Aston Villa v Newcastle United F.A. Cup Final 1905
In the Victorian era the cup final teams had often been purely the eleven players and a coach but the Edwardian era was becoming more sophisticated as both clubs brought a thirteen man squad to stay overnight in the capitol. Billy McCracken and McCombie were the unlucky Newcastle players that were informed that the team would be unchanged from the semi final while Villa had a selection problem at left back where Pearson got the nod over Wilkes. Joseph Windmill had missed the semi final replay through injury but won back his place for the final. As the teams emerged it was noticed that Villa were wearing black armbands in honour of the Lord Mayor of Birmingham who had died suddenly during the week. 101 thousand fans had arrived in glorious sunshine at the grounds with Newcastle fans, eager to see if their club could lift the first leg of the double, sporting black hats and black and white umbrellas. Villa fans laced their claret and blue umbrellas with violets in a very colourful scene.
Most commentators suggested that this final would need an early goal if it had any chance of living up to it’s billing and sure enough with just two minutes on the clock the youngest player on the pitch obliged. Pearson disposessed Albert Gosnell and worked the ball out to Albert Hall on the wing. Joe Bache caught the Newcastle defence completely flat footed as he provided the overlap for Hall before crossing for a virtually unmarked Harry Hampton, still a few days shy of his twentieth birthday, to nod past a stranded Jimmy Lawrence. “Appy Arry” the Londoners called him and it was a catch phrase that stuck with Villians fans. For years to come a Hampton goal would be met with a choir of mimicked London accents chanting “Appy Arry Ampton.” The Newcastle fans were naturally less than impressed with their sides nervy start to their first final and there was no doubt that Villa had settled the better. Villa captain Howard Spencer was the only man on the pitch who had previously played in a final, having winners medals from 1895 and the double year of 1897 but he was getting a much easier time of it in the Villa defence than he had in both previous contests. The Newcastle players gradually began to get to grips with the game and began to show the ability that would eventually clinch them the league title before the Month was out. Both sides now had half chances but midway through the first period came that golden moment that haunts losing finalists’ fans for ever. Bill Appleyard got the better of Howard Spencer and laid on an open goal for Jimmy Howie who lashed at the ball nervously and fired over the bar. Appleyard was becoming the thorn in Villa’s side and a potential match winner for United but his luck was bang out on this occasion as he watched his long range shot crash of Billy George’s left hand upright five minutes before the break. Villa had their chances too, especially when Joe Bache fired agonisingly wide in first half stoppage time but most neutrals felt that Newcastle had been the better side and at the very least deserved to be level at the interval.
The second half was not a dirty affair but the two teams knocked ten bells out of each other as Newcastle chased a deserved equaliser and Villa sought to kill the game. Joe Bache had the best early chance when he again shot agonisingly wide of Jimmy Lawrence’s goal while Lawrence himself was knocked out cold by a shoulder charge from Hampton. He wasn’t the only Newcastle casualty either as Jock Rutherford was sporting a lovely left eye shiner after an earlier clash with Freddie Miles. As in the first half Newcastle saw more of the ball but either overworked the move to allow Villa to clear or in desperation resorted to wild long range efforts that rarely troubled Billy George. Villa by contrast made the most of what possession they could get and always looked the more dangerous on the break with Jimmy Lawrence called on to be active if not forced into the outstanding. That changed with fourteen minutes left as Andy Aitkin’s clearance was intercepted by Albert Hall who cracked a long range drive that looked destined for Jimmy Lawrence’s bottom left hand corner. Lawrence made a fantastic save but to his despair his defenders were slow to react and Harry Hampton nipped in to tuck home the rebound from close range with the keeper stranded. It was harsh on Lawrence who hadn’t put a foot wrong all day while Newcastle’s midfield had done their job in outgunning Villa’s only for both the forward and back line to lose them the cup. Villa meanwhile had been better as a unit and deserved their fourth cup win in the end with Billy Garraty just shading the teenage double scorer in the press as the man of the match. It is Harry Hampton, the rampaging teenager who is remembered by Villa fans as the man who denied Newcastle the double and he went on to be a hero of Villa Park for the next ten years until his career was brought to an end when he was gassed during World War one. Hampton survived but his footballing days were over. Newcastle’s fans would grow to hate the Crystal Palace during the coming decade but their revenge over Villa would be sweet at Wembley nineteen years later.