The 1905/06 season was the first season in which South Kirkby entered the now world famous, Football Association Cup (FA Cup). The season’s journey began in the First Qualifying Round with a trip to Rotherham Main. The Main team were one of three major footballing powers in the town of Rotherham at the time, but the lesser of the three. They had that season joined the Sheffield Association League, moving from the Hatchard League (which they had won in the 1903/04 season). In the first meeting between the sides, at Rotherham, Oakes scored twice for South Kirkby but Main were not to be beaten and managed to salvage a 2 – 2 draw. In the replay, at South Kirkby, the game was much more cut and dry, with the Kirkbyites hammering Rotherham Main 4 – 0.
The Second Qualifying Round draw saw South Kirkby drawn against Rotherham County, at The Red House Ground. However the venue was switched to South Kirkby when The Red House Ground (pictured below) was deemed to not conform to FA Cup requirements. Curiously, in the First Qualifying Round The Red House Ground was used for the County’s clash with Thorpe Hesley, who had also appealed that the ground was too small, but the appeal was lodged too late and the match went ahead. The switch of venue obviously upset the form of Midland League club, County, as South Kirkby raced to a two goal lead, with Straw scoring first and Oakes adding a second. County pulled a late goal back but South Kirkby held on for a famous 2 – 1 win. Incidentally, Rotherham County later went on to join the Football League, after the First World War.
Incredibly the Third Qualifying Round saw South Kirkby drawn against the third Rotherham club, Rotherham Town. Interestingly Rotherham Town had actually initially lost their Second Qualifying Round tie, to Worksop, but it emerged that Worksop had fielded two players who were ineligible and the two sides were ordered to replay the match, at the neutral venue of Bramall Lane. Rotherham Town won. The Town side, who like County were also members of the Midland League, must have fancied their chances at the Clifton Road Ground against the colliery men from South Kirkby. So sure were Town of a cup run that a wealthy donor had funded the building of a press box at The Clifton Road Ground, used for the first time in the meeting of the two. The game ended a spirited 2 – 2 draw, with South Kirkby falling two goals behind and requiring a mammoth effort to complete the comeback, with goals from Straw and Layton. It seems that Town were not happy with the idea of heading to South Kirkby in the replay, and they appealed to the Kirkby officials to switch the venue to The Clifton Road Ground, naturally South Kirkby refused. In the replay over 1,000 fans packed into the ground to see South Kirkby triumph, with Cutts tapping home the winning goal from rebound of his own saved penalty. As a side note, in 1925 Rotherham County and Rotherham Town merged to form what is now Rotherham United.
The Fourth Qualifying Round (or Intermediate Round as it was commonly then known) saw South Kirkby drawn against then two time FA Amateur Cup winners, Bishop Aukland. The County Durham team were members of the Northern League and had won their league on a number of occasions, and it was a big draw for the people of South Kirkby who flocked north to see the match. So big was the demand that special train services were laid on for South Kirkby fans travelling from nearby Moorthorpe station to Durham. The game proved to be an epic tussle, with both sides keen to attack at every opportunity. The furious play led to both teams being awarded penalties, which both teams duly missed! Despite spirited efforts from South Kirkby, Bishop Aukland scored a late heart-breaking goal to win 1 – 0. Bishop Aukland went on to lose to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the next round (the First Round Proper).
In the 1906/07 season old enemies South Kirkby and Rotherham County were once again drawn against one another, though this time in the Preliminary Round. As in the previous season the The Red House was deemed too small for an FA Cup tie and County were forced to give up home advantage and switch the tie to the grander South Kirkby ground. The game was end to end from kick off, with ex County man Milton playing especially well for South Kirkby. Amusingly, before a goal was registered a fierce tackle by a South Kirkby player saw the ball smash through the roof of the new cricket pavilion, taking with it a number of panes of glass! South Kirkby were the first team to register a goal, with Dockerty scoring from a penalty kick. The lead was short lived, with County levelling the game up within just four minutes of South Kirkby taking the lead, before racing to a 3 – 1 half time lead. South Kirkby pressed for a goal after the half-time break, but found themselves falling 4 – 1 behind, forcing them to attack at all costs. Dockerty pulled one back for the home side but to no avail. The game ended 2 – 4 to County, with over 2,000 livid spectators witnessing South Kirkby unceremoniously dumped out of the competition, at the Preliminary stage. It was sweet revenge for County, who went on to a lucrative Fifth Qualifying Round tie with Crystal Palace, knocking out local rivals Rotherham Town along the way. Crystal Palace were eventual Quarter Finalists (then known as the Fourth Round Proper).
The 1907/08 FA Cup journey began for South Kirkby with a home tie versus Darfield United, in the Preliminary Round. Unlike the previous season the Kirkbyites did not suffer the embarrassment of a Preliminary Round exit, comfortably beating the Darfield men 6 – 1.
In the First Qualifying Round South Kirkby were again drawn at home, this time against Mexborough Town. The game was much more one sided than the final 1 – 0 score-line would suggest, with South Kirkby winning the game via a fierce shot by Burton, which dropped under the bar. The Mexborough side were no strangers to a good standard of football, being then members of the Midland League. They eventually changed their name to Mexborough Athletic, won the Midland League and folded.
In the Second Qualifying Round South Kirkby were drawn away against familiar foes Rotherham Town, who they had defeated in the Third Qualifying Round in the 1905/06 season. The game, watched by over 4,000 fans packed into The Clifton Road Ground, was very one sided, with Town winning 3 – 0. The best that South Kirkby could muster was a shot against the post by Biggins. Rotherham Town would eventually get beaten by West Ham United in the First Round Proper, having eliminated Crewe Alexandra along the way.
Any dreams of an FA Cup run for South Kirkby in the 1908/09 season were dashed early, with the Kirkbyites being drawn against Second Division Bradford (now Bradford Park Avenue) in the First Qualifying Round. South Kirkby were drawn at home but the tie was switched to the Park Avenue stadium (pictured above), where 6,000 fans eagerly watched. For years Bradford had played all codes of football (union, league and association) and amassed a vast collection of silverware in doing so, but in 1907 they had decided to form an association football club proper, and they joined the Football League in 1908. Due to this peculiarity the game against South Kirkby was their first official FA Cup game, though this did not mean that they were novices! As if South Kirkby were not up against it already, the Bradford side leapt into a lead but South Kirkby rallied and courageously found themselves level at 1 – 1, Owens the scorer. However, by half-time Bradford had opened up a 3 – 1 lead and in the second half they put on an exhibition for their happy fans, hammering South Kirkby 8 – 1. Despite picking their way through the rounds Bradford embarrassingly came unstuck against minnows Croydon Common, in the Fifth Qualifying Round. Croydon Common held Arsenal to a draw in the following First Round Proper, losing in the replay.
After the poor luck of being drawn against a mighty Second Division team in the First Qualifying round of the previous season, South Kirkby were this time given a much easier draw, to begin their FA Cup campaign. In the First Qualifying Round the club were drawn away to Stourton United, who were making their debut in the competition. Despite being the less experienced team Stourton took the lead in the early stages of the game but South Kirkby rallied, and fine work by Geary on the right wing led to Edwards scoring the equaliser before half time. The game ended in a 1 – 1 stalemate. In the replay South Kirkby emphasised their superior status by hammering Stourton 5 – 0.
In the Second Qualifying Round the club met Clayton West, at Clayton, and carried over their free scoring form from the previous round. Ten minutes into the match Malloch opened the scoring for South Kirkby, followed by a fifteen yard, left foot thunderbolt by Edwards. Malloch added a third for South Kirkby before Crapper missed a penalty, which should have put the tie to bed. It mattered little though, as South Kirkby eased to a 1 – 5 win.
In the next round the club were drawn away to a new football club, Huddersfield Town. Huddersfield had only been founded a year prior, and their Leeds Road ground was very basic, but they routed South Kirkby 5 – 2. History, of course, teaches us that within 12 months of this meeting of the sides Huddersfield had applied to join the Football League and brought in the iconic architect Archibold Leitch to rebuild Leeds Road. Ironically an old rival of South Kirkby’s, Rotherham Town, proved to be the undoing of Huddersfield, defeating the West Yorkshire side in a Fourth Qualifying Round replay.