Club News

BOWLER'S DELIVERY: Squaring the circle

A title tale from 1920

ANTONIO Conte will be bringing his Chelsea team to The Hawthorns on Friday night looking to clinch the Premier League title, a deserved reward that we will be looking to deny them, for another few days at least. 

We have taken on Chelsea before a title winning party before, only that time, it was the Throstles that were top of the pile, carrying off the First Division championship back in 1919/20.

So superior were the Albion to the rest of the competition that season that we had won the league long, long before that final game, here at The Hawthorns, with Chelsea as our visitors. 

In those days, the celebrations could not begin until game 42, despite our carrying off the crown with four games to spare. But that didn’t mean there was nothing to play for because a home win would see us become the first team to ever collect 60 points in a season while a Chelsea win would give them second place in the First Division. 

As the teams took to the field, walking past the championship trophy decorated in navy blue and white ribbons, Albion’s chairman, Billy Bassett, hoisted the Championship Flag above the grandstand to emphasise that we were the masters now. All that was wanted was a display worthy of champions.

The Throstles did not disappoint, seizing the initiative after 17 minutes when a Fred Morris effort was deflected into the path of Bobby McNeal and he stroked it past Molyneux in goal – another poke in the eye for Staffordshire. It was goal number 101 of the season, beating the record number of goals that we had held jointly with Sunderland. 

Any doubts over the final result were cleared in a dozen dramatic minutes after the break as Albion scored three times. Almost as soon as the whistle went to restart the game, Gregory was heading past Molyneux, then, five minutes later, Andy Smith hammered in a belter from distance, Alf Bentley completing the scoring in the 57th minute, securing the two points that left us nine points clear of second placed Burnley. 

According to the “Albion News”, “At the close of the match, there was a memorable scene. The crowd rushed over the field to the front of the directors’ seats on which the League cup was proudly displayed. 

“Mr. McKenna, chairman of the Football League, said he had come there that day to do honour to the Albion by presenting them with that cup. It had been won by many clubs before, but he did not think at any period it had been won by a more brilliant team than had secured it this year.

“He did not think any other club would begrudge them winning it after 28 years. They had won the English Cup twice, been in the final six times and the semi-final ten times. It had always been said that the English Cup was the blue ribbon of football. He was not going to dispute that statement but if the English Cup was the blue ribbon, The League Cup was the Royal blue.

“The Cup had been won after the Albion had faced 21 competitors and after 42 games in all. That denoted consistency of football and a team that carried off the Championship nowadays deserved all the honour that could be given to them.

“Pennington received the trophy and remarked that it was not necessary for him to state that that was the proudest moment of his football career. There was only one honour he now desired and that was the English Cup winner’s medal. Before anno domini made a more intimate relationship with him, he trusted he should have that medal to put with the others. The team thanked their supporters for rallying round them; nothing could have been pleasanter than to face the crowds week after week. 

“Mr. Bassett expressed the pleasure he felt in the club’s success and announced that a contract had been signed and would be entered upon immediately for the terracing of the whole of the one shilling part of the ground.

“At the close of the proceedings, Pennington and his colleagues received a great ovation from the crowd”.

And rightly so…