 2s 6d for first team games. As there were only five home games in the league, the season ticket was almost certainly valid for all home games, including cup games and friendlies. (By the end of the season, Muswell Hill first team had played 17 games on their home ground.)

For this first game, Muswell Hill were missing two of their regular players: Potter was still suffering from an illness/injury and Cassy had injured his shoulder.

In the first half of the match, GNR seems to be the better team though playing up the slope. Around 10th minute comes the first goal of the match for GNR. After a while, Hawke, in an attempt to clear a cross from the left, puts the ball in his own goal and the score board shows 2-0 for GNR. But Muswell Hill continues to play cool and steady. Following a continuous press, Buckler heads a clever goal after a nicely combined play. Just before the half time, Windett equalises the score with a splendid shot. In the second half, Muswell Hill are clearly the better side. First, Windett puts them ahead with another pretty shot. Then, a penalty kick is awarded for fouling Wheaton. And again, Windett easily scores for a third time.

The Free Press, 1 October 1898

Week 2 – Muswell Hill v. Cowley Athletic / 1 October 1898

Muswell Hill 2 – 0 Cowley Athletic

Referee: E. Hammond.

Muswell Hill team

Goal: J. McStamper

Back: W. Prichard; P. Hawke

Half-backs: R. Smith; J. Corben; T. Robinson

Forwards: F. Wheaton; F. Ellingham; P. Windett; F. Buckler; H. Baxter

Cowley Athletic team

Goal: A. R. Bell

Backs: V. Simmons; A. Miller

Half-backs: G. J. Dixon; H. B. Dixon; H. S. Bell

Forwards: W. V. Bell; C. Gray; F. E. Hart; A. Martin; G. Wood

Muswell Hill played their second league game on their home ground again. The weather was glorious, the pitch was perfect and there was a considerable increase in the number of spectators.

In the opening minutes both teams did some attacking. “Muswell Hill were, however, more together, and their attack was far superior to that of their opponents.” The Free Press, 8 October 1898

Later in the first half, when Windett is fouled, Robinson takes the free-kick and Wheaton is able to head the first goal of Muswell Hill in the match. Before the end of the first half, Baxter scores another goal, but the referee whistles off-side. The second half starts with momentarily attacks of Cowley Athletic, nevertheless the defence of Muswell Hill prevents them from becoming dangerous.

Plenty of vigour was imparted into the play of both sides, and the game was wonderfully even. The visitors’ custodians hereabouts saved several hot shots in splendid style, but from a melée in front of the Cowley goal Buckler added the second point… Play continued to be of an interesting character, but when time was called no further scoring had taken place.

North Middlesex Chronicle, 8 October 1898

Week 3- Great Northern Railway v. Muswell Hill / 19 November 1898

Great Northern Railway 1 – 4 Muswell Hill

No team list recorded

The return game against GNR is played on the home team’s Green Dragon ground at Winchmore Hill. Unlike the first game, this time it is Muswell Hill who score the first goal around the tenth minute. Another goal comes following continuous pressure on Barron’s goal. Just after the beginning of the second half, Muswell Hill score the third goal. GNR score their only goal with a good shot straight after kick-off, but about ten minutes before the end of the game, Muswell Hill are awarded a penalty which seals the score at 4-1 in favour of the visitors.

The game was to a certain extent spoiled by the referee, who made use of his whistle upon the most trivial occasions; free kicks were frequently given for charges which were not even vigorous, much less foul.

The Barnet Press, 26 November 1898

A historic day

This was a historic day for the club: for the first time, MHFC had put out three different teams on the same day. The club had tried to do this several times since 1895, but had always failed, either because the teams were short in number, or because the pitches weren’t fit to play on. However, on 19 November 1898, while the first team played against Great Northern Railway in the Finchley League, Muswell Hill Reserves beat Mill Hill four nil in the Southern Section of Division II of the League, and a third Muswell Hill team  journeyed to Hackney Wick where they lost four nil against Eton Mission Reserves.

Week 4 – Old Nortonians v. Muswell Hill / 10 December 1898

Old Nortonians 1 – 2 Muswell Hill

Muswell Hill team

Goal: H. Godwin

Backs: W. Prichard; P. Hawke

Half-backs: R. Smith; J. Corben; F. Buckler

Forwards: F. Ellingham; W. Potter; P. Windett; F. Wheaton; J. Cassy

Match report

The ground wasn’t the best, and the ball jumped about in a very awkward manner giving the Muswell Hill backs a lot of trouble. The home team scored first, but Muswell Hill were the better side throughout.

… Adams got possession and passed well forward to Miller. Hawke slipped in trying to clear and the ball came into the goal mouth. There was a scramble, through with Miller saw an opening, and the ball just went into the corner of the net… A smart run by Muswell forwards ended in Wheaton netting the ball, but off-side was given. At length Ellingham got away, and quickly transferred to Potter, who got in a good centre. Windett took the pass neatly and running round the backs beat the goalkeeper with a fast shot… Buckler got the best of Adams and Reeding in a smart tussle and put the ball right into the goal mouth. One of the backs just reached it, but it went straight into the air and came right down under the bar, there was a rush by Wheaton and Windett, and ball and the goalkeeper were in the net, and Muswell Hill were a goal to the good… The light was getting bad, and Muswell Hill slowed down a bit in the last few minutes, time coming with the score unaltered, Muswell Hill 2, Old Nortonians 1.

North Middlesex Chronicle, 17 December 1898

With this victory, Muswell Hill strengthened their position in the league: played 4; won 4, goals for 12; goals against 4. Having heavy fixtures in both the London Junior Cup and the Finchley and District Cup, Muswell Hill didn’t play any more league games until March. They had been due to play a league match against Hendon on 17 December 1898, but the game was postponed until 4 March 1899 because Hendon had to replay their cup tie against Harleston in the Middlesex Junior Cup.

Week 5 – Muswell Hill v. Hendon / 4 March 1899

Muswell Hill 3 – 1 Hendon

Referee: J. J. Denyar

Muswell Hill team

Goal: J. McStamper

Back: W. Prichard; P. Hawke

Half-backs: R. Smith; J. Corben; M. Mott

Forwards: F. Wheaton; F. Ellingham; P. Windett; J. Cassy; H. Baxter

Background to the match

Hendon, who had been the dominant team in the area for the past three seasons, were MHFC’s main rivals in every competition this season. With an away league match at Hendon still to come, a home win was essential if Muswell Hill wanted to maintain their chances of winning the league.

Match report

Play was exciting throughout the game in a friendly spirit and enjoyed by some 300 spectators.

The Holloway & Hornsey Press, 10 March 1899

Muswell Hill are the first to score. Following a corner kick, Hendon’s goalkeeper Roberts fists the ball away. A scrimmage follows in the box. Though Roberts saves the shot, but eventually the referee decides that the ball passed the goal line. The goal is followed by several attacks of MHFC, some serious ones saved by Roberts. But then Rogers or Baggott -there are contradicting information on different papers- from Hendon gets possession of the ball. After having saved three shots in quick succession, the last shot goes into the net as the equaliser.

In the second half Muswell Hill had the benefit of the wind and slope, and they made the best use of their opportunities. Hendon, however, kept their charge intact until midway through, Roberts giving a good display between the uprights. Then Muswell Hill gained the lead from another scrimmage, (from a corner well placed by Smith, Wheaton headed number 2 for homesters amid great excitement). and from this point to the end, they had rather the better of the game. Still the visitors played pluckily, and McStammer was frequently called upon. The most difficult shot he had to deal was that from Rogers, which he cleverly saved while on the ground. (The home forwards then exhibited some good combination all along the line, and Cassy sending the ball right across the goal mouth, Ellingham scored a third point with a clinking shot.) Thus putting the issue beyond doubt. In the last few minutes, the Hendon defence was sorely taxed, and it was fortunate that Roberts was in good form. Painter, too, cleverly averted disaster on one occasion. The closing score were: Muswell Hill 3, Hendon 1. 

Combined reports from Hendon & Finchley Times, 10 March 1899 and The Free Press, 11 March 1899

Muswell Hill’s victory puts them three points ahead of Hendon in the league. According to the local Hendon papers, the disappointing result was due to the heavy ground not suiting their team and the questionable refereeing: “at least, such was the referee’s decision, but some thought otherwise.” Hendon & Finchley Times – Friday 10 March 1899

Week 6 – Muswell Hill v. Old Nortonians / 18 March 1899

Muswell Hill 5 – 1 Old Nortonians

No team list recorded.

Match report

This was MHFC’s last home game of season. They were leading the league and were still unbeaten.

The play was very even for some time, the attack of both sides being kept under by the backs. However, from a smart return right in front of the goal, Wheaton opened the scoring for Muswell with a splendid oblique shot. A few minutes later the homesters notched a second point. The Nortonians then showed some improvement, and were dangerous on several occasions, Miller at length heading the ball through. Nothing further was scored before half-time. With a lead of two goals to one the homesters were seen to greater advantage, and had matters all their own way, the Old Boys only breaking away occasionally. The third goal came after ten minutes’ play, and a little later the homesters were awarded a penalty, but Windett failed to score. However, Wheaton rushed up and put the ball into the net. Play was very ragged for the rest of the game, the homesters doing all the attacking. A corner fell to Muswell, and this being well placed by Robertson, the ball glanced off one of the old Boys into the net.

The Free Press, 25 March 1899

Muswell Hill had now finished their home games and the Nightingale Lane ground was closed to get it ready for the coming cricket season. At home, MHFC had been magnificent: they had played 17 matches and won them all, scoring 45 goals and only conceding 9.

Week 7 – Hendon v. Muswell Hill / 22 April 1899

Hendon 4 – 3 Muswell Hill

Muswell Hill team

Goal: F. Chapman

Backs: W. Prichard; P. Hawke

Half-backs: R. Smith; J. Corben; F. Buckler

Forwards: F. Wheaton; J. Cassy; P. Windett; F. Harvey; H. Baxter

Hendon team

Goal: B. Young

Backs: G. Painter; W. Lawndes

Half-backs: A. Prince; S. Lessiter; R. F. Botting

Forwards: G. Bowyer; A. Lessiter; J. T. Baggott; G. Rogers; E. Hildyard

Background

The match could have decided the league title. A win or draw for Muswell Hill would have made them league champions. On the other hand, if Muswell Hill lost, then Hendon still had the chance of finishing top.

The clubs had already played each three times in the season. Muswell Hill had won the earlier league game on 4 March 1899 and also won the final of the Finchley Cup. Hendon had won the Middlesex Junior Cup tie.

Both clubs were able to field strong teams, although Muswell Hill’s first-choice goalkeeper McStammer was missing.

Match report

The opening half was somewhat in favour of Muswell Hill, although the play was hardly deserving a lead of two goals. Both points were rather luckily obtained. The first came from a free kick in front of goal, one of the Hendon players being guilty, although we thought not intentionally, of handling the ball. Baxter headed the leather between the uprights. The second goal was scored by Cassy, and over this there was some dispute, the home aide having appealed for offside. However, the referee remained firm.

The first ten minutes of second half completely altered the aspect of the game, and rarely, if ever, has such rapid scoring been seen on the Hendon ground. Directly after the restart Bowyer put in a fine centre, which Rogers turned to good effect, hearty applause notifying the fact that the trick had a length been accomplished. This put the “Reds” on their mettle, and with a chance of victory, they worked energetically. A corner fell to their lot -this was splendidly placed by Bowyer, the ball, in fact, travelling along the bar. Before it could be got away S. Lessiter had popped it into the net, thus equalising the scores. This was not all, however, as Hildyard, with one of his old time runs up the field, finished with a shot with which Chapman could not cope. Three goals in seven minutes! But it was barely over the quarter of an hour from the re-start when Hildyard scored a fourth point. This was shortly afterwards followed by a one from Muswell Hill… Hendon, however, accomplished their object, and the players were greeted with loud cheers as they left the field victorious by four goals to three.

Hendon & Finchley Times, 28 April 1899

The result puts Muswell Hill in a tough position: to win the championship, they must win their last game of the season which is against Cowley Athletic. If it is a draw, they would be equal on points with Hendon and the league would be decided on goal average.

Week 8 – Cowley Athletic v. Muswell Hill / 29 April 1899

Cowley Athletic 0 – 3 Muswell Hill

No team list recorded

Match report

Cowley Athletic had only won two games this season and so no one expected them to win, but this was football and anything was possible.

The match kicked off at 3.30 pm at Cowley Athletic’s Barnet ground. Admission was 2d and attendance was high.

The weather was quite windy and had a negative impact on the quality of the play,  yet Muswell Hill were the better side on the pitch and managed to score twice in the first half. A third goal came in the second half and MHFC win the game 3 goals to nil sealing the league championship. They thus become the first holders of the league cup and the players are presented winners medals.

Hendon having defeated Muswell Hill by 4 goals to 3 on the 22nd of April, it rested with the latter club to draw with or beat Cowley Athletic on the latter’s ground in order to win the championship. The match was decided on Saturday, and a large crowd gathered to see what promised to be a good game… Adding a third in the second half [Muswell Hill] ran our winners of the match and the League by 3 goals to 0. They thus became the first holders of the League Cup, also taking the winners medals, while Hendon secure these for the runners-up.

Holloway Press, 5 May 1899

Final Table of Finchley and District League Division I for 1898-9

TeamPWLDFAPoints
Muswell Hill8710261014
Hendon8611241313
Old Nortonians825120175
Cowley Athletic82609174
G.N. Railway826044254

Finchley and District League Division II Southern Section

Muswell Hill Reserves, playing in Division II Southern Section also had a great season. By the end of 7th game, they were unbeaten and top of the league with 4 wins and 3 draws. Sadly, they lost their next home games against Edgware and St. Barnabas. Despite winning away against St. Barnabas in the final week of the league, they could only manage to finish in third place on goal difference.

To decide the champion of the Division II, the Committee concludes during the very first meeting the leaders of two sections to play 2 final games with each other. Edgware becomes the champions on goal difference -again-, winning 3-0 the first match and losing the second 2-0.

Final tables of Finchley League Division II Northern and Southern Sections

Division II. (Northern Section)
TeamPWLDFAPoints
Holy Trinity870125515
Cowley Athletic Reserves843118159
St Paul’s844019178
Old Nortonians Reserves826010204
G.N. Railway Reserves826012274
Division II. (Southern Section)
TeamPWLDFAPoints
Edgeware1060437916
Hendon Reserves1041529913
Muswell Hill Reserves10523211013
St. Barnabas10523211613
Mill Hill101818473
Totteridge United100825302

5.    EPILOGUE

Over the summer months, the three trophies that MHFC had won during the season were put on exhibition in several shops including Messrs. Warboys and Co.’s shop in Finsbury Park and Messrs. Wheaton and Bennett’s shop on Oxford Street.

The Finchley and District League Committee also released a call for the coming season, with interested clubs asked to communicate their interest to Honorary Secretary H. T. Godwin without delay. Given the success of the first year, the call for more clubs attracts considerable interest and the following season, 1899-1900 is played with 3 divisions.  Division I, however, remains with 5 teams.

Muswell Hill first team become the champions of Division I again, only losing one game, and finishing 6 points ahead of runners-up Hendon. They also won the Finchley Cup for the second consecutive year, this time beating Cowley Athletic in the final 14 April 1900.

Muswell Hill Football Club endured through subsequent years, with traces of its existence discernible in historical records until the early 1960s. According to the Middlesex Sports Guide, Muswell Hill Football Club was still in existence in 1962, where it was listed along with the contact details for N. Hamm, 66 Hornsey Lane, N.6.

At least they had a junior football team affiliated to the Middlesex County Youth Football Association. However, definitive confirmation regarding whether these references indicate the continuation of the same football club remains elusive. Subsequently, the club seemingly fades from the football scene, leaving a gap in its documented history.

In conclusion, this exploration represents a preliminary desktop research attempt, relying on extracts gathered from newspapers and periodicals of the era. A comprehensive study on MHFC requires another methodology, awaiting the dedication of an enthusiast who can delve deeper into archives and resources to unearth the comprehensive narrative of this local football club.

Sources

This article is based on information gathered from the issues of newspapers and periodicals of the period listed below. In many cases, match reports are almost the same or there are minor differences in these publications on the grounds that the reports were drafted and sent to the papers by the representatives / secretaries of the clubs.

The problem with the local papers of the period is that they don’t publish photographs. Most probably it wasn’t cost-efficient for these local papers given that high-selling newspapers of the period or the ones reaching broader audience print visual materials.

  • Barnet Press
  • Camden and Kentish Towns and St. Pancras Gazette
  • Evening News
  • Football Evening News
  • Free Press
  • Hendon & Finchley Times
  • Holloway and Hornsey Press
  • Hornsey and Finsbury Park Journal and North Islington Standard
  • Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News
  • Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper
  • Morning Leader
  • North Middlesex Chronicle
  • South London Press
  • Sporting Life
  • Sporting Life
  • Weekly Herald
  • Weston-super-Mare Gazette

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