By Laura Jones
In his black and white striped button up shirt, long shorts and thick wool socks, James Logan cuts a dashing figure. With his dark brown hair neatly side parted and his moustache trimmed, the Notts County striker is perfectly attired for his team’s celebration photograph.
Logan sits centre stage next to the FA Cup, the cup he essentially won for County in 1894.
James Logan had started his career at Ayr F.C in 1891, at the age of 20, where he attracted the attention of the Scottish FA. On his international debut he scored in a 4-3 win over Wales.
Despite his promise, the Scottish striker moved to Sunderland but only played two games for the club. James Logan didn’t seem destined to be a professional player and he made his way back to Ayr, returning to his amateur roots. This was until Aston Villa made him an offer.
Villa paid £30 for Logan, a large sum for an unproven striker. In his first season he played ten times and scored in seven of these games, but again this wouldn’t last beyond another season.
It’s unclear why this prolific forward was moved on but in 1893 he signed for second division Notts County, a move that would mark his name in football’s history books.
County started the season with four consecutive wins. James Logan scored in all of them. On his debut he scored twice in a 3-0 win over Grimsby and within weeks he added his first hat-trick in a 6-1 win over Burslem Port Vale.
The formation favoured in 1893/94 was 2-3-5. Notts County played this formation with England international Harry Daft playing on the left wing, County went the whole season with only a handful of losses. Logan revelled in the supply he was receiving from his teammates.
It was the Magpies FA Cup run where Logan really stood out. He scored in every round except the semi-final. In the First Round he scored the only goal against Burnley and in the Second Round he claimed the first in a 2-0 win over Burton Wanderers. In the Third Round, County met local rivals Nottingham Forest. After a 1-1 draw at Forest, County demolished them at home in the replay with Logan providing another goal in the 4-1 win.
It was expected that Notts County would lose in the semi-final at Bramall Lane. They had drawn Blackburn Rovers who were battling for second place in the First Division. In a close match, Harry Daft scored the only goal of the game to put the Magpies into the FA Cup final against Bolton Wanderers.
The game should have been played at the Fallowfield Ground in Manchester but there had been problems at the 1893 final, when 45,000 spectators turned up to a 15,000 capacity stadium. Most of the supporters at the game had attended but not seen a great deal of it. The ground was chosen again for the 1899 FA Cup Semi-Final but the Sheffield United v Liverpool game had to be abandoned due to a crush in the crowd. The FA decided that the 1894 final would be played at Goodison Park for safety reasons.
Bolton Wanderers hadn’t had a great season. They were near the foot of the First Division and one of their star players, England winger David Weir, had been left out of the squad due to disagreements with the club directors. Bolton did however have their captain, Di Jones, who was a confident Welsh international and a formidable full back.
It is a sad coincidence that Di Jones would also lose his life as a consequence of playing football in 1902. He contracted tetanus after injuring himself on a piece of glass on a football pitch.
Notts County, unlike Bolton, were at full strength and fighting for a cause. The morning of the final the team were informed of the sudden death of Sandy Ferguson, a former teammate, who had played with them in the FA Cup Final only three years earlier.
According to Philip Gibbons book Association Football in Victorian England, the game was all Notts County with James Logan and Sam Donnelly putting constant pressure on the Bolton defence. Arthur Watson scored County’s first, assisted by a cross from Logan. The Nottingham team went into half time 2-0 up thanks to ‘Jimmy Logan’ and some ‘excellent wing play’ from Daft.
Logan came out in the second half as jubilant as the first and scored twice in a three minute period. This was only the second ever hat-trick in an FA Cup final, the first being William Townley in 1890 for Blackburn Rovers. Since James Logan there has only ever been one other hat-trick in an FA Cup final which was Stan Mortensen for Blackpool in 1953 and this remains the only Wembley hat-trick ever recorded.
Bolton scored a consolation goal to make the score 4-1 but the day belonged to Notts County and to their hatrick hero James Logan. The Sheffield Independent wrote that Logan was a ‘hero’ and another writer equated his performance to like ‘a clipper in full sail.’
However, it didn’t last at Notts County. Logan again unsettled he moved onto Dundee and Newcastle where he continued to score. In 1896, only five years after his debut, Logan was moving to his seventh club Loughborough F.C where a ‘large sum of money’ was paid for his transfer fee.
In true Jimmy Logan fashion he scored on his debut and helped lift the Luffs off the bottom of the Second Division with a further four goals in ten games.
On April 3rd the Loughborough team travelled to Chesire to play Crewe Alexandra. The game had been switched from Crewe’s home ground because of the ‘misconduct of the Crewe people.’ As Loughborough were due to play Newton Heath the next day, the game was brought to Sandbach.
On April 4th the game against Newton Heath was delayed by 30 minutes. The reason…whilst the Loughborough team were in Manchester their kit was unfortunately still in Sandbach.
Unable to delay the game any further and with a driving rain causing issues on the pitch, the Loughborough team turned out in ‘borrowed plumes’. James Logan was one of the unfortunate players who hadn’t been able to borrow any kit. He played in the clothes he had travelled in on the train.
The rain must have weighed down Logan suit and clung to him as he attempted to play and the game ended in 2-0 loss. For the Loughborough striker it would cost him more than a defeat.
Logan caught a ‘chill’ from the Newton Heath game and missed the next three games. Still unwell but able to play, Logan managed to turn out in the final match of the season against Crewe Alexandra. Ever the goalscorer, he found his way onto the score sheet in a 4-1 victory.
In the close season James Logan appeared to be making a good recovery but on the 23rd May 1896 he took a turn for the worse. He was diagnosed with pneumonia, which had developed from his ‘chill’. The fated forward never recovered. Two days later James Logan died at the age of 25.
Logan was a star striker who according to the papers ‘made friends wherever he went.’
The football world will be all the poorer for his untimely decease [sic].
James Logan may have survived if the Newton Heath game had been suspended. He was a history-making footballer who died whilst playing in a suit but he will forever remain that dashing young man in Notts County’s FA Cup winning team.