Saturday marks a truly historic occasion at The Hawthorns as we honour three bona fide Club legends in the latest cap presentations ahead of kick-off against QPR.
We will be saluting men who between them won four FA Cup winner’s medals, a League Cup winner’s tankard, represented the Throstles in the first ever Football League game at Stoke in 1888 and posted a host of other legendary Albion achievements that echo down the years.
Billy Bassett, Joe Wilson and Graham Lovett may no longer be with us, but we’re delighted to have representatives of their families will be joining us pitchside at 2.45pm on Saturday, where they will receive their caps from Alistair Robertson, second only to Tony Brown in Albion appearances with 626.
Billy Bassett and Joe Wilson featured in that first game at Stoke’s Victoria Ground in 1888 and, by virtue of alphabetical sequence, will receive caps number 1 and 10 respectively.
It is supremely fitting that cap No 1 belongs to Bassett, who can truly claim to be the Club’s founding father. Inspirational as a youngster in the FA Cup win of 1888 and instantly ushered into the England team, he played 311 senior games, including a second FA Cup win in 1892 and a losing final three years later, scoring 77 goals.
But Billy’s contribution did not stop there. In 1899, he returned as a director amid our financial crisis of 1905, going on to become Chairman from 1908 until his death in 1937, presiding over a period when Albion won the First Division title for the only time in 1919/20 and then completed the still unique double of winning FA Cup and promotion in 1930/31.
Joe Wilson, a playing colleague of Bassett’s, takes cap number 10 after lining up alongside him in that first league game in 1888. Wilson owns a special piece of Albion history as a consequence, scoring our first ever league goal as we went on to win 2-0.
While Bassett patrolled Albion’s right wing, Wilson was on the opposite flank and, in the course of a relatively short Albion career, rattled in 14 goals in just 52 senior games, including that one at Stoke. Like Bassett, he was an FA Cup winner against Preston in 1888, scoring six goals in the earlier rounds as we made our way to the final.
We will also be honouring the much-loved Graham Lovett - cap No. 465 - who was part of Albion’s golden cup fighting teams of the late 1960s, getting a winner’s tankard in the 1966 League Cup and then an FA Cup winner’s medal in 1968. A footballing prodigy, he made his debut at 17 and quickly earned comparisons with the great Duncan Edwards, such were his powerhouse performances in midfield.
His rich potential was never quite fulfilled, his career interrupted by two horrible car crashes, one at Christmas 1966 although such was his formidable strength and talent he still made Albion’s FA Cup winning team at Wembley just eight starts after his first accident.
Lovett, Albion’s first ever substitute in September 1965 in a First Division game at Northampton, made 157 appearances for the Throstles, scoring nine goals.
Sadly, he passed away following illness shortly before he had been due to join his old comrades at the Club’s 50th anniversary dinner in May this year.