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Eighty teams entered this season's competition. The first round took place on the second Sunday of the season, August 15th, on a glorious hot and sunny morning. Forty-eight teams received byes leaving sixteen matches to be played. In the shock of the Round 3A's Real Cahoots inflicted a rare defeat on Bloomfield Vets when winning 6-1 at Commonedge. Elsewhere, 3A's the Duke of York held 2B promotion favourites Red Rose Catering in a 2-2 draw before losing 4-0 in the replay. All of the Premier Division sides and all but two of the teams in Division 1 received byes. The two Division One sides both progressed through to Round 2 following an 8-0 away win for Reform Health Club over 3A's PG FC and a 2-0 home win for the Sanctuary over 3A's Clifton Co-op. In one of the closest games of the Round Wyre Villa defeated Marton Institute 3-2 in the Division 2B clash.
In the above picture 3A's Little Fat Jacks take on 3B's Skye FC at Commonedge in Round 1. Skye played well in this game but eventually lost 4-2. Little Fat Jacks would go out in Round 2 after receiving a tough draw and losing 4-0 against Prem side Bloomfield WMC. However, they went on to reach the semi-finals of the Division 3 Cup and at the time of writing look good favourites for the Division 3A title.
Also from Round 1 the above picture shows the Sanctuary FC defending a Clifton Co-op free-kick at Commonedge Road. Sanctuary won the game 2-0. In Round 2 they went on to knock out Premier Division side Kingsfield 3-0 before eventually going out in Round 3 to 2B highflyers, the Ship, Fleetwood.
Round 2 took place on September 5th. All the big guns from the Premier Division joined the competition to make up the final sixty-four teams. The major shock of this round was when last season's winners and Premier Division Champions, Wyre Waste, were knocked out by 2B's Red Rose Catering at Thornton. The 2003/04 runners up, McDonald Property FC, went on much better winning 7-3 at home to fellow Division 1 side West Coast Tackle Postal FC. The Shovel's good start to the season was halted when the 3B outfit were beaten 10-1 by 2B's the Ship. The Reform Health Club of Division 1 upset the form book when beating Prem side Clarence 4-1 at Squires Gate. In an all Premier Division affair the Golden Eagle beat Bispham Juniors 3-2. The scoreline would be later repeated in the semi-final of the Division 1 Cup. Elsewhere Fleetwood Town had a tricky looking tie against Sands but went through with a 2-0 win.
The above picture was taken up at Thornton and featured the Round 2 game between 2B's the Gardeners Arms and 2A's The Dunes FC. Dunes player manager Jimmy Drinkwater leaps highest for the ball. Both teams would go on to have mixed fortunes. The Gardeners lost the game 5-2 and failed to finish the season whilst after a slow start the Dunes would go on to put in a great challenge for the 2A title as well as reaching the final of the Division 2 Cup. After a 4-3 away win over Division 1's Singleton Village in Round 3 and a fantastic 5-3 away win over Prem side Bloomfield WMC the Dunes were finally knocked out of the Gledhill in the quarter-finals by eventual finalists Poulton of the Premier Division.
Also winners in Round 2 were Dudley Industries FC of 2B. They overcame 3A's Wrea Green 4-3 at Commonedge Road. In the above photo a Wrea Green player finds himself in trouble with the referee Dale Harvey. Dudley Industries then drew McDonald Property in Round 3 and went out after a good display when losing 3-1.
Round 3 of this season's competition took place on October 10th with thirty-two teams left in. There were a few more surprises in this Round as teams knocked out sides from higher Divisions. Layton Institute of Division 1 thrashed the Golden Eagle 5-0, 2B's Gasworkers beat the Highlands of Division 1 4-0, The Ship of 2B beat the Sanctuary of Division 1 2-1 and Clifton Rangers of 2A pulled off a great result against Division 1's Argosy Sports & Social Club when winning 3-1. Real Cahoots of 3A upset higher league opposition once again and pulled off probably the result of the Round with a 6-1 demolition of Division 1 side the Squirrel. In the best game of the Round CLS Wyre took on fellow 2B side Red Rose Catering at Thornton Sports Centre. The first game finished 3-3 and in the replay a week later Red Rose finally scraped through to Round 4 following a dramatic 5-4 victory.
In the above picture from Round 3 Highfield Social (White and Green) of the Premier Division had to work hard to finally overcome a battling Pearson Estates FC from Division 2B. A late goal giving the Prem side a 2-0 win. Highfield Social making it through to Round 4 where they were surprisingly beaten by 2B side the Ship, Fleetwood.
Most of the Round 4 games took place on November 7th but we had to wait for November 21st for the tie of the Round when the Premier Division giants Fleetwood Town and Quilligans met at Highbury Avenue. Quilligans came away with a brilliant 2-0 victory and went through to the Quarter-Finals without conceding a goal in the competition. Elsewhere, besides that great win by the Ship over Highfield Social and the Dunes win over the Bloomfield another Premier Division side in the shape of St Annes Ex Service also lost to lower league opposition when losing 3-2 to 2B's the Gasworkers. In another surprise Clifton Rangers of Division 2A were heavily beaten 9-2 by 2B team Red Rose Catering. If you were looking for excitement and entertainment then the match between Division 1 sides Reform Health Club and McDonald Property FC was the one to watch. The teams drew 1-1 at Squires Gate and in the replay a week later it took a penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw to finally separate the sides with Reform eventually putting out last season's losing finalists.
In Round 4 I went to Commonedge looking for a potential upset but picked the wrong match. 3A's Real Cahoots had been in good league form and had enjoyed some good results over higher league opposition in the earlier Rounds so I quite fancied them against Prem side Poulton SFC but it wasn't to be. Despite a bright start the 3A side just couldn't score when they really needed to take the lead to have a chance. Poulton finally got into their groove and eventually ran out comfortable 4-0 winners. In the above picture Poulton's Danny Porter has a chat with Cahoot's striker Craig Byrom.
The four Quarter-Finals took place shortly before Christmas on December 12th. As with last season two of the games took place up at Broadwaters where 2B side the Ship took on Premier Division side Quilligans and the Gasworkers Club of 2B played host to Division 1's the Reform Health Club. The Ship played great in the first half and surprised Quilligans with their good football and commitment. The teams went in at half time with the score level at 1-1. However, Quilligans scored two early goals in the second half from which the Ship never really recovered, Quilligans going on to win 6-2. An equally close first half took place in the Gasworkers v Reform game where it was still scoreless after 45 minutes. In the second half Reform finally broke down the Gasworkers' resistance and opened up a 2-0 lead before a late consolation penalty for the Fleetwood outfit made the final score 2-1. It was very good performance from Reform that put them through to the semi-finals.
In the other two games Red Rose Catering of 2B eliminated Castle Gardens of Division 1 following a narrow 1-0 win and Poulton of the Prem finally ended the interest of 2A's the Dunes FC with a comprehensive 3-1 victory.
Referee Tony Zak gets the Ship wall back ten yards in their game against Quilligans.
Reform Health Club's Scott Waters (Right) and Michael Kennerley celebrate their team's Quarter-Final victory over the Gasworkers.
The draw for the Semi-Finals saw Quilligans up against the Reform Health Club at Squires Gate and outsiders Red Rose Catering against Poulton on Blackpool Mechanics. The Red Rose fixture took place on February 20th. The 2B side started very confidently and took the lead after only five minutes through Darren Hall. Poulton equalised through a penalty from Fegan and further goals from Ben Hopes and Danny Morris made it 3-1 at half time. Red Rose needed to start the second half as they'd done the first but unfortunately conceded an ealy headed goal to Danny Porter. This all but ended the match and the Premier Division finally ended Red Rose Catering's Cup run with a 5-1 win. A creditable and memorable Gledhill effort from the 2B team but we didn't see the best of them in that semi-final.
A week later The Reform Health Club took on Quilligans. The Prem side having no problem with playing the important game at Reform's home ground of Squires Gate. It was a game for the purist, more like a chess match than a football game. In a half of few chances Quilligan's Simon Garrick finally opened up the scoring with a deflected long range effort not long before half time. The second half saw no real change in tactics for either side and despite Reform giving 100% they finally fell to a late goal from Stuart Diggle making the final score 2-0. A great Cup run for the Division 1 side but it was Quilligans who made it through to their tenth Gledhill Final.
Red Rose Catering FC of 2B (Blue) in semi final action against SFC Poulton.
Poulton's left midfielder Ben Hopes who scored the goal of the game in the semi-final against Red Rose.
Reform Health Club keeper Dave Stevenson dominant for the high ball.
Quilligan's centre halves Dave Butler (Left) and Simon Garrick.
It's fair to say that Quilligans are favourites for the final but Poulton are well capable of winning the game. Quilligans won the first league game 3-0 but in the reverse fixture the teams were involved in a 4-3 thriller with Quilligans ending up completing a league double.
Poulton SFC's road to the Final ;
15/08/04 – Round 1 – Exempt
05/09/04 – Round 2 – Poulton 5 – 2 Chequers (2A)
10/10/04 – Round 3 – Bloomfield Hotel (2B) 1 – 4 Poulton
07/11/04 – Round 4 – Real Cahoots (3A) 0 – 4 Poulton
12/12/04 – Q-Finals – Poulton 3 – 1 The Dunes (2A)