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A-Z of West Midlands Football

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: January 05, 2014

  • Wolverhampton's Jack Taylor

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REFEREES were first involved in football matches in 1871, but it wasn't until 1881 that they first appeared in the FA Cup, followed by the Football League in 1888. In March 1893, an official referees' association was formed.

David Asson, born in West Bromwich and an amateur with the Baggies before injury forced him to give up playing, became a referee and was in charge of the first-ever Wembley FA Cup final in 1923 when 'officially' 126,047 spectators saw Bolton Wanderers beat West Ham United 2-0.

Three more Black Country-born referees have taken charge of Wembley FA Cup finals. Bill Clements from West Bromwich officiated in 1965 when Liverpool beat Leeds United; Wolverhampton's 'man in black' Jack Taylor refereed the 1966 final between Everton and Sheffield Wednesday and Ken Burns from Stourbridge held the whistle for the Sunderland-Leeds encounter in 1973.

'Big Jack' Taylor also ran the line in various matches during the 1966 World Cup before officiating in the 1974 World Cup final between West Germany (the eventual winners) and Holland. He awarded two penalties, one in the first minute to the Dutch.

John Adams from Birmingham refereed the 1903 FA Cup final when Bury walloped Derby County 6-0; Tom Bryan from Willenhall was in charge when Blackburn Rovers beat Huddersfield 3-1 in the 1928 final and Percy Harper from nearby Worcester, was in charge of the infamous 'ball over the line final' of 1932 when Newcastle United defeated Arsenal 2-1.

The former Walsall player Steve Baines is one of the more recent ex-professional footballers to become a match official, while back in the 1920s, Walter (Bill) Hastings, who played for Birmingham before the First World War, became a full-time referee. And before him, Joe Wilson, who had the pleasure of scoring Albion's first-ever League goal versus Stoke in 1888, qualified as a linesman before becoming a Football League referee in 1894, continuing to officiate until 1910. Also Walter Perry who played for both Albion and Wolves in the 1880/90s, took up refereeing in local competitions before becoming a FL linesman.

Facts: On 27 March 1935, two referees were used in the international trial match at The Hawthorns between England and The Rest, and two months later, also at The Hawthorns, two were in operation (one in each half) when Albion played a Football League XI. And in 1996, the traditional linesmen became known as assistant referees.

CYRILLE REGIS, M.B.E. was a dynamic, all-action centre-forward who scored 112 goals in 302 appearances for Albion. Born in Maripiasoula, French Guyana in February 1958, he attended Cardinal Hinsley School (Harlesden), played for Borough of Brent Boys, Ryder Brent Valley, Oxford & Kilburn Boys, Ryder Brent Valley (again), Molesey FC (August 1975) and Hayes as a semi-professional from July 1976 before joining Albion for a bargain £5,000 in May 1977.

Known as 'Smokin Joe', Cyrille spent seven wonderful years with Albion. A huge favourite with the fans from the day of his debut when he scored twice in a 4–0 home League Cup victory over Rotherham United in August 1977, he found the back of the net on a regular basis, scoring some quite spectacular and breathtaking goals on the way.

Indeed, he created a club record – unique if you like – by netting on his debut for Albion in five different competitions – the Football League (v. Middlesbrough), FA Cup (v. Blackpool), League Cup (v. Rotherham), Tennent-Caledonian Cup (v. Southampton) and Central League (v. Sheffield Wednesday).

He actually netted three times in his four second XI games. Strong, muscular and aggressive, he had a terrific shot, his heading ability was top-class and he could leave opponents standing with his devastating speed over 25–30 yards. He would often collect the ball around the halfway line and head towards goal, brushing aside his markers with his powerful shoulders before unleashing a cannonball shot.

TV cameras have several of his classic goals on film so that we can relive his explosive style in years to come. He was certainly a snip of a signing from non-League football, spotted by Ronnie Allen who initially paid the money out of his own pocket to Hayes! Capped by England at full, 'B' and U21 levels, Cyrille was voted PFA Young Footballer of the Year in 1979 and took the runner's-up prize behind 'Footballer of the Year' Steve Perryman in 1982.

Following a guest appearance for Happy Valley FC in Hong Kong in 1980, he left The Hawthorns (annoyingly as far as the fans were concerned) for Coventry City for £300,000 in October 1984. After helping the Sky Blues win the FA Cup in 1987, he became player-coach at Highfield Road before transferring to Aston Villa on a free in July 1991. He netted 12 goals in 63 games for Villa before switching to Wolverhampton Wanderers (August 1993), and having scored twice in 23 appearances for the Molineux club, he moved to Wycombe Wanderers (August 1994) and finally onto Chester City (May 1995), retiring in May 1996.


A year later he returned to Albion as a coach and second team advisor (February 1997–January 2000) and is now a respected football agent, having had his nephew, Jason Roberts, as one of his players.

Also in 1987, Cyrille was voted The Evening Mail's Footballer of the Year, and was chosen as the Midlands Soccer Writer's Player of the Year after his part in Coventry's FA Cup triumph.

In May 1996, at the age of 37 years and 86 days, Cyrille became the oldest player ever to turn out in a League game for Wycombe and during his exciting career, he scored over 200 goals in more than 700 club and representative matches and he became the first professional to play for Albion, Villa, Wolves and Coventry.

A born-again Christian, other members of Cyrille's family include fellow footballers Dave Regis and Jason Roberts and Great Britain Olympic athlete John Regis.

And for the record, before he joined non-League club Molesey, Cyrille was offered a trial by Chelsea but had to pull out with a hamstring injury.

GEORGE REID was a tough-nut centre-forward who scored three goals in 13 appearances for Albion between August 1897 and March 1898. A Yorkshireman, born in Handsworth, Sheffield in February 1872, he played for Attercliffe and Sheffield Wednesday before moving to The Hawthorns for £100. On his departure he signed for Warmley FC (Bristol) before rounding off his career with Thames Ironworks (now West Ham United) and Middlesbrough, retiring in 1900 through injury. George died in Sheffield in December 1934.

GEORGE REID was a centre-forward or inside-left who played for Distillery, Blackpool, Walsall, Cardiff City, Fulham, Stockport County, Rotherham United and Mid-Rhondda United between 1915 and 1926.

Born in Belfast in January 1896, he won one full international cap for his country and during his career netted 60 goals in 105 club appearances, having his best spell with Walsall, in 1921 and 1922. As a 'Saddler' he netted 37 times in only 55 outings. George died circa 1960.

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