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What's the key to Wolves FA Cup cloth cap conundrum?

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: May 31, 2014

By Gavin Jones

This cap dates back at least to 1949, and most likely to 1908

This cap dates back at least to 1949, and most likely to 1908

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FOOTBALL crowds of a couple of generations ago, we might assume from the old black and white photos showing a sea of flat caps, were a fairly drab bunch compared to today's audience, with virtually everyone in a replica shirt or scarf.

But here's evidence that that wasn't quite the case. This bright gold cap, printed with black designs, has been brought to our attention by Greg Freeman of Wolverhampton, and it is of some considerable age in footballing terms.

"It's an old Wolves cap which belonged to my great-grandfather, says Greg, "and I'm looking to find out more about it.

"I have been told that my great-grandfather wore this cap at the 1908 FA Cup final, although I don't know if this is true or not.

"But I do know that there's a photo of my great-grandfather wearing this cap while celebrating after Wolves won the 1949 FA Cup final. This was in the pink paper, although I don't have a copy of it."

The cap is in remarkably good condition, still a vivid gold, which suggests it was made specifically for Wolves fans. But what were all those symbols about? At first glance it seems likely they were references to local industries; the keys especially being an obvious nod to the many lock works in and around Wolverhampton.

There were also agricultural tool manufacturers in the town; the Wolverhampton Red Book of 1911 lists four, including the well-known Bayliss, Jones and Bayliss.

But what's the significance of the white horse, and the fish hooks? And just what are the other items? There seems to be some short-handled spades of some no doubt specialised kind, what look like a row of machetes, and some ornate, broad-shouldered bottles.

The name on the lining has faded over the years, but it looks like the maker was Conway, possibly Thomas, but we can't find any reference to hat or cap makers of this name in any town directories of the period.

Get your thinking caps on! Can you tell us what the symbols on this rare old item stood for? Or do you have unusual footballing memorabilia of your own that you'd like to share with Bugle readers? Give us a call, drop by our office, write in or send an email to gjones@blackcountrybugle.co.uk.

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