Sunday, November 1, 2015

1 November 1952 - They Can't Call Him "Jimmy Scarce" Anymore

On 1 November 1952, Gillingham's Jimmy Scarth entered the record books by scoring what was, at the time, the Football League's fastest hat-trick.

The accomplishment came in a Division Three (South) match against Leyton Orient, played at Gills' home ground, Priestfield Stadium. It was shaping up to be a dismal season for Gillingham, who on the day were sitting in 17th place out of 24 teams. Orient were right behind them in the 18th spot, giving the contest the appearance of an early relegation battle.

Scarth had just joined Gillingham that year from Tottenham. Although part of the Spurs side that won the League in 1951, Scarth never fully found his form at White Hart Lane, making only 7 league appearances (and scoring only 3 goals) between 1948 and 1952. Surprisingly, he matched that tally against Orient alone.

Initial reports record his hat-trick as coming in at 2 minutes and 30 seconds, the fastest in Football League history at the time. The record fell in 2004, when Bournemouth's James Hayter scored a hat-trick of his own in 2 minutes, 20 seconds. Subsequent reports claim that Scarth's goals spanned 2 minutes flat, but the League recognizes only the originally reported time.

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