|Event||1871–72 FA Cup|
|Date||16 March 1872|
|Venue||Kennington Oval, London|
|Referee||Alfred Stair (Upton Park)|
The 1872 FA Cup Final was a football match between Wanderers and Royal Engineers on 16 March 1872 at Kennington Oval in London. It was the final of the first staging of the Football Association Challenge Cup (known in the modern era as the FA Cup), which became the primary cup competition in English football and the oldest football competition in the world. Fifteen teams entered the competition in its first season and, due to the rules in place at the time, Wanderers reached the final having won only one match in the four preceding rounds. In the semi-finals, they drew with the Scottish club Queen's Park, but reached the final when the Scots withdrew from the competition as they could not afford to return to London for a replay.
The final was decided by a single goal, scored after fifteen minutes by Morton Betts of Wanderers, who was playing under the pseudonym "A.H. Chequer". The Engineers were praised for their innovative use of passing, then referred to as the "Combination Game", at a time when most teams relied almost solely on dribbling tactics. Despite this they could not manage to score a goal. The winning Wanderers team did not receive the trophy until the following month, when it was presented to them at a special reception at the Pall Mall Restaurant.
Wanderers and Royal Engineers were among fifteen teams who entered the inaugural FA Cup competition, and both were allocated home matches in the first round.Wanderers were paired with Harrow Chequers, a team consisting of former pupils of Harrow School, and the Engineers were set to face Reigate Priory. Neither match actually took place, however, as in both cases the away team withdrew from the competition, sending the home team through to the next round on a walkover. In the second round, both teams played away matches and emerged victorious. Wanderers defeated Clapham Rovers 1–0 in December and the Engineers beat Hitchin 5–0 the following month.
At the quarter-final stage, Wanderers drew 0–0 with Crystal Palace (a former amateur club not thought to be connected to the current professional club of the same name).Rather than be made to replay the match, however, both teams were permitted to go through to the semi-finals under one of the competition's original rules, which stated that in the event of a drawn match the teams would either be made to play again or both progress to the next round, at the organising committee's discretion. The Engineers beat Hampstead Heathens 2–0. In the semi-finals Wanderers took on the leading Scottish club Queen's Park who, due to a combination of walkovers and byes, had reached this stage of the competition without actually playing a match. The rules of the competition stated that all matches from the semi-final stage onwards would take place at Kennington Oval in London and, after being held to a 0–0 draw, the Scottish club could not afford to make the lengthy trip from Glasgow a second time for a replay and withdrew from the competition, sending Wanderers into the final. The Engineers also drew their semi-final at the Oval 0–0, and beat Crystal Palace 3–0 in the replay.
As was common at the time, both teams focused mainly on attack rather than defence, the Engineers lining up with seven forwards and Wanderers with eight.Wanderers forward Morton Betts played under the pseudonym "A. H. Chequer", derived from his membership of the Harrow Chequers club. Some sources state that he played under an assumed name to disguise the fact that he was cup-tied, having been a registered player of the Chequers club at the start of the competition and therefore ineligible to play for another club in that season's cup. This, however, is unlikely to be true, as in the early amateur era of football players were not required to be formally registered with clubs. Cuthbert Ottaway, a future captain of the England national team, played for two different clubs in consecutive rounds of the 1871–72 FA Cup without incident.
Wanderers captain C. W. Alcock won the coin toss and chose to defend the Harleyford Road end of the ground, meaning that the Engineers, who were considered the favourites at the start of play, initially had the sun and wind in their faces.Early in the game, Edmund Creswell of the Royal Engineers suffered a broken collar bone in a melee. He refused to leave the pitch but due to his injury was forced to spend the remainder of the match as a "passenger" on the wing. Wanderers' tactics centred on the dribbling skills of individual players, while the Engineers favoured passing the ball, a style then known as the "Combination Game" and considered innovative, of which they were leading exponents.
Wanderers took the lead fifteen minutes into the game when Betts opened the scoring from an acute angle after Walpole Vidal's long dribble. Under the rules in use at the time, the teams changed ends after each goal, but the Engineers were unable to take advantage of the fact that the sun and wind were now behind them, and the Wanderers players remained dominant.After twenty minutes Alcock put the ball past the Engineers' goalkeeper, William Merriman, but the goal was disallowed because Charles Wollaston had handled the ball. Wanderers continued to exert further pressure on the Engineers' goal and only Merriman's skill was able to prevent them from increasing their lead. One newspaper later described his performance as "perfect". Despite a late rally from the Engineers, Wanderers were able to hold on to their lead and the game ended in a 1–0 victory. Newspaper The Field called the final "the fastest and hardest match that has ever been seen at The Oval" and said that the Wanderers displayed "some of the best play, individually and collectively, that has ever been shown in an Association game".
The Cup was presented by the President of the Football Association, Mr E. C. Morley, at the annual dinner of the Wanderers at the Pall Mall Restaurant, Charing Cross, on 11 April.The Football Association also gave each player in the winning team a silk badge commemorating the victory and the Wanderers' committee presented each player with an inscribed gold medal. As cup-holders, Wanderers received a bye straight to the final of the following year's FA Cup, in keeping with the original concept of the competition being a "challenge cup". This was the only time this rule was used.
In 1938, The Times published an obituary for Thomas Hooman and stated that he had scored the winning goal in the 1872 cup final, citing an interview the player gave shortly before his death. This claim is not backed up by contemporary newspaper reports, all of which list Betts as the goalscorer, and, as other quoted aspects of Hooman's reminiscences about the match were incorrect, it seems that in his old age he was confusing the 1872 final with another match in which he played.
In 2010, the only known surviving medal from the final was offered for sale at an auction in London. It had been purchased by a jeweller as part of a house clearance in the 1950s and was expected to sell for up to £50,000,but was ultimately purchased by the Professional Footballers' Association for £70,500. On 7 November 2012, the match was replayed by the reformed Wanderers side and the Royal Engineers team at the original venue, The Oval.
Wanderers Football Club was an English football club based in Upper Norwood, London. The original club was an amateur one founded as "Forest Football Club" in 1859. In 1864, it changed its name to "Wanderers". Comprising mainly former pupils of the leading English public schools, Wanderers was among the dominant teams of the early years of organised football and won the Football Association Challenge Cup on five occasions, including defeating Royal Engineers in the first FA Cup final in 1872.
1871–72 was the first season of competitive association football in England. The Football Association introduced their Football Association Challenge Cup, a knockout tournament which is the world's oldest national-level football competition.
The 1871–72 Football Association Challenge Cup was the first staging of the Football Association Challenge Cup, usually known in the modern era as the FA Cup, the oldest association football competition in the world. Fifteen of the association's fifty member clubs entered the first competition, although three withdrew without playing a game. In the final, held at Kennington Oval in London on 16 March 1872, Wanderers beat the Royal Engineers by a single goal, scored by Morton Betts, who was playing under the pseudonym A. H. Chequer.
The 1873 FA Cup Final was a football match between Wanderers and Oxford University on 29 March 1873 at Lillie Bridge in London. It was the second final of the world's oldest football competition, the Football Association Challenge Cup. Unusually, the final was held in the morning, so as to avoid a clash with the annual Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race which was held on the same day. Wanderers reached the final without playing a match, as the original rules of the competition stated that the holders would receive a bye straight to the final and other teams would compete to gain the other place in the final and challenge the holders for the trophy. Oxford reached the final when their semi-final opponents, Queen's Park, dropped out of the competition
The 1874 FA Cup final was a football match between Oxford University and Royal Engineers on 14 March 1874 at Kennington Oval in London. It was the third final of the world's oldest football competition, the Football Association Challenge Cup. Both teams had previously reached the final but been defeated by Wanderers. The Engineers had reached the final with comparative ease, scoring sixteen goals and conceding only one in the four previous rounds. Oxford's opponents in the earlier rounds had included two-time former winners Wanderers.
The 1875 FA Cup Final was a football match between Royal Engineers and Old Etonians on 13 March 1875 at Kennington Oval in London. It was the fourth final of the world's oldest football competition, the Football Association Challenge Cup. Heading into the final, the Royal Engineers were playing in their third final after losing the 1872 and 1874 finals while the Old Etonians were playing in their first FA Cup final.
Robert Walpole Sealy Vidal, who from 1892 was Robert Walpole Sealy was a prominent 19th century footballer who featured in the first three FA Cup Finals for two different clubs. In March 1870 he played in the first ever international football match, which took place at Kennington Oval, London. He represented England again in 1871.
The 1877 FA Cup Final was a football match between Wanderers and Oxford University on 24 March 1877 at Kennington Oval in London. It was the sixth final of the world's oldest football competition, the Football Association Challenge Cup. Wanderers were the reigning cup-holders and had won the competition three times in total. Oxford had also previously won the tournament, making this the first FA Cup Final played between two former winners. Wanderers had reached the final without conceding a goal, defeating Cambridge University in the semi-finals. Oxford had only played three matches in the five rounds prior to the final due to a combination of byes and opponents withdrawing.
The 1876 FA Cup Final was a football match between Wanderers and Old Etonians on 11 March 1876 at Kennington Oval in London. It was the fifth final of the world's oldest football competition, the Football Association Challenge Cup. Wanderers had won the Cup on two previous occasions. The Etonians were playing in their second consecutive final, having lost in the 1875 final. Both teams had conceded only one goal in the four rounds prior to the final. In the semi-finals Wanderers defeated Swifts and the Etonians beat the 1874 FA Cup winners Oxford University.
The 1878 FA Cup Final was a football match between Wanderers and Royal Engineers on 23 March 1878 at Kennington Oval in London. It was the seventh final of the world's oldest football competition, the Football Association Challenge Cup. Wanderers had won the Cup in the previous two seasons and on four previous occasions in total, including the first FA Cup Final, in 1872, in which they defeated the Engineers. The Engineers had also won the Cup, having defeated Old Etonians in the 1875 final.
Albert Childers Meysey-Thompson was an English barrister and an amateur footballer who played for Wanderers in the 1872 FA Cup Final and for Old Etonians in the 1875 and 1876 FA Cup Finals.
George Hubert Hugh Heron was an English footballer who made five appearances as a forward for England in the 1870s and won three FA Cup winners' medals.
Alfred George Goodwyn was an English Royal Engineer, who represented his regiment at football. He was a member of the Regiment's team that was defeated in the very first FA Cup final. He also represented England in the second international football match against Scotland in 1873.
The 1874–75 FA Cup was the fourth season of England's oldest football tournament, the Football Association Challenge Cup or "FA Cup". 29 teams entered, one more than the previous season, although four of the 29 never played a match. The final was contested by Royal Engineers – playing in their third final in the four seasons of the FA Cup – and Old Etonians – playing in their first final. On their way to the final, Royal Engineers knocked out Cambridge University in the Second Round and holders Oxford University in the Semi-finals, while Old Etonians only managed to score more than one goal in one match: their second replay against Swifts, which they won 3–0. The biggest win of the competition was recorded by two-time FA Cup winners Wanderers, who beat Farningham 16–0 in the First Round.
Francis Hornby Birley was an English footballer who played as a half back. He won the FA Cup three times in the 1870s and made two appearances for England in 1874 and 1875.
Thomas Charles Hooman was a leading English association football player of the Victorian era. He played for Wanderers in the 1872 FA Cup Final and was also chosen to represent England on several occasions.
Harrow Chequers Football Club was a football club from London, England in the 1860s to early 1890s. It played as the Harrow Chequers from 1865 to 1876, when it was then renamed the Old Harrovians, and continued play until at least 1891. Derived from former pupils of Harrow School, the club was involved in the formation of the FA Cup in 1871. It was slated to play in three of the first six FA Cup competitions in the 1870s, but they forfeited each time, and never contested an FA Cup match as the Chequers. One of their players, however, Morton Betts, is remembered for scoring the first goal in the first ever FA Cup Final in 1872, which is essentially all that is remembered today of the club. However, as the Old Harrovians, the team had some more success, including reaching the semifinals of the 1877–78 FA Cup.
William Parry Crake, sometimes known as William Parry, was an English amateur footballer who won the inaugural F.A. Cup with the Wanderers in 1872 and played for the English XI against Scotland in the representative matches between 1870 and 1872. By profession, he was a merchant in India.
Colonel William Merriman was a British officer in the Royal Engineers who played as a goalkeeper in three FA Cup Finals, winning the cup in 1875.
Col. Edmund William Creswell was a British soldier, who played for the Royal Engineers in the 1872 FA Cup Final. As a soldier, he was engaged mainly in administrative work and never saw active service.