Kenneth Campbell’s life story – Part V

June 4, 1921
When Albert Shepherd bested Liverpool,
And what a walking in Epping Forest led to.

By Kenneth Campbell

“Kenneth Campbell, the famous goalkeeper for Partick Thistle and Scotland, continues the story of his football career. Joining Liverpool when a lad as understudy to the renounced Sam Hardy, the prince of English goalkeepers, Kenneth ultimately succeeded in displacing Hardy, who went to Aston Villa. A year ago he, was chosen to guard Scotia’s goal against England, and shortly afterwards he joined Partick Thistle, and this season he played against Wales and Ireland, and helped his club to win the Scottish Cup.”

Although admitting that I reached the goal (no pun meant) of my ambition in being selected to play for my country in its international games, there are in my possession two souvenirs of my football career of which I feel most proud.

These are the medals I received for appearing in the final for the English Cup, and being on the winning side in the last round of the Scottish Cup at the end of the season just finished.

These are honours which every player sets as the pinnacle of his ambition. Yes, lots of people, I know, say that the professional football player hasn’t a soul above the monetary side of the game, but let me tell you this – I have never yet met a player whose heart did not yearn for the position of being able to say that he was one of the team which won the highest honour in the land.

Not many reach that height, and in being thus doubly honoured I feel there is but little for me to gain now. Still, one never knows. Partick Thistle have just as good a chance of winning the Scottish Cup or the League next season as they had when they started out in August last.

Of the tussles we had ere losing to Burnley in the final of 1913-14 I will tell you later on, but in the meantime let me relate a great experience I had in the preceding year’s tie against Newcastle United.

Our first round tie was with Bristol City. This match, due to be played on Saturday, 11th January, was not even started on that day, owing to a great snowstorm. Do you remember the occasion? I do.

Bristol duly appeared at Anfield on the Wednesday following, however, and we won three to nothing.

Our next round was at Woolwich, and, as the Arsenal team were not doing so well then, we had it pretty easy, winning by four goals to one.

Kenneth Campbell part 5 1

A memorable struggle
Then came our memorable struggle with Newcastle United. We felt fairly confident of getting through in this encounter. We had beaten the League leaders, Sheffield Wednesday, the week previous, and Newcastle had gone down to Manchester City on their own ground.

That tie drew out a great attendance to our ground. As far as I recollect, the number was given out as 37,000, figures which were only beaten at Birmingham where Aston Villa played Crystal Palace.

Newcastle evidently meant business, as they played Albert Shepherd in the centre, and also introduced Hibbert at inside right. My old friends, Jimmy Lawrence, Jimmy Hay, and Willy Low were also in the Newcastle side.

It seems to be using a well-worn stock phrase to say it was a game full of real Cup-tie football, but that is how I can best describe it. Alternatively our boys seemed to gain the ascendancy, and then we verged on being the beaten side.

We led at half-time by a goal, and but for sheer bad luck we ought to have been two up. Had we got this advantage I feel sure we would have qualified to meet Sunderland in the next round instead of the Newcastle team.

Yes, our luck was out when Goddard missed a chance from a penalty awarded against Low for handling. Our outside right, usually a safe shot, drove straight at Lawrence.

What made this failure more disappointing was the fact that Newcastle got a goal from a somewhat similar situation. I was the culprit on this occasion.

I give away a goal
Jock Rutherford was most persistent that day, and I had a difficult job saving the shots he rained in one me, more especially as Albert Shepherd was never far away when I was clearing.

Well, on one occasion when Rutherford shot in, I was close beset by the opposing forwards, including the hurricane Shepherd. In my anxiety to clear I carried the ball too far – according to the referee – and a foul was granted close to the goalmouth.

Naturally our boys were chagrined at this, but they set themselves to avoid disaster. They formed a human barricade in front of the goal, and it seemed impossible for a ball to get through. Albert Shephered, however, must have seen a loophole, for he drove the ball right through the maze of legs into the back of the net.

If I was in a manner responsible for that equalising goal, I think I can take credit for saving our side from defeat later on, for, when Rutherford was clear through, and had the goal at his mercy, I risked serious injury by coming out to meet him. I saved the goal, but receiving an injury which I felt for many a day afterwards.

It was a great struggle right up to the end, but one goal each was the final result.

We went on to Newcastle on the following Wednesday, where there was another great crowd, almost 40,000. We didn’t play so well that day, and eventually went out of the ties by 1 goal to 0. It was a great disappointment to the whole of us.

Our Cup-tie successes
The following season’s Cup-tie successes, however, made amends for everything. We started by only drawing with Barnsley at Anfield. Our Cup-tie team on that occasion was: – Myself; Longworth and Pursell; Fairfoull, Lowe, and Ferguson; Sheldon, Lacey, Parkinson, Miller, and Mackinlay.

We had trained quietly for this game at home. Good, sound, stiff training, going over the Mersey to the Cheshire side on Friday (which, being pay day, is usually a day off), and walking along the sea-front for some miles.

Then tea at Hoylake (where I had the pleasure of seeing some of our men beat the Yankees in the Golf Championship last week) and back to Liverpool, with a theatre or music hall in the evening.

We were hot stuff, but we found the Yorkshiremen just as hot, and we just got off with a draw, although Parkinson, our centre, might have scored in the last minute had Cooper, the Barnsley goalkeeper, not made a brilliant save.

One very lucky incident – for us – happened just shortly before the finish. Barnsley were pressing, and one of their forwards shot the ball though a crowd of players in the goalmouth. I never saw the ball at all, but I felt it hit my leg, and the next thing I saw was the ball lying behind the goal – “a corner kick” – what a let off ! !

Everyone thought that was the finish of the “Reds,” as it was popularly imagined we would never survived at Barnsley.

Barnsley was en fete for the replay. All the colliers and other industrial concerns closed down for the match, so the home team did not lack for support. Never have I seen a more excited crowd, and as the minutes flew without a score the excitement became intense.

Just three minutes from the end Lacey, by an almost superhuman effort got through a goal, and we retired happy to be in the second round.

The second round tie with Gillingham – the team Sam Gilligan left is to go to – was no trouble to us, and we won comfortably by 2-0.

Duels with Puddefoot
In the third round we had sterner stuff. West Ham having to be met at Upton Park. I have reason to remember that day. It was my first introduction to Puddefoot, then making his name with the “Hammers.”

What a duel between the pair of us. Syd peppered me with all manner of shots, and it took me all my time to keep my end up till the interval.

A goal by Nicholl, the Middlesbrough man who played outside left for us, gave us some cheer just after half-time. It seemed a walk-over for us after this, but there’s many a slip. And it was Puddefoot who eventually brought about my downfall.

I had just saved a great swerving shot of his, when he was back again, He rounded Pursell and let fly with terrific force. My feet got stuck in the mud – it had been raining nearly all the time – and I was powerless to save.

We beat West Ham in the replay at Liverpool by 5 goals to 1, and in the fourth round we also whacked Queens Park Rangers at Anfield.

Stolen stroll and a sequel
This brought s into the semi-final, in which we were drawn against Aston Villa, the Cupholders of the previous season. The match was to be played at Tottenham, and we went to Chingford, just outside London, for a three weeks’ preparation, and before going on to the match just let me relate an anecdote concerning our stay there which well illustrates the stringent manner in which the clubs on the other side of the Border prepare for the Cup-ties.

What started as a joke nearly ended in a tragedy in which I and a few others were suspended – for a night at least.

It happened this way. We were pretty well cooped up in the hotel we stayed at. Out training immediately after breakfast, back for lunch; out once more doing short sprints &c., back for tea; and after tea time we were supposed to remain in the hotel, and into bed by ten o’clock.

Those of you who have never undergone this sort of thing may reckon it a great picnic – nothing to do and the best of feeding. But to full-blooded young fellows the restrictions are irksome after a while, and many were the dodges tried to get a spell “off the chain.”

One night Bob Pursell and I determined to “get a breath of fresh air,” as we put it. It was only half-past eight in the evening, yet here we were “housed up” like confirmed invalids, house slippers on, and all that, supposedly waiting to be tucked in nice and comfy for the night.

Bareheaded and all was we were, we got round to the back door of the hostelry, to find the place locked up. We couldn’t get out by the front, for our trainer Bill Connell, was on guard in the hall like a faithful watchdog, and no doubt our manager, Tom Watson, would be lurking about there, too.

However, by bribing the billiard marker we got out through the back door eventually, and went for a walk in Epping Forest.

It was a breath of heaven to us this stolen stroll. We enjoyed it to the full, and timed ourselves to be back just about 10.30 p.m. It had been arranged that the billiard marker would be on duty at the back entrance to let us in.

But something went agley. When we came to the door it was shut. More, it was fastened. We knocked gently. No answer.

A little louder; still no answer. Again and again we knocked – not too loudly, so as not to draw the attention of the house – but all was as quiet as pussy.

Then the awful truth dawned on us. The marker had been caught helping us, and we would have to face the music by going round to the front entrance!

It was an appalling prospect, for we knew how strict Mr. Watson was on matters of training. With sinking hearts Bob and I went round to the front of the house, but there was a surprise awaited us. Who did we find standing bareheaded just outside the front door?

Next week Kenny tells you the result of this escapade and the suspensions that followed.
(The Weekly News: June 4, 1921)

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