Tom Farquharson

Last updated

Tom Farquharson
Tom Farquharson 1925.png
Personal information
Full name Thomas Gerard Farquharson [1]
Date of birth(1899-12-04)4 December 1899
Place of birth Dublin, Ireland
Date of death 24 December 1970(1970-12-24) (aged 71)
Place of death Canada
Height 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in) [1]
Position(s) Goalkeeper
Youth career
1916–1919 Annually
1919–1920 CYMS
Senior career*
1921 Oakdale
1921–1922 Abertillery Town
1922–1935 Cardiff City 445 (0)
International career
1923–1925 Ireland 7 (0)
1929–1931 Irish Free State 4 (0)
1931 Welsh League XI 1 (0)
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Thomas Gerard Farquharson (4 December 1899 – 24 December 1970) was an Irish professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper. Born in Dublin, he played youth football for local sides. In his teens, he became a member of the Irish Republican Army and was arrested by the British Army for removing wanted posters and held in Mountjoy Prison. He was released on the basis that he would leave Ireland, which he did, choosing to settle in South Wales.


Farquharson played football for Oakdale and Abertillery Town before being spotted by Football League side Cardiff City in 1922 for whom he made his professional debut that May. He helped the side finish as runners-up in the First Division during the 1923–24 season and reach the 1925 FA Cup final. In 1927, he was a member of the Cardiff City team that became the only non-English side to win the FA Cup. He remained with the club until 1935, winning the Welsh Cup on four occasions and the FA Charity Shield once. Farquharson played in 445 Football League matches for Cardiff, which remained a club record until 1985.

A dual internationalist, he also played for both Ireland teams – the Irish Free State national football team and the Ireland national football team (IFA). After making his debut for the IFA side in 1923, he went on to win seven caps. In 1931, he caused controversy by rejecting a call up to instead play for the Irish Free State side with whom he won a further four caps.

Early life

Farquharson was born on 4 December 1899 at 3 Lismore Cottages, Botanic Avenue, Dublin. He was the third child born to a Presbyterian father, Thomas Farquharson, a sanitary contractor, and a Catholic mother, Margaret Cassin, a dressmaker. [2] [3] Both of his parents hailed from Dublin and earned enough income to afford a live-in servant. Raised as a Catholic, [4] he was brought up in the football heartland of Drumcondra at the family home in Golden Acre. [4] [5] The family later moved to Jones Road and his father became a reputable master builder and contractor in the area. Tom was educated at a school run by the Congregation of Christian Brothers. [4]

Club career

Early career

As a youth, Farquharson played Gaelic football before taking up association football with Annually in 1916. He helped the side reach the final of the Leinster Minor Cup, held at Shelbourne Park, where they defeated Olympic B 4–2. Annually folded in 1919 after being unable to secure suitable playing grounds. Farquharson instead began playing for a Catholic Young Men's Society (CYMS). However, he eventually left Dublin because of his Republican sympathies during the Irish War of Independence. He was described as a "non-violent member" of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), a role that included running messages for the group and transporting people to safehouses. [6] [7]

A 19-year-old student at the time, [8] he was arrested along with his friend Seán Lemass, later to become Taoiseach, for pulling down British Army wanted posters in St Stephen's Green. [4] This proved embarrassing to Farquharson's father, who conducted business with the British. Farquharson and Lemass were held at Mountjoy Prison but Farquharson was released on bail by a British Army Major who was a friend of his father on the basis that he would leave Ireland. [6] [7]

He was sent to work in Blackwood, Caerphilly, in South Wales, gaining employment as either a carpenter or a painter and decorater. On arriving in Wales, he took up rugby union, playing as a full back for his local side Blackwood. [6] He later went to watch local Welsh Football League side Oakdale who found themselves short of a goalkeeper for a match. [1] [9] Farquharson offered his services where his experience playing Gaelic football proved invaluable. [6] He then moved onto Southern Football League side Abertillery Town for the 1921–22 season. [4] His performances for the side saw him chosen to represent a Welsh Southern Football League XI. [1]

Cardiff City

Farquharson soon attracted the interest of Football League First Division side Cardiff City. His performances for Abertillery led to him being invited to a trial with Cardiff by club founder Walter Bartley Wilson in February 1922 before signing permanently. [4] He made his debut for the club on the last day of the 1921–22 season, playing in a 3–1 victory over Manchester United on 6 May 1922. [10] The following season, Ben Davies remained first choice at the start of the campaign before Farquharson featured in five consecutive matches between October and November 1922. The pair continued to compete throughout the season with Farquharson featuring in 21 league matches (one more than Davies) and playing in the club's 3–2 victory over Aberdare Athletic in the 1923 Welsh Cup final. [10] His performances resulted in Davies' being sold at the end of the season to Leicester City with long-serving Herbert Kneeshaw remaining as cover. [4]

Farquharson in goal is a football education. He satisfies the real test of the expert – everything he does seems ridiculously easy.

Hugh Brett of the Irish Independent in an article prior to the 1925 FA Cup final [4]

Having established himself as first choice, Farquharson featured 51 times during the 1923–24 season, missed only three matches during the campaign, featuring in all six of the club's FA Cup and Welsh Cup ties. [10] Cardiff finished second in the First Division, losing out on winning the league title to Huddersfield Town on goal average. [11] In the following campaign, Farquharson helped the side reach their first FA Cup final where they suffered a 1–0 defeat to Sheffield United. [10] With the retirement of Kneeshaw, Farquharson saw off competition from Joe Hills and Tommy Hampson to continue his spell as first choice goalkeeper. [4]

During the 1926–27 season, the club embarked on another FA Cup campaign to reach their second final in three seasons. He played in all six of Cardiff's fixtures leading up to the final. [4] In his career, Farquharson had developed a reputation as a penalty specialist, even being dubbed "the penalty king". [4] [12] His method of saving spot kicks by rushing forward as the penalty was being taken proved so effective that in the quarterfinal of the FA Cup, his save to deny Chelsea forward Andrew Wilson's penalty prompted the sport's governing bodies to change the rules of the game. Goalkeepers were subsequently banned from rushing from their goal line when facing penalty kicks. [4] [6] Wilson later described the incident, remarking "I thought I was seeing things when I looked at Tom Farquharson in the Cardiff goal. As I placed the ball, he was standing with his back against the net [...] I shot and he dashed forward and made a wonder save." [13] Farquharson explained the reasoning behind his technique, stating "By advancing forward I can leap to either side far more quickly than from a standing position." [13]

In the final of the competition, Cardiff defeated Arsenal 1–0 at Wembley Stadium, becoming the only non-English side to have won the FA Cup. [14] Farquharson kept five clean sheets from Cardiff's seven matches in the competition, conceding only three goals, [10] becoming the first Irish goalkeeper to win the cup and keep a clean sheet in the final of the competition. [7] At the end of the game, Farquharson acquired the match ball which he later donated to the church. [15] The side returned to Cardiff following their victory where they were received by an estimated crowd of 150,000 people lining the streets to witness their return. [4]

Farquharson remained as the club's first choice goalkeeper for several years after their cup success. However, economic troubles saw a steady decline for Cardiff and, in 1929, they were relegated from the First Division two years after winning the FA Cup. Their troubles continued as they were relegated to the Third Division South for the first time in their history soon after. [10] In 1932, he nearly left the financially stricken club to join Hull City after a transfer offer was accepted. Cardiff planned to replace him with backup goalkeeper Len Evans, only for Evans to leave himself before the deal was completed. A board meeting was hastily arranged during which Farquharson agreed to remain with Cardiff, [16] where he played for a further three years before retiring in 1935. [4] In his book, The Who's Who of Cardiff City, Dean Hayes describes Farquharson as "without doubt [...] the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the club." [9] He played in 445 matches in the Football League, a club record which stood until 1985 when it was surpassed by Phil Dwyer. [17] His total remains the highest by any goalkeeper in the club's history. [18]

International career

When Farquharson began his international career in 1923 there were, in effect, two Ireland teams, chosen by two rival associations. Both associations, the Northern Ireland – based Irish Football Association (IFA) and the Irish Free State – based Football Association of the Irish Free State (FAIFS) claimed jurisdiction over the whole of Ireland and selected players from the whole island. As a result, several notable Irish players from this era, including Farquharson, played for both teams. [4]

Between 1923 and 1927 Farquharson played seven times for the IFA XI. He made his debut for the IFA XI on 3 March 1923 in a 1–0 defeat to Scotland. [1] On 10 October 1923, Farquharson was a member the IFA XI that beat England 2–1 at Windsor Park. He made his last appearance for the IFA XI on 28 February 1925 in a 3–0 defeat to Scotland. His appearances for the side were limited due to the presence of Elisha Scott. [1]

Irish Free State side

Between 1929 and 1931 Farquharson also played four times for the FAIFS XI. He had made his debut for an FAIFS XI shortly after winning the 1927 FA Cup with Cardiff, playing in a charity match against a Leinster Football Association XI. The match was regarded as unofficial, which meant the players were not awarded caps. [4] He made his competitive debut for the side on 20 April 1929 in a 4–0 win against Belgium at Dalymount Park. [4] On 11 May 1930 he won his second cap for the FAI XI when he played against Belgium again, helping his side to a 3–1 away win. [1]

In April 1931, this situation saw Farquharson briefly embroiled in controversy when he was called up by the IFA to play against Wales but opted instead to play for the FAI XI against Spain. [4] His comments made in a newspaper interview after his decision proved controversial when he claimed that "I will go so far as to say that the Irish Football Association usurped the name of Ireland by calling the side they have selected "Ireland"". [4] His decision and comments saw him honoured with an award at a special presentation by the FAIFS. Soon after, he also appeared for a Welsh League XI against their counterparts from the Irish Free State at Dalymount Park, suffering a 3–1 defeat. [4]

The highlight of his appearances for the FAI XI came on 26 April 1931 when he helped them hold Spain to 1–1 draw in the Montjuic Stadium in Barcelona. Farquharson was team captain and after conceding a penalty, he redeemed himself by saving the resulting spot kick. He made his final appearance for the FAI XI on 13 December 1931 in a 5–0 defeat to Spain at Dalymount Park. [1]

Personal life

After moving to Wales, Farquharson joined the order of the Benedictines. [4] His wife Pearl hailed from Skerries in Dublin and the pair had five children together, three girls and two boys. Farquharson was believed to have carried a handgun in his kitbag during his playing career "for protection" following his involvement with the IRA in his youth. [6] Several former teammates of his verified the fact and several claimed to have seen the weapon; [6] [7] Ernie Curtis stated in an interview "Tom told me about being on the move from house to house – and that he always carried a gun. He opened up his kit bag and there it was!" [19] Eddie Jenkins also recalled an incident when Farquharson was annoyed by teammate George Russell, who he believed was showing off, and produced the weapon before he tongue-in-cheek "threatened to shoot him if he didn't behave". [20]

Farquharson and his family lived on Allensbank Road in Heath, Cardiff, before later moving to Cyncoed in the northern part of the city. Following his retirement from football, Farquharson returned to his work as a painter and decorator. [9] He later opened a tobacconist's in Cardiff City Centre. In July 1948, Farquharson was convicted of illegal distribution of Irish sweepstakes tickets and was fined £250. [21] He ran his shop until he and his wife decided to emigrate to Canada; all five of his children had emigrated there in previous years. [22] His daughter Pam later described her father as "a very passive, quiet and private man." [22]

Farquharson's son Donald Farquharson was also an accomplished sportsman. He was an early pioneer of masters athletics and founded the Canadian Masters Athletics Association. [23] His great-grandson Steve Farquharson was drafted to the Ontario Hockey League in the 3rd round (58th overall) to the Toronto St. Michael's Majors where he played two seasons before playing one season with the Barrie Colts. He later became a scout for the Colts. [24]

Farquharson died of a heart attack on 24 December 1970. [22]

Career statistics

ClubSeasonLeagueFA CupOther [nb 1] Total
Cardiff City 1921–22 [25] First Division 10000010
1922–23 [26] First Division 2101020240
1923–24 [27] First Division 3906060510
1924–25 [28] First Division 3708010460
1925–26 [29] First Division 3300010340
1926–27 [30] First Division 4007040510
1927–28 [31] First Division 3703050450
1928–29 [32] First Division 3500040390
1929–30 [33] Second Division 3902040450
1930–31 [34] Second Division 3902040450
1931–32 [35] Third Division South 3803020430
1932–33 [36] Third Division South 3802030430
1933–34 [37] Third Division South 3400030370
1934–35 [38] Third Division South 1400000140
  1. Includes other competitive competitions, including the FA Charity Shield, Welsh Cup and Football League Third Division South Cup.


Cardiff City [9]

FA Cup

FA Charity Shield

Welsh Cup

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fred Keenor</span> Welsh footballer and manager

Frederick Charles Keenor was a Welsh professional footballer. He began his career at his hometown side Cardiff City after impressing the club's coaching staff in a trial match in 1912 organised by his former schoolteacher. A hard tackling defender, he appeared sporadically for the team in the Southern Football League before his spell at the club was interrupted by the outbreak of the First World War. Keenor served in the 17th (Service) Battalion, Middlesex Regiment, led by Major Frank Buckley, which became known as the Football Battalion. He fought in the Battle of the Somme, suffering a severe shrapnel wound to his thigh in 1916. He returned to Britain and after a lengthy rehabilitation he ended the war as a physical training instructor, reaching the rank of sergeant. He also appeared as a guest player for Brentford during the war.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cardiff City F.C.</span> Association football club in Cardiff, Wales

Cardiff City Football Club is a professional association football club based in Cardiff, Wales. It competes in the Championship, the second tier of the English football league system. Founded in 1899 as Riverside A.F.C., the club changed its name to Cardiff City in 1908 and entered the Southern Football League in 1910 before joining the English Football League in 1920. The team has spent 17 seasons in the top tier of English football, the longest period being between 1921 and 1929. Their most recent season in the top flight was the 2018–19 Premier League season.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1927 FA Cup final</span> English football championship

The 1927 FA Cup final was an association football match between Cardiff City and Arsenal on 23 April 1927 at the Empire Stadium. The final was the showpiece match of English football's primary cup competition, the Football Association Challenge Cup, organised by the Football Association. Cardiff, one of the few Welsh teams taking part, won the match 1–0. Their victory remains the only occasion the trophy, which was previously widely referred to as the "English Cup", has been won by a team based outside England.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Len Davies</span> Welsh footballer

Leonard Stephen Davies was a Welsh professional footballer. Born in Cardiff, he trained as a marine engineer before becoming a footballer, making his senior debut for his hometown club Cardiff City in 1919 in the Southern Football League. Cardiff joined the Football League the following year but Davies remained a reserve until establishing himself in the first team in late 1922. He scored Cardiff's first hat-trick in the Football League in January 1922 and was the club's top scorer in all competitions during the campaign.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jimmy Nelson (footballer)</span> Scottish footballer

James Nelson was a Scottish professional footballer who played as a full-back. He moved to Ireland as a child where he began his senior career with Irish Intermediate League side Crusaders. He spent two seasons with the team before joining Football League First Division side Cardiff City in 1921. After two seasons as a reserve, he became established in the first team and went on to make more than 250 appearances in all competitions. He helped the club reach two FA Cup finals, losing the first in 1925 before Cardiff became the first team from outside England to win the competition in 1927. He also won the 1927 FA Charity Shield and the Welsh Cup on four occasions with Cardiff.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Billy Hardy (footballer)</span> English footballer and manager

William Hardy was an English professional footballer who played as a half back. He began his career with his hometown side Bedlington United before moving to Scotland where he made his professional debut with Heart of Midlothian in 1910 at the age of 18. He remained with the side for a year, making sporadic appearances, before joining Football League Second Division side Stockport County. However, he made only one appearance for the first team.

Thomas Houston Watson was an Irish professional footballer. He began his career with Irish Intermediate League side Crusaders as a half back before joining Cardiff City in 1925 where he converted to defence. He became a regular first team player during his debut season in the Football League and later played in the 1927 FA Cup Final, helping the side become the only team from outside England to win the competition.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fred Stewart (football manager)</span> English football manager

Frederick Stewart was an English football manager. He took up his first managerial role in 1896 with Lancashire League side Stockport County and led them to their first title in 1900. Their success saw them elected to the Second Division of the Football League. The club struggled initially and, after being forced to seek re-election on several occasions, Stewart was replaced by Sam Ormerod. However, Ormerod also struggled and Stewart was reinstated a year later.

The 1926–27 season was the 26th season of competitive football played by Cardiff City F.C. and the team's sixth consecutive season in the First Division of the Football League. Having finished 16th the previous season, Fred Stewart made reshaped his squad but endured a slow start to the campaign. However, led by the goals of top scorer Hughie Ferguson, the club eased away from the relegation zone after the midway point of the campaign and finished in 14th position.

Sidney John Vivian Leonard Evans was a Welsh professional footballer who played in the Football League for Aberdare Athletic, Merthyr Town, Cardiff City and Birmingham, and won four caps for the Wales national football team. He played as a goalkeeper. Before he turned professional he was capped a number of times for the Welsh Amateur XI.

The 1923–24 season was the 23rd season of competitive football played by Cardiff City F.C. and the team's third consecutive season in the First Division of the Football League. Cardiff had been promoted to the First Division in the 1920–21 season after finishing as runners-up in the Second Division.

Cardiff City Football Club is a professional association football team based in Cardiff, Wales. The history of Cardiff City F.C. from 1899 to 1962 covers the club's founding, its move into the Southern Football League and its election to the Football League to the end of the 1961–62 season.

The 1921–22 season was the 21st season of competitive football played by Cardiff City F.C. and the team's first in the First Division of The Football League. Cardiff had won promotion the previous season by finishing as runners-up in the Second Division, becoming the first Welsh team to reach the top tier of English football.

Cardiff City F.C. played the 1922–23 season in the First Division. The campaign was the 22nd season of competitive football played by Cardiff City F.C. and its second consecutive season in the top tier of The Football League. Cardiff had won promotion to the top tier of English football in 1920–21 by finishing as runners-up in the Second Division, becoming the first Welsh team to reach the top tier of English football.

The 1924–25 season was the 24th season of competitive football played by Cardiff City F.C. and the team's fourth consecutive season in the First Division of the Football League. During the previous campaign the club had finished as runners up in the First Division, losing the title on the final day of the season via goal average. However, they were unable to repeat their form and endured a disappointing season, finishing in 11th place.

The 1927–28 season was the 27th season of competitive football played by Cardiff City F.C. and the team's seventh consecutive season in the First Division of the Football League. The team were reigning holders of the FA Cup starting the campaign, having won the previous year's final. As a result, there were few significant changes in the playing squad from the previous season, with the club choosing to invest funds in their home ground Ninian Park. Despite being one of the lowest scoring sides in the league, Cardiff finished sixth in the First Division and were considered title contenders until late into the campaign when they suffered a poor run of form.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Tom Farquharson". Northern Ireland's Footballing Greats. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  2. "General Registrar's Office" (PDF). Retrieved 4 December 2016.
  3. "Marriage of Thomas Farguharson and Margaret Cassin" (PDF). Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 Toms, David (6 February 2014). "'Darling of the Gods' Tom Farquharson, Irish footballing migrant". Soccer & Society. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  5. "Residents of a house 4 in Golden Acre (Drumcondra, Dublin)". Irish Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Healy, Barry (24 January 2015). "The IRA, Sean Lemass & The FA Cup: The Story of Tom Farquharson". Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  7. 1 2 3 4 McCarry, Patrick (12 April 2014). "The first Irish goalkeeper to win the FA Cup, his friendship with Seán Lemass and IRA past". Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  8. Shepherd, Richard (2007). The Cardiff City Miscellany. Sussex: Pitch Publishing. p. 92. ISBN   978-1-905411-04-7.
  9. 1 2 3 4 Hayes, Dean (2006). The Who's Who of Cardiff City. Derby: Breedon Books. p. 61. ISBN   1-85983-462-0.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Shepherd, Richard (2002). The Definitive: Cardiff City F.C. Nottingham: SoccerData Publications. pp. 23–36. ISBN   1-899-46817-X.
  11. "Looking back to 1924: Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town were Britain's best". WalesOnline. Media Wales. 8 February 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  12. Carbis, Ian (1 June 2015). "As David Marshall emerges as possible Liverpool FC target, where does he rank among Cardiff City's greatest goalies?". WalesOnline. Media Wales. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  13. 1 2 Lloyd, Grahame (1999). C'mon City! A Hundred Years of the Bluebirds. Seren. p. 87. ISBN   1854112716.
  14. Shepherd, Richard. "1920–1947 Great Days, Lows & Recovery". Cardiff City F.C. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  15. "Ball from Cardiff's 1927 Cup victory found on wardrobe". WalesOnline. Media Wales. 17 May 2008. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  16. "Farquharson To Stay" . Western Mail. 22 November 1932. Retrieved 12 March 2019 via British Newspaper Archive.
  17. Shepherd, Richard (21 March 2013). "1974–1989 Friday Fame & 80s Pain". Cardiff City F.C. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
  18. "Club Records". Cardiff City F.C. 28 May 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  19. Owens, David (1 April 2009). "Former players' memories of Ninian". WalesOnline. Media Wales. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  20. Lloyd, Grahame (1999). C'mon City! A Hundred Years of the Bluebirds. Bridgend: Seren Books. p. 123. ISBN   9781854112712.
  21. "Sweep Stakes Fines" . Gloucester Citizen. 20 July 1948. Retrieved 12 March 2019 via British Newspaper Archive.
  22. 1 2 3 "FA Cup hero's family to fly in for final". WalesOnline. Media Wales. 21 April 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  23. Olson, Leonard T. (1 December 2000). Masters Track and Field: A History. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. pp. 54–6. ISBN   978-0-7864-0889-4.
  24. "Steve Farquharson". elite Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  25. Shepherd 2002 , p. 23
  26. Shepherd 2002 , p. 24
  27. Shepherd 2002 , p. 25
  28. Shepherd 2002 , p. 26
  29. Shepherd 2002 , p. 27
  30. Shepherd 2002 , p. 28
  31. Shepherd 2002 , p. 29
  32. Shepherd 2002 , p. 30
  33. Shepherd 2002 , p. 31
  34. Shepherd 2002 , p. 32
  35. Shepherd 2002 , p. 33
  36. Shepherd 2002 , p. 34
  37. Shepherd 2002 , p. 35
  38. Shepherd 2002 , p. 36