Fas­ci­nat­ing foot­ball facts

Cu­riosi­ties of Mid­lands foot­ball, with Tony Matthews

Black Country Bugle - - YED SCRATCHERS -

•A Wolves player from the 1913-20 pe­riod, Henry How­ell, also played cricket for Eng­land in five Test Matches against Aus­tralia in the early 1920s. As an all-rounder, he spent 15 years with Warwickshire CCC (1913-28) ap­pear­ing in 198 first-class games. As a crick­eter, he scored 1,679 runs and took 975 wick­ets, tak­ing 10-51 against Yorkshire in 1923.

• A crowd of 54,405 saw the As­ton Villa-birm­ing­ham City Sec­ond Divi­sion derby on 18 Oc­to­ber 1969 – this was the big­gest at­ten­dance any­where in the coun­try that day.

• A lit­tle over two years later, in De­cem­ber 1971, a crowd of 54,437 at­tended a friendly be­tween As­ton Villa and the Brazil­ian club, San­tos who in­cluded Pele in their line-up.

• The first-ever game played at Hud­der­s­field Town’s Al­fred Mcalpine Sta­dium saw Birm­ing­ham City win 2-1 in May 1995.

• In sea­son 1994-95, Birm­ing­ham goal­keeper Ian Ben­nett kept a club record 19 clean sheets in the League (27 over­all). In 1997-98, he bet­tered that feat with 21 shutouts in the League.

• The record crowd for a League game at The Hawthorns – 60,945 – saw Al­bion and Wolves draw 1-1 in a First Divi­sion match in March 1950. Fu­ture Wolves and Al­bion man­ager Ron­nie Allen scored the equaliser on his Baggies’ de­but.

• On their way to win­ning the League Cup in 1980, Wolves ful­filled eleven matches – play­ing Burn­ley twice (1-1, 2-0), Crys­tal Palace (2-1), QPR twice (1-1, 1-0), Grimsby Town three times (0-0, 1-1, 2-0), Swin­don Town twice (1-2, 3-1) and then Not­ting­ham For­est in the fi­nal (1-0).

18 goals

• Birm­ing­ham City (then Small Heath) scored a to­tal of 18 goals in their first four League games at the start of the 1892-93 Sec­ond Divi­sion sea­son … beat­ing Burslem Port Vale 5-1 (in their firstever Foot­ball League fix­ture), Lin­coln City 4-1, Crewe Alexan­dra 6-0 and Dar­wen 3-2.

• Birm­ing­ham won the Sec­ond Divi­sion ti­tle in sea­son 1892-93 but missed out on pro­mo­tion when los­ing to New­ton Heath (now Manch­ester United) in a two-legged Test Match play-off. Thank­fully, a year later Blues fin­ished sec­ond in the ta­ble but this time gained pro­mo­tion af­ter beat­ing Dar­wen 3-1 in another end-of-sea­son Test Match.

• Birm­ing­ham be­came the first club to score 100 goals in a League sea­son – achiev­ing the feat in 1893-94 with a to­tal of 103 in 28 Sec­ond Divi­sion matches. Jack Hal­lam bagged the 100th goal away at Arse­nal in the penul­ti­mate game of the cam­paign.

Blues’ Ian Ben­nett: pic­ture by Sam Bag­nall

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