Dublin born goalkeeper Tom Farquharson had played football with some success as a teenager in Ireland with Annally and CIYMS in Leinster, although moving to Wales after the First World War he initially took up rugby, and it was only when Oakdale were short of a goalkeeper in February 1921 that he returned to the game of his youth. He represented the Welsh Section of the Southern League whilst with Abertillery having joined them in January 1922, before joining Cardiff City, for whom he made his Football League debut against Manchester United in May 1922. The following season he took over in goal from Ben Davies in October and was a near ever present for the next eleven seasons. With Cardiff he went on to win four Welsh Cup winner’s medals and play in two FA Cup Finals, most significantly in 1927 when Cardiff’s 2-1 victory over Arsenal at Wembley took the ‘English’ Cup out of England for the first time, but he also played in the 1925 Final when Cardiff narrowly lost to Sheffield United.
Farquharson was in no small part responsible for shaping the rules of the game. His tactic during penalties was to move along the goal line, or as he did during the 1927 FA Cup quarter final with Chelsea, start from behind the goal line and charge the penalty taker. In front of 42,853 fans at Ninian Park, Chelsea forward Andy Wilson struck the ball with Farquharson blocking it on the six yard line – the advancing well-built six footer must have been an intimidating sight! The law was eventually changed so that a goalkeeper had to remain on his line until the penalty kick had been taken.
Capped by both the Irish FA and the FA of Ireland, Farquharson’s (Northern) Ireland career was greatly hindered by the presence of Elisha Scott, and he won a total of seven caps between March 1923 and February 1925. He will be best remembered for his performance in a 2-1 victory over England at Windsor Park in October 1923. Recalled by the IFA for a Home Nations match against Wales in April 1931, the Dublin-born Farquharson turned down the opportunity, electing to turn out for the ‘less-prestigious’ Irish Free State instead. It was to be his third FAIFS cap, having previously tuned out in 4-0 and 3-1 wins over Belgium in April 1929 and May 1930, and he made another telling late penalty save to keep the score to 1-1 against Spain in Barcelona. The following December he won his fourth and final cap in a 5-0 reverse by the Spanish at Dalymount Park. Further Irish Free State caps were denied to Farquharson, along with a number of his international colleagues, due to a dispute between the FAI and the Football League.
Although they were relegated in 1929 from the First Division and again from the Second Division two years later, Farquharson stayed as their fixture between the posts, making his final appearance at Bristol City in May 1935, albeit he had ceded the gloves to Jock Leckie, making only 14 appearances in his final season. By the time Farquharson left Cardiff in 1935 his total of 445 League appearances was a club record (he now stands second in the all-time list) until 1985 when it was surpassed by Phil Dwyer, and his total in all competitions was 519 games, including only League and FA Cup games he made 481 appearances over 14 seasons before retirement.
NB this photograph shows Farquharson gathering the ball in a match against Arsenal at Highbury on 17th October 1925. In the distance far left is Cardiff’s Fred Keenor, the player immediately behind Farquharson is Jack Page, the dark shirted Arsenal forward is Jimmy Brain and the blond Cardiff City player on the right is Harry Wake.