Barnet 3-2 Wealdstone (lost footage of Athenian League football match; 1946)

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Barnetvswealdstone1.jpg

Football programme for the match.

Status: Lost

On 19th October 1946, Barnet hosted Wealdstone at the Underhill Stadium in an Athenian League football match. Barnet won the match 3-2, contributing towards the club becoming 1946/47 Athenian League champions. This match is historic for being the first televised post-Second World War football match.

Background[edit | edit source]

Heading into the match, both teams were seeking more successful Athenian League campaigns than the previous year, with Wealdstone and Barnet finishing 6th and 8th in the 1945/46 Athenian League respectively.[1] Particularly, Barnet had high expectations for the season, having won the 1945-46 FA Amateur Cup by beating Bishop Auckland 3-2 in the Final.[2]

Meanwhile, the BBC had resumed its Television Service on 7th June 1946.[3] With the 1946 FA Cup Final having already occurred on 27th April 1946,[4] the organisation was aiming to find a football league willing to allow one of its football matches to be televised. Initially, the BBC had trouble securing a deal, as both the Football League and the competing clubs were reluctant to allow football to be televised, as there were fears stadium attendance would suffer. However, the corporation persevered, believing television coverage would increase the football audience. Eventually, the Athenian League agreed to let the BBC, to televise the upcoming Barnet-Wealdstone match, which was ideal for the corporation, as it could only televise games in the London area.[5] Although it is sometimes claimed the Barnet-Wealdstone match was the first live televised football match,[6] the BBC had been broadcasting matches since the 1937 FA Cup Final, with an international match between England and Scotland in 1938 receiving full coverage. Nevertheless, the match was significant in being the first post-World War 2 televised game.[5]

According to issue 1,202 of Radio Times, the first half of the match would be partially televised, with only the second half receiving full coverage. Coverage would also be split by a program featuring Australian escapologist Murray.[7][8] Overall, coverage of the match was deemed a success, with Edgar Keil being on hand to provide commentary.[5] Nevertheless, the broadcast had to cease fifteen minutes early because of the lack of light and the presence of significant downpour.[5][9] The BBC would later go on to televise an FA Cup fifth round match between Charlton Athletic and Blackburn Rovers, and regularly televises football matches to the present day.[5]

The Match[edit | edit source]

A surviving newspaper clipping helps to document the match. Prior to kick-off, the teams and referee appeared before the television camera located at the half-way line. Overall, the game was fast-paced, with multiple scoring opportunities for both sides. Nevertheless, it appeared Wealdstone had the upper hand in the first half, with the visitors taking the lead thanks to a goal from winger J. Moore, holding on to this lead by the end of the first-half. However, Barnet's Phipps quickly equalised upon the start of the second half, and despite Wealdstone's defensive efforts, took the lead via Kelleher scoring a 25 yard cross drive. The newspaper claimed the final 20 minutes were the most intense, with Barnet's Finch scoring his club's third goal with a shot from the right wing. Moore nevertheless proved to be the most valuable player for Wealdstone, scoring a goal from the edge of the penalty area and earning praise from the newspaper for his overall performance.[9]

Nevertheless, despite the newspaper believing the club did deserve a point, Wealdstone would ultimately lose the match 3-2.[9] This notably contradicts the Wealdstone website's claim that the team lost 2-0.[6] Regardless, Barnet would go on to become the 1946/47 champions with 34 points, beating Sutton United by virtue of a better goal difference. Wealdstone finished alongside Bromley and Southall on 30 points, with Wealdstone being ranked behind Bromley but ahead of Southall based on goal difference.[6]

Availability[edit | edit source]

Like all early television programs, the Barnet-Wealdstone match was televised live and was unlikely to have been directly recorded. Although there were means of achieving this following the Second World War, recording seldom occurred until video tape was perfected in the late-1950s.[10] Thus, televised footage of the match is most likely permanently missing. Because the match occurred in an amateur league, no newsreel footage was recorded for the match. Nevertheless, newspaper clippings and issue 1,202 of Radio Times help to document the match's television significance.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

Association Football/Soccer Media[edit | edit source]

Early BBC Sports Television[edit | edit source]

Early BBC Television[edit | edit source]

Early Sports Television Media[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]