West Bromwich Albion

West Bromwich Albion 1895
Back: W. Williams, J. Reader, J Horton, T. Perry
Front: John Thomas (Tom) Higgins, J. Taggart, John (Jack) Banks, T. Hutchinson, W. Richards, R. McLeod, William (Billy) Isaiah Bassett

1895 FA Cup Final

Villa and Albion had played the last Final at the Oval, and these same two famous clubs were now contesting the first to be held at the Crystal Palace. They had faced each other twice in Finals - in 1887 and 1892 - and, with honours even, this was to be the decider.

Most of the 42,000 crowd missed the goal that won the match for Villa. It came, dramatically, after only thirty seconds, though there was some doubt about who scored it.

Devey, the Villa centre-forward, swung the ball out to his inside-left, Hodgetts. Hodgetts' long cross-pass found Athersmith on the right, and he centred for Chatt to shoot on the half-volley. The ball looked destined for the net but was diverted, either by goalkeeper Reader or by a defender on the line, to Devey who scored.

Most people in the ground had been prepared to credit Chatt with the goal, but Devey is now thought to have got the final, perhaps involuntary touch. The goal has been known ever since as Villa's 'Crystal Palace thunderbolt'.

Villa were the favourites and, for once, the favourites not only won but deserved to win. Only some great goalkeeping by 'Kicker' Reader and courageous defence, especially by right-back Williams, prevented the Villa forwards from adding to their score. Albion were unlucky to lose centre-half Higgins for a while with a cut head. He later returned to the fray but with his head heavily bandaged.

McLeod and Bassett, the latter once again playing brilliantly on the right wing, were still trying desperately to the end to save the day for Albion. It was Bassett's last Final and probably his finest, though he often found himself crowded off the ball by the big Villa defenders. He appeared in three Finals and earned two winners' medals.

In September 1895 the Cup was stolen from the shop window of William Shillcock, football and football boot manufacturer, of Newtown Row, Birmingham. Police investigation and the offer of a £10 reward failed to produce any result. The original Cup has never been seen or heard of since, and Villa were fined £25  a sum which paid for the new trophy provided by Messrs Vaughton's Ltd of Birmingham.

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