Fascinating football facts
Curiosities of Midlands football, with Tony Matthews
•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).
• 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