1939 FA Cup Final (partially found footage of football match; 1939)

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Portsmouth players celebrating their FA Cup win.

Status: Partially Found

The 1939 FA Cup Final culminated the end of the 64th FA Cup season. Featuring Portsmouth facing and winning its first FA Cup against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Wembley Stadium in front of an audience of 99,370,[1] this marked the second instance the FA Cup was fully televised, and inevitably the last before the outbreak of the Second World War.


Both Portsmouth and Wolverhampton Wanderers, as First Division members, entered the tournament in the Third Round proper. Portsmouth defeated Lincoln City, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United, defending champions Preston North End, and Huddersfield Town to reach the Final. Meanwhile, Wolverhampton Wanderers' campaign consisted of it overcoming Bradford Park Avenue, Leicester City, Liverpool, Everton and Grimsby Town.[2] Prior to the Final, Portsmouth had never won the FA Cup,[3] whereas Wolverhampton Wanderers had won the trophy twice.[4] Wolves were also deemed the favourites for this encounter; aside from displaying a dominant FA Cup campaign, including beating Grimsby Town 5-0 in the Semi-Finals, the club had also challenged for the First Division title, finishing runners-up. In contrast, Portsmouth had battled relegation.[5]

Meanwhile, the BBC had successfully broadcast the 1938 FA Cup Final in full for its Television Service.[6] Once again it had received permission from the Football Association (FA) to televise the match, with the condition that there would be no rediffusion in terms of public entertainment. Wembley had also being modified so that it could hold another 7,000 fans, enough to theoretically hold 100,000.[7][8] Ultimately, the attendance was just shy of that by 630.

Despite Wolves being deemed the favourites, it was Portsmouth that controlled play, winning its first FA Cup with a 4-1 win. Herbert Barlow and John Anderson scored goals for the club in the first half. In the second, Henry Parker added two more, with the sole strike from Wolverhampton's Richard Dorsett occurring between them. Both clubs would again win the FA Cup, Portsmouth taking until 2008 to do so.[9] Pompey would also hold the dubious honour of holding the FA Cup trophy the longest uninterrupted at seven years. This was because of the outbreak of the Second World War, which suspended English football, and also caused the BBC to cease television transmissions.[10][11] The FA Cup would not be held until one year after the War, in 1946.


Like other early BBC television broadcasts, the 1939 FA Cup was broadcast live and was not recorded. Therefore, any televised footage of the event is now permanently missing. However, the match itself is not fully missing, with highlights from British Movietone and British Pathé still being publicly available.



Footage of the match from British Movietone.

Footage of the match from British Pathé.


See Also

Association Football/Soccer Media

Early BBC Sports Television

Early BBC Television

Early Sports Television Media