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When local giants clashed for the FA Charity Shield

By dan shaw  |  Posted: August 17, 2013

International duties for the likes of Billy Wright and John Nicholls meant the players taking the field were different to those listed in the programme

International duties for the likes of Billy Wright and John Nicholls meant the players taking the field were different to those listed in the programme

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THE FA Community Shield was played for on Sunday but we go back to the 1950s, when the trophy was known by its original name of the FA Charity Shield, and the occasion when the two biggest rivals in Black Country football contested the match.

Molineux was the venue on 29th September, 1954, when League champions Wolverhampton Wanderers took on FA Cup holders West Bromwich Albion.

This official programme from the game belongs to Maureen Boswell of Bewdley. Her late husband Bob was a life-long Baggies fan and attended most of their big games in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s and built up quite a collection of Albion memorabilia.

The 1953-54 season was arguably the finest in Black Country football. Wolves and Albion were the front runners in Division One with Wolves winning their first championship and the Baggies finishing runners up, four points behind. In the FA Cup Wolves were knocked out in the third round but Albion went all the way to win the competition for the fourth time.

In the ’50s it was the norm for the League champions to host the FA Charity Shield match, hence the game was played at Molineux.

Unlike today, when the game is a preliminary to the new football season, back then the match was slotted in around existing fixtures. In fact, that week in September 1954 saw a number of international matches which meant that many of the players listed in the programme were unavailable due to representing their country. The Wolves were most affected by this national call-up and the team that took the field was very different to that advertised: 1 Bert Williams, 2 Bill Guttridge, 3 Bill Shorthouse, 4 Ron Flowers, 5 Eddie Russell, 6 Eddie Clamp, 7 Johnny Hancocks, 8 Peter Broadbent, 9 Roy Swinbourne, 10 Norman Deeley, 11 Dennis Wilshaw. Changes to the Albion line up saw Billy Brookes replace Ray Barlow at no.6, and Wilf Carter replace John Nicholls at no.10.

Thriller

The match under the Molineux floodlights was something of a thriller. Wolves took the lead with a Roy Swinbourne goal on 12 minutes and extended their lead on 46 minutes when Norman Deeley scored. But the Baggies bounced back with a brace of goals by Ronnie Allen on 56 and 57 minutes. Wolves went back in front, Swinbourne scored again on 62 minutes and Johnny Hancocks netted on 73 minutes. Again the Baggies fought back again; Reg Ryan scored in the 77th minute and Allen got his hat-trick on 79 minutes.

The match finished 4-4 and as there was no extra time or penalties in those days the two teams shared the Charity Shield, each holding it for six months.

Although this was the first major match between Albion and Wolves under floodlights it was not the first time they had played each other under lights. Around a year earlier Hednesford Town had inaugurated floodlights at their Cross Keys ground and had invited their First Division neighbours to play each other in a friendly as the first floodlit game.

The FA?Charity Shield was founded in 1908, replacing the Sheriff of London Charity?Shield, and was first played between the Football?League First Division champions and the champions of the Southern League.

Over the years the format has changed several times. In 1913 it was played between amateurs and professionals and in 1921 it was contested by the League champions and the FA Cup holders for the first time. This became the established pattern but there were exceptions, such as 1971 when double-winning Arsenal were unable to take part so Second Division champions Leicester City played FA Cup runners-up Liverpool. In 1972 League champions Derby?County and FA Cup winners Leeds United both declined to take part, so fourth-placed Manchester?City played Third Division champions Aston Villa.

Wolves have played in five Charity Shield matches, winning outright in 1959, sharing  in 1949, 1954, and 1960 and losing in 1958, while Albion have played in four, winning outright in 1920, sharing in 1954 and losing in 1931 and 1968.

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