THIS coming weekend,the Football
League celebrates its 125th anniversary ...
and three of our local teams — Aston Villa
(formed in 1874), West Bromwich Albion
(1878) and Wolves (1877) — all featured
in opening day fixtures on 8 September 1888.
The idea of a Football League was the brainchild
of bearded Scotsman William McGregor,
an official of Aston Villa, who initially wrote to a
number of clubs in the North West of England
and the Midlands.
Twelve were eventually chosen as founder
members of the Football League, the nine others
being Accrington, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton
Wanderers, Burnley, Everton and Preston
North End from the north and three more
from the Midlands, Derby County, Notts
County and Stoke.
Five matches took place on the first Saturday
of League football — the results being
Bolton 3 Derby 6, Everton 2 Accrington 1, Preston
5 Burnley 2, Stoke 0 Albion 2 and Wolves 1
Aston Villa 1.
The sixth match, Blackburn v. Notts
County, was postponed to a later date because
Rovers had already booked a game on 8 September,
not knowing that the League programme
would start when it did.
The first ever League goal (anywhere in the
world!) was scored at precisely 3.47pm on Saturday
8 September 1888 by the England international
winger 'Kenny' Kenyon-Davenport, for
Bolton Wanderers against Derby at Pikes Lane.
Later in the afternoon,
Gersom Cox (Aston Villa) conceded the first
own-goal in League football (v. Wolves at Dudley
Road in front of 2,500 fans) and at the end of
the first batch of fixtures, West Bromwich Albion,
courtesy of their 2-0 win at Stoke before a 4,500+
crowd, officially became the first team to top the
Football League table, on goal-average, not goal
As the season moved on, Preston — the Pride
of the North — became stronger and stronger.
They comfortably won the title, remaining
unbeaten in their 22 matches, winning 18 and
drawing four. A decidedly gritty Aston Villa
finished second, Wolves came third and Albion
claimed sixth position while Stoke took the
Preston, also known at the time as the 'Invincibles'
or 'Lillywhites' went on to complete the
double in 1888-89 by beating Wolverhapton
Wanderers 3-0 in the FA Cup final.
For more sporting stories from around the
Black Country, visit our website at: www.black countrybugle.co.uk