Al­bion’s 1925 schools soc­cer shield mys­tery

Black Country Bugle - - BUGLE SPORT - by DAN SHAW

THE Old Thros­tles As­so­ci­a­tion holds reg­u­lar get-to­geth­ers for all for­mer pupils of West Bromwich Gram­mar School and at a meet­ing ear­lier this year an un­usual item of sport­ing mem­o­ra­bilia turned up.

The as­so­ci­a­tion holds ad­mis­sion and exam records from the old school as well as a host of me­men­toes of the past, such as the old house ban­ners and many of the old sport­ing tro­phies that the chil­dren used to com­pete for.

At the last meet­ing some of these tro­phies were dusted off for the gath­ered old boys and girls to view and among them was this large shield that none of the present as­so­ci­a­tion mem­bers knows any­thing about.

Em­bla­zoned in scroll­work across the top of the shield is the leg­end West Bromwich Ele­men­tary Schools Cham­pi­onship Com­pe­ti­tion and a sec­ond in­scrip­tion lower down reads, Pre­sented by West Bromwich Al­bion Foot­ball Club 1925.

The Old Thros­tles are hop­ing that there may be some­one among our read­ers who knows more about this com­pe­ti­tion. They have sev­eral ques­tions. How long did the com­pe­ti­tion run for? How did the shield come into the school’s pos­ses­sion? Was the Gram­mar School the out­right win­ner of the shield or were they the hold­ers when the com­pe­ti­tion ended?

The shield is a fine ex­am­ple of the kind of tro­phy that has been made in Birm­ing­ham’s Jewellery Quar­ter for gen­er­a­tions. The mak­ers were Vaughtons, founded in 1819 and still a lead­ing man­u­fac­turer in the Jewellery Quar­ter to­day, pro­duc­ing the Foot­ball League’s medals ev­ery year.

Arms

At the cen­tre of the shield is a fine piece of enamel dec­o­rated with the bor­ough arms of West Bromwich – of­ten worn as a badge by West Bromwich Al­bion.

Around the wooden back to the shield are studs, likely to mount small plaques bear­ing the names of the win­ning schools. How­ever, it ap­pears that none have ever been in place.

1925 was one of the bet­ter years in Al­bion’s his­tory. They fin­ished the 1924-25 sea­son as run­ners-up in the old First Di­vi­sion, just two points be­hind the cham­pi­ons Hud­der­s­field Town (58-56). Fe­bru­ary 28, 1925, saw the Bag­gies beat As­ton Villa 4-1 at the Hawthorns in front of a crowd of 22,123. Sadly, after the sum­mer break, Al­bion were not able to main­tain their form, al­though they did thump West Ham United 7-1 at home on Oc­to­ber 24, 1925. In­con­sis­tent re­sults saw the Bag­gies fin­ish the 1925-26 sea­son in 13th place.

West Bromwich Gram­mar School was founded in 1902 as the West Bromwich Mu­nic­i­pal Se­condary School at the West Bromwich In­sti­tute in Lodge Road. The en­tire cost of the new school was borne by Sir Ge­orge Ken­rick.

Pupils

In the early years the school took pupils from out­side West Bromwich, with pupils from Wed­nes­bury, Tip­ton, and Bil­ston. The school was ex­tended in 1907 and 1909 and by 1919 there were 470 pupils.

By the 1930s nearly all the pupils came from West Bromwich and in 1944 the school be­came the bor­ough’s only gram­mar school. In 1964 the school moved to new build­ings in Clarkes Lane and in 1969 it be­came the com­pre­hen­sive Men­zies High School.

The Old Thros­tles As­so­ci­a­tion was re­formed fol­low­ing the 2002 cen­te­nary re­union after be­ing dor­mant for 30 years. It or­gan­ises a small number of events each year for for­mer pupils and cur­rently has around 50 mem­bers across the coun­try. Up­dates on their ac­tiv­i­ties as well as mem­o­ries and pic­tures are avail­able at www.oldthros­tles.co.uk

What’s the story be­hind the West Bromwich Ele­men­tary Schools Cham­pi­onship Shield?

Bor­ough coat of arms on the shield that was pre­sented by West Bromwich Al­bion FC

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