OUR series on local winners of the FA Cup in the early days of the competition continues with a look at the 1892-93 season. West Bromwich Albion were the holders but they were knocked out in the first round proper; however the trophy still remained in the Black Country, thanks to the efforts of Albion’s great rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Wolves met Everton in the final on 25th March, 1893, and for only the second time the match was played outside London. The Kennington Oval had been the home of the cup final but Surrey County Cricket Club, alarmed at the ever-growing attendance and the damage that football did to their field, refused to allow the final to be played there again.
Although the Football Association was based in London it was Northern and Midlands clubs that dominated English football so it was appropriate that a venue for the final was found outside the capital. The FA settled on the Fallowfield Stadium, home of Manchester Athletics Club. The stadium opened in May 1892 and had a capacity of 15,000 but the FA seriously underestimated how many Wulfrunians and Liverpudlians would turn up to watch the match.
Official attendance was put at around 45,000 but there may have been nearer 60,000 crammed inside and lined up along the touch-line.
Top clubs were spared the preliminary qualifying rounds and so Wolves and Everton entered the hat in the first round proper. On 21st January, 1893, Everton were drawn away at West Bromwich Albion’s Stoney Lane ground and they comfortably defeated the cup holders 4-1. Wolves were also drawn away and travelled to Pikes Lane, the then home of Bolton Wanderers. The game ended 1-1 but in the replay at Molineux Wolves won 2-1.
In the second round Wolves had home advantage and beat Middlesbrough 2-1, while Everton also played at home, beating Nottingham Forest 4-2.
In the third round Wolves had a comfortable 5-0 win at home against Darwen and Everton also kept a clean sheet, beating the Wednesday 3-0 at Goodison Park.
The teams had now reached the semi-finals, which were to be played at neutral grounds on 4th March, 1893. Wolves were drawn against Blackburn Rovers and the match was played at the Town Ground, then home to Nottingham Forest; Wolves won 2-1. Everton were up against Preston North End at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. The match ended 2-2 so a replay was held at Bramall Lane on 16th March but that ended in a 0-0 draw. A third replay was held at Ewood Park, Blackburn, just five days before the final and Everton won 2-1.
Going into the final Everton were the favourites; they were going well in the First Division, eventually finishing third, and on 18th March they had played Wolves in the league. In the midst of their FA Cup semi-final replays Everton sent their reserves to the Molineux and they were victorious, 4-2.
Taking the field for Wolverhampton Wanderers at Fallowfield were: Harry Allen (captain), Dickie Baugh, Joe Butcher, Alf Griffin, George Kinsey, Billy Malpass, Billy Rose (goalkeeper), George Swift, Robert Topham, Harry Wood and David Wykes.
Playing for Everton were: Dickie Boyle, Edgar Chadwick, Patrick Gordon, Johnny Holt, Bob Howarth (captain), Bob Kelso, Alex Latta, Alan Maxwell, Alf Milward, Alec Stewart and Richard Williams (goalkeeper).
An account of the match and our picture of the victorious Wolves side come from the book The Cup 1883-1932, 50 Years of English Cup Finals, which has been kindly loaned to us by Rob Griffin of Halesowen ...
“The ever-increasing crowds clamouring to see this tit-bit of the Association game had necessitated a change of venue from the London Oval, but even the spaces of Fallowfield, Manchester, were strained to breaking point to contain the 40,000 enthusiasts who assembled to see the game. The attendance was a record one and many of the barricades were swept away by the swaying crowd — a wonderfully good-natured one, however who, although encroaching on the touch line, but little interfered with the progress of the game.
“The play displayed by both teams was far removed from what one was warranted to anticipate from the character of the elevens. Combination was singularly lacking on both sides, bouts of fantastic kicking being indulged in without the slightest attempt at placing or manipulating the ball.
“Neither set of forwards ever got really settled down, possibly accounted for by the fact that the backs played such a determined tackling game. The back play on both sides was, in fact, really good, in distinct contrast to the balance of play, although both goalkeepers, Williams and Rose, were responsible for some brilliant saves.
“The winning and only goal scored for the Wanderers in the second half by Topham from a most remarkable screw shot resulted in considerable controversy, and a protest was lodged by Everton with the referee. The score, however, after consideration by the Association, was allowed to stand.
“The Wanderers fought a strenuous fight, and on the run of the play won a wellearned victory. In the first portion they did not have as much of the game as their opponents, but in the second half they rallied grandly and had hardly turned a hair at the end of the game, whereas Everton were tiring rapidly, and seemed to have trained right off colour.”
This account of the final is at odds with other versions which accord the winning goal to Wolves captain Harry Allen in the 60th minute. His was a speculative shot from 35 yards but Richard Williams misjudged it and allowed the ball into the Everton net. Everton complained that the encroaching crowd had impeded their efforts to clear the ball which directly led to Allen having his opportunity on goal but the FA dismissed the appeal and Wolves’ victory stood.
Wolves brought the cup home for the first time, their victory undoubtedly the highlight of an average season. Of their 30 games in the First Division 1892-93 the Wolves won 12, drew 4 and lost 14 and finished 11th out of 16 teams. The nadir of the season came on 15th October, 1892, at Newton Heath when they lost 10-1, a result that ranks as Wolves’ heaviest defeat ever in competitive football.
Rob Griffin has lent the Bugle a second book, The Cup, published by the Football Association in 1948. It contains an interesting footnote to the 1893 final: “To commemorate Wolverhampton’s first victory in the competition a speculative Wolverhampton builder purchased the Dudley Road Ground, the home of the club before its move to Molineux, and built on the site, which he called Fallowfield Terrace, several houses each named after a member of the Wolves’ team. And in front of each house to this day there stands a replica of The Cup in stone.” Plaques According to Tony Matthews’ book Wolverhampton Wanderers the Complete Record, numbers 329 and 330 Dudley Road are the houses with commemorative plaques depicting the FA Cup and the houses named after Wolves players were built later in nearby Wanderers Avenue.
Our main picture shows the victorious Wolves players with the FA Cup. For most of the 1892-93 season they had played in diagonally halved gold and black shirts but for the cup final they wore stripes. From left they are: Baugh, Topham, Malpass, Wykes, Allen, Butcher, Rose, Wood, Kinsey, Griffin and Swift.
Our other pictures show a mock funeral card mourning the departure of Everton, and a photograph of the game showing the enormous crowd at Fallowfield.