St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Soccer St George's Park - 1944 Air Force Cup Final
1944 Air Force Cup Final

The RAF brought quite a lot of excitement into Port Elizabeth on Saturday, September 23 1944, when the Air Force Football Association staged two matches.

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Eastern Province Herald - September 22, 1944
At 2.30pm 42 Air School of Port Elizabeth met 45 Air School of Oudtshoorn in the Air Force Cup final, and at 4.00pm Air Force (South Africa) met Air Force (Rhodesia).

Sportsmen in the city no doubt realised how fortunate they were to be able to witness two great games of that sort on one afternoon. It was anticipated that one of the largest crowds to ever witness soccer in the city was at the Crusader Grounds that Saturday.

The large crowd saw two splendid expositions of the dribbling code, for the four teams consisted of a great wealth of talent.

In fact there were times when we were reminded of the scenes preceding an English Cup Tie final at Wembley Stadium, especially when giants from Yorkshire and Lancashire were to fight out the last issue.

The only difference was that everyone found the ground at the Crusaders, whereas in London large numbers were always left, staggered by the speed of things, in the streets, cafes and other places where people congregate.

The Port Elizabeth team got to the final of the 36 team competition by beating Grahamstown, Driftsands, Port Alfred and Kimberley. The final was against Oudtshoorn.

In 1942 Waterkloof beat Youngsfield 2-1 after extra time, and in 1943 Waterkloof beat Nigel 2-0. In the 1944 contest, Waterkloof beat Lyttleton and Zwartkop, but were beaten in the third round by Voortrekkerhoogte who, in turn, were beaten by Oudtshoorn 5-1.

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45 Air School Supporters
On Saturday, despite the awful weather, the first great excitement was a band of Oudtshoorn boys, led by an exuberant man with a cornet, together with a rather unsteady pair of enthusiasts carrying a banner bearing the magic watchword of “45”, and people from Whites and Western Roads hotels, boarding houses and private residences turned out to watch them march by.

Following this came the local lads of “42”, Port Elizabeth’s own, and streams of other people, who made a record gate.

The teams were:

45 Air School: Hughes; Lyall and Kiddle; Gilbert, Louman and Mcdowell; Patterson, Carruthers, Jones, Wilicombe and Forbes.

42 Air School: Goalie - Corporal Pons; Corporal Cartwright and AC Bowen; Brown, WO Reece (captain), AC Mclachlan; LAC Jones, AC Tindle, AC Winters, Cpl Birch and AC Graham.

The referee was Lieutenant Miller, Royal Navy.

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45 Air School

Before the match started, the teams were presented to Air Commodore Chamberlayne.

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42 Air School
Back Row: LAC Jones, Cpl Birch, Cpl Pons, AC Bowen, AC McLachlan, AC Rooke.
Seated: AC Winters, AC Tindle, WO Reece, (captain), AC Graham, Cpl Cartwright.

Oudtshoorn were the first to become aggressive, and a minute after the kick-off, were swarming in 42 Air School’s area. Cartwright and Bowen were prominent in smothering attempts to shoot.

The invaders were driven back, and Reece, Brown and Winters came into the picture and gave Oudtshoorn defence plenty to do. Hughes was forced to concede a corner. Nothing happened and the crowd roared as the ball was taken from end to end in quick rapidity.

When Oudtshoorn attacked, Bowen was the hero of the defence, smothering and clearing time and again; and when Port Elizabeth swarmed into their opponents area, Lyall and Kiddle put a stopper to many dangerous rushes.

During one of Port Elizabeth’s attacks, Oudtshoorn’s defence had a particularly warm time. Birch, Jones, Graham and Winters each failed to find the opening, shooting either wide or over the top.

Then play swung back to the other end where Pons was called on successfully to save shots from Carruthers and Jones.

It was when 42 Air School attacked again that the side registered the first goal of the match amidst great enthusiasm, Jones doing the necessary with a magnificent shot from far out.

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A capacity crowd watched the Air Force Cup Final and South Africa vs Rhodesia soccer matches.

Before half-time arrived Port Elizabeth notched another goal from a melee in front of the goal mouth, when the ball rolled into the net, but this was disallowed by the referee for off-sides.

Play continued at a great pace in the second half and each side took every opportunity to beat the respective goalkeepers.

Oudtshoorn put in a number of hot attacks, but the splendid defence displayed by Bowen, Reece and Brown, who were particularly conspicuous, frustrated all attempts to get on even terms.

There was a time however, when Oudtshoorn faded away somewhat, and during this period Biren, Brown and Winters gave them many anxious moments when he put in two or three stinging shots.

Once Winters hit the upright with a lightning shot, and a little later he found the opening but was adjudged off-sides.

Towards the end Oudtshoorn rallied splendidly and 42 Air School supporters held their breath as they initiated a number of brilliant combined movements during which Jones, the Welsh international forward was conspicuous with good dribbling.

Port Elizabeth’s defence had plenty to do, but refused to be beaten.

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The Presentation of the Air Force Cup

Tremendous enthusiasm was displayed by the spectators throughout the game, and when the final whistle sounded proclaiming the local Air Force visitors as victors, pandemonium was let loose.

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Air Force (South Africa) vs Air Force (Rhodesia).

The fact that the tourists had won the first leg of the three “Tests” made the day’s game important, for a win for Rhodesia would have given them the rubber.

On the other hand, a win for South Africa would put them in the running for top honours. Under the circumstances, both teams were expected to go full out for victory.

The teams were:

Rhodesia: Bowman, McMillan (captain), and Gill; Jones, Bell and Fiddes; Fraser, Deverall, Lee, Litchfield and Williams.

South Africa: Pickerill; Ball (captain) and Craze; Robertson, Clark and Boyd; Falconer, Holman, Martin, Metcalf and Watson.

The referee was Sgt. Hanley of 44 Air School.

We happened to be between the fire. But did it matter? More events of this kind would give the town some sense of liveliness on Saturday afternoons.

And just a word for the RAF band from 42 Air School. They played right up to the occasion and maintained the traditions created by the posted Sergeant Thompson.

Overflow crowds were expected to watch the OK girls, members of the Merchant Navy and Cowies partake of a fancy dress football match at the Oval.

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