Albion’s 1925 schools soccer shield mystery
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.
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.
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