STAN CROWTHER, who has died aged 78, created a piece of football history. He was also part of a golden era for Bilston boys.
He remains the only player allowed to play for two teams in the same season's FA Cup competition and was one of five Bilston-born cup-winners in a 12-season period.
The wing-half was allowed to play for Manchester United, who had been ravaged by the Munich air disaster in February, 1958. He had already played for Aston Villa three times in the cup that campaign as it took two replays before they bowed out to Stoke in the third round. So technically, he was cup-tied but the FA waived their rules to help the stricken United. Having played for the Villa team who beat United 2–1 in the 1957 final, Crowther, who began his career with Bilston Borough, then helped United miraculously reach Wembley again only to lose 2–0 to Bolton.
In the space of 12 seasons no fewer than five Bilston-born players were on the winning side at Wembley, starting with Bert Williams and Bill Shorthouse in 1949.
They helped Wolves beat Leicester 3–1 in the final and were not only team-mates but both former pupils of St Martin's School, Bradley.
Not surprisingly one of their happy tasks later that year was to take the trophy back to their old school to show the youngsters.
A year later Arsenal beat Liverpool 2–0 and the scorer of both goals was Reg Lewis. Born in Bilston, he grew up down south and joined Arsenal in 1935, having previously played for Margate.
Lewis scored 103 goals in just 154 league games for the Gunners, 14 of those goals coming when they were champions in 1947–8.
After Crowther's success with Villa in 1957, another Bilston boy was trotting around Wembley three years later with a winner's medal in his hand – George Showell. Originally seen as successor to Billy Wright, he eventually gained a place at right-back in the side who beat Blackburn 3–0 in the final.
For good measure two of the goals in that 1960 final were scored by a lad from "down the road" – Norman Deeley from Wednesbury.
After his stint with United, Crowther later played for Chelsea and Brighton and Hove Albion. He won three England under-23 caps, playing alongside such men as Johnny Haynes and Jimmy Greaves.