Head-bangers at the Palace

Match action between Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion during the 1895 FA Cup Final played at Crystal Palace. The illustration which appeared in a newspaper of the time is part of the FIFA Collection kept at the National Football Museum, Manchester.

Drawn by H. M. Paget, the picture is captioned: “Just before half-time, after a fierce bully for the ball, Devey, the centre-forward of the Villa, and Higgins, the West Bromwich half-back, came violently into collision. Both of them reeled back with their hands to their heads, and, after swaying about for a moment, Higgins suddenly sat down.”

Villa beat Albion 1-0 with the only goal being credited to Bob Chatt (pictured), scored after just 30 seconds and credited as the fastest goal in FA Cup Final history. The record stood for 114 years until Louis Saha of Evertion scored a goal within 25 seconds of the start of the 2009 FA Cup Final.

Pounds, shillings and pence

Here’s an insight into the salary levels of the Aston Villa players for season 1893-94. Top earners were Willie Groves on £5 per week and Bob Chatt on £4 per week. That equates to around £600 and £500 per week in today’s reckoning. They were also paid an appearance bonus of ten shillings.

Willie Groves only lasted a season playing for Villa. He joined the club from West Bromwich Albion in 1893, the first £100 plus transfer in football. After assisting the Baggies to an FA Cup Final victory against Villa the previous season he then went on to help his new club to its first League Championship in 1894. Groves left Villa in November that year, when he was unable to agree new terms with the club and returned to Hibernian, the team he started out with in Scotland. He later moved to Celtic but soon retired from the game after contracting TB. Groves died in 1909, age 39.

Bob Chatt and Willie Groves, top earners with Aston Villa in season 1893-94.