The 1931 FA Cup Final was a football match between West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham, played on 25 April 1931 at the original Wembley Stadium in London. The showpiece event was the final match of the 1930–31 staging of English football's primary cup competition, the Football Association Challenge Cup (better known as the FA Cup). The match was the 56th FA Cup Final, the ninth to be played at Wembley.
West Bromwich Albion were appearing in their seventh final, having won the cup on two previous occasions, whereas Birmingham were playing in the final for the first time. Albion won the match 2–1, with both of their goals scored by W. G. Richardson. Joe Bradford had equalised Richardson's opening goal, before Richardson put the Baggies ahead again sixty seconds later.
|1931 FA Cup Final|
The Albion team display the FA Cup at Paddington Station after their victory in the final.
|Event||1930–31 FA Cup|
|Date||25 April 1931|
|Venue||Wembley Stadium, London|
|Referee||Arthur H. Kingscott (Derbyshire)|
|3rd||Charlton Athletic (h)||2–2|
|Charlton Athletic (a)||1–1|
|Charlton Athletic (n)||3–1|
|4th||Tottenham Hotspur (h)||1–0|
|6th||Wolverhampton Wanderers (h)||1–1|
|Wolverhampton Wanderers (a)||2–1|
Albion began their cup campaign by drawing 2–2 at home against Charlton Athletic, with goals from Stan Wood and Teddy Sandford. The replay at The Valley also ended in a draw (1–1), and with extra time unable to separate the teams, a second replay was required at Villa Park, where goals from Joe Carter, Stan Wood and W. G. Richardson gave Albion a 3–1 victory. Wood also scored the only goal of the game in round four against Tottenham Hotspur to set up a fifth round tie with First Division Portsmouth, the only top division side that Albion faced en route to Wembley; W. G. Richardson's goal was enough to give Albion a 1–0 victory. The quarter-final stage saw Albion paired with local rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers, whom they had already beaten both home and away during the league season. After a 1–1 draw at The Hawthorns, Albion won the replay at Molineux 2–1, thanks to goals from W. G. Richardson and Stan Wood.
In the semi-final at Old Trafford, Albion faced Everton, who at that time were 13 points clear at the top of the Second Division. Everton dominated the first half but were unable to score from any of the chances they created, and it was Albion who broke the deadlock ten minutes into the second half. Albion captain Tommy Glidden played the ball into the Everton penalty area from near the halfway line, and aided by a gust of wind it sailed past Everton goalkeeper Billy Coggins and into the net. The match was played in front of 69,241 spectators, setting a new attendance record for Old Trafford.
|4th||Port Vale (h)||2–0|
In the third round, Birmingham "won finely" at Anfield to defeat First Division opponents Liverpool 2–0, with goals from Ernie Curtis and Joe Bradford. In the fourth, they repeated the scoreline at home to Port Vale of the Second Division, both goals scored by Bradford, and went one better in the fifth, Bradford scoring once and Curtis, "in magnificent form", twice to eliminate Third Division South club Watford.
Chelsea provided stiffer opposition for the Birmingham team, a number of whose players were still recovering from influenza, on a St Andrew's pitch treacherous after overnight sleet. The visitors had much the better of the first half. Alex Jackson gave them the lead, and, in blizzard conditions, George Mills appeared to have scored in a goalmouth scramble, only for the goal to be disallowed after the Birmingham players drew the referee's attention to his linesman who had flagged for the ball having gone out of play. Six minutes into the second half, the lead had changed hands. First George Briggs crossed for a Bradford header, then the same pair combined for Curtis to put Birmingham ahead. Birmingham's defence held out until a misplaced clearance by Bob Gregg allowed Jackie Crawford to equalise. The replay at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge attracted a crowd of 74,365, then a ground record, with 6,000 locked out; spectators broke through the barriers and sat round the edge of the pitch. Briggs, in front of an empty goal, allowed a centre from Curtis to pass between his legs – "an amazing miss" – before Chelsea centre-half John Townrow sustained an injury which forced him to leave the field. Chelsea reorganised their personnel, but early in the second half, right-half Sid Bishop was hurt twice in quick succession, leaving him in a worse condition than Townrow and his team short of numbers – no substitutes were permitted – with players in unaccustomed positions. Though they held out well, a goal from Jack Firth and two from Bradford, the second of which scored from an offside position, gave Birmingham a 3–0 victory.
Birmingham faced First Division Sunderland in the semi-final at Elland Road, Leeds. The Times predicted a "hard game" in which "the first goal ... may decide the result". After half an hour Birmingham took the lead via a powerful shot by Curtis. Sunderland's players appealed in vain for the award of a penalty for handling the ball, their forwards failed to take numerous chances, and Birmingham's England international goalkeeper Harry Hibbs – described by Sunderland's Bobby Gurney as playing "an absolute blinder" – made some fine saves. With three minutes left, Curtis's shot from a Bradford cross was blocked by Sunderland's goalkeeper, Bradford "rushed in to help his colleague and between them they scored the second goal".
Demand for cup final tickets far exceeded supply. West Bromwich Albion received 80,000 ticket applications from supporters but their allocation was only 7,500. Those who were successful travelled to Wembley on one of several excursion trains along the GWR and LMS routes, or else by road.
In the days leading up to the final, both teams made use of mid-week games to test players who were doubtful due to injury. Following Birmingham's reserve match against Huddersfield Town's reserves, George Briggs and Jimmy Cringan were pronounced fit to play in the final, but centre forward Joe Bradford's fitness was not decided until the Thursday morning. An injured knee had kept Bradford out of action since mid-March, and he played with the knee well bandaged during the match, which was played in front of "about 12,000" spectators at St Andrew's. Full back Bert Trentham was a doubt for Albion, but came through the first half of their friendly against Headingly "quite satisfactorily". The Birmingham team prepared for the final at Bushey, while the West Bromwich Albion team were based in Harrow. Both teams visited The Cenotaph in the week before the final, in order to lay wreaths.
The clubs had met in the FA Cup on four previous occasions, with Albion victorious each time. The first meeting of the two teams in the competition was in the 1885–86 semi-final, which was the furthest that Birmingham had progressed prior to their first FA Cup final in 1931. Neither club had played a match at Wembley before, though Albion had experienced success in the FA Cup, having appeared in the final on six previous occasions and having won the cup twice, in 1888 and 1892. The two goalkeepers for the 1931 final, Harold Pearson and Harry Hibbs, were cousins. Pearson's father and Hibbs' uncle, Hubert Pearson, had kept goal for Albion during their last appearance in the final in 1912. Birmingham outside forward Ernie Curtis had already gained a cup winners medal with Cardiff City in 1927, while the club's trainer Archie Taylor had played in the Barnsley team that defeated West Bromwich Albion in the 1912 final.
Typical of the era was that the final had little effect on the weekend's Football League fixtures. Although the scheduled league matches of both finalists had been postponed, there were still nine First Division games and ten Second Division games played on the day of the final, as well as a full programme of matches in the Third Division North and South.
Both teams employed the formation typical of the era: two full backs, three half backs, comprising one centre-half and two wing-halves, and five forwards, comprising two outside forwards, two inside forwards and a centre-forward.
In the sixth minute, Bob Gregg headed Jimmy Cringan's free kick past the stranded West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper, but the linesman flagged Gregg offside and the goal was disallowed; newspaper reports suggest the decision was incorrect. Albion took the lead after 24 minutes when Joe Carter received the ball from Tommy Glidden and took it almost to the by-line before crossing it. As W. G. Richardson attempted a shot he fell, but Birmingham's Ned Barkas inadvertently touched the ball back to him and away from his goalkeeper, and Richardson was able to recover sufficiently to steer it home. Joe Bradford and Johnny Crosbie both missed good chances for Birmingham before half-time.
In the second half, after Albion had failed to take several chances, Birmingham equalised. Bradford controlled a long ball, pivoted and shot past Pearson from 25 yards. But the lead did not last. Straight from the restart, Carter, W. G. Richardson and Teddy Sandford took the ball directly down the field. George Liddell sliced his attempted clearance, which left the ball at Richardson's feet, and the forward had an easy task to beat Hibbs from close range.
|West Bromwich Albion||2–1||Birmingham|
|W. G. Richardson 25', 58'||(Report)||Bradford 57'|
|West Bromwich Albion:||Birmingham:|
West Bromwich Albion
|Full-back||George Shaw||Full-back||George Liddell|
|Full-back||Bert Trentham||Full-back||Ned Barkas (c)|
|Half-back||Tommy Magee||Half-back||Jimmy Cringan|
|Half-back||Bill Richardson||Half-back||George Morrall|
|Half-back||Jimmy Edwards||Half-back||Alec Leslie|
|Forward||Tommy Glidden (c)||Forward||George Briggs|
|Forward||Joe Carter||Match rules:||Forward||Johnny Crosbie|
|Forward||W. G. Richardson||90 minutes normal time.||Forward||Joe Bradford|
|Forward||Teddy Sandford||30 minutes extra-time if scores are level.||Forward||Bob Gregg|
|Forward||Stan Wood||Replay if scores still level.||Forward||Ernie Curtis|
|Secretary-manager||Fred Everiss||Manager||Leslie Knighton|
The match was reported in that evening's Sports Argus, which was produced in a special run on blue paper in place of the normal pink. Copies of the newspaper were flown down to the London hotels of both teams after the match.
Birmingham's players, together with their wives, club officials, civic representatives and survivors of the 1886 semi-final, attended a dinner at the Russell Hotel after the match. Speaking afterwards, Archie Taylor admitted that the better side had won, that Albion set out to play the game properly, and that "our boys never settled down; they found the ball red-hot and could not hold it". The following day players and wives took a coach trip to the seaside at Brighton, and on Monday afternoon returned to Birmingham by train, to be met by the Lord Mayor and by cheering crowds lining the roads from the station up to the Council House. Albion's players visited Madame Tussauds, where waxworks of the two captains were on display, and some took their wives shopping, before taking the train home.
Trains arrived from London every quarter-hour until 5 a.m., to be met by buses which ran all night to various parts of the city, to make the journey home as easy as possible for the estimated 28,000 travelling supporters. The Birmingham Mail was impressed by their behaviour: "in a great local clash, in which one set of supporters had necessarily to face disappointment, there appeared to be no frayed tempers and little evidence of over-indulgence." The Mail's editorial highlighted the Birmingham players' reaction to the disallowed goal as illustrative of the sportsmanship of both sets of players: "there was no swarming round the official in the clamorous and excited manner so often seen in League games, but just a quiet and philosophic acceptance of the ruling and the position."
In the week following their victory in the final, West Bromwich Albion still had two remaining league fixtures to complete. They beat Stoke City 1–0 away in mid-week before a 3–2 win at home to Charlton Athletic on the following Saturday confirmed the club's promotion to the First Division. The "double" of winning the FA Cup and promotion in the same season has not been achieved before or since.
This would be the last time the FA Cup was won by a team from outside the top flight of English football until 42 years later when Sunderland beat Leeds in the 1973 FA Cup Final.
Teddy Stanford, who played on the winning side, is believed to have been the last surviving player from the game when he died in May 1995 at the age of 84, six months after the death of 86-year-old goalkeeper Harold Pearson, who himself was believed to have been the oldest surviving former England international at the time of his death, having won his solitary England cap in 1932.
Alfred James Leslie (11 July 1900 – 1 February 1961), known as Alec Leslie, was a Scottish professional footballer who played as a left half. Born in Greenock, Leslie was an influential defensive midfielder who played 143 games for Birmingham, including 132 top flight League games and an appearance at Wembley in the 1931 FA Cup Final. A niggling knee injury disrupted his career; he played his last game for Birmingham in September 1931 before finally retiring in 1932. After football, he ran a pub and worked for the Inland Revenue. He died in Birmingham, aged 60.Arthur Kingscott
Arthur Kingscott (21 Jan 1864 – 19 June 1937) was a footballing personality from Derbyshire at the turn of the 20th century. He was from New Sawley, Long Eaton in Derbyshire England, later serving as a treasurer at the Football Association. There is an unconfirmed report in Caxton's 'Association Football' (1960) that Kingscott played a hand in the discovery of Steve Bloomer before his first game with Derby County.Bert Trentham
Herbert Francis "Bert" Trentham (22 April 1908 – June 1979) was an English footballer who
played as a full back. He was nicknamed "Corker".Bill Richardson (footballer, born 1908)
William "Bill" Richardson (14 February 1908 – August 1985) was an English footballer who played as a centre half.Bob Gregg
Robert Edmond Gregg (4 February 1904 – 1991) was an English professional footballer who played as an inside forward. He played for Darlington, Sheffield Wednesday, Birmingham and Chelsea in the Football League, making nearly 200 appearances in total.Having scored at a goal every two games for Darlington, Gregg joined Sheffield Wednesday before the 1928–29 season, and contributed to them winning that year's First Division championship. The following season, he lost his place to the high-scoring Harry Burgess, and in January 1931 he joined Birmingham for a fee of £2,200. He played his part in that season's FA Cup campaign, and "scored" a goal in the 1931 FA Cup Final which was disallowed for offside. He moved on to Chelsea in September 1933 for a fee of £1,500, finishing his career with Boston United in the Midland League and with Sligo Rovers in Ireland during the Second World War.Gregg also made 1 WW2 Guest appearance for Clapton Orient on 26 August 1944, played at Fratton Park against Portsmouth, a 5-1 defeat, before a 10 000 crowd. a report on the match in a local Portsmouth paper stated that Gregg had a shot on six minutes which was saved by the Pompey goalkeeper Harry Walker. In November 1945 he was stationed at the Colchester Garrison and he made 3 appearances for then Southern League side Colchester United, his debut came at the age of 41 years and 272 days in the FA Cup against Wisbech Town. Gregg died in Hounslow, London during May 1991, aged 87. Source: Neilson N. Kaufman, honorary historian, Leyton Orient FC.George Briggs (footballer)
George Richard Briggs (3 May 1903 – after 1936) was an English professional footballer who played in the Football League as a forward or outside right for Birmingham and Plymouth Argyle.
Formerly a coal-miner, Briggs joined First Division Birmingham from Midland League Denaby United in December 1923. In 1924–25, his first full season at the club, he was joint top scorer. He was used in all forward positions before settling as an outside-right, the position in which he played in the 1931 FA Cup Final defeat. In all he made 324 appearances for Birmingham and scored 107 goals, which ranks him fourth in the club's all-time top scorers table. In 1933 he moved to Plymouth Argyle, where he spent three seasons.
He was twice called up as reserve to the England team, in 1926 and 1928, but never played.He died in his native Yorkshire.George Liddell
George Liddell (14 July 1895 – after 1962) was an English professional association football player and manager.George Morrall
George Richard Morrall (4 October 1905 – 15 November 1955) was an English professional footballer who played as a centre half. Born in Smethwick, Staffordshire, Morrall made 266 senior appearances for Birmingham, which included 243 top-flight League matches and the 1931 FA Cup Final at Wembley. He was a dominant defender, good both in the air and on the ground, and a fierce tackler. He went on to make more than 100 appearances for Third Division South club Swindon Town. Morrall died in Birmingham aged 50.Harold Pearson (footballer, born 1908)
Harold Frederick Pearson (7 May 1908 – 2 November 1994) was an English footballer who played as a goalkeeper.Harry Kingscott
Arthur Henry "Harry" Kingscott (2 March 1890 – 17 November 1956) was the referee of the 1931 FA Cup Final and son of Arthur Kingscott, twice a Cup Final referee himself and FA Treasurer at the time of his son's appointment.
Harry Kingscott was an international referee taking charge of the Wales v Scotland Home International played at Wrexham in 1927 as well as the return fixture the following year in Glasgow.He was on the Football League list from 1921 until 1933.
From "The Football Who's Who" edited by Frank Johnston (1935):
A. H. Kingscott needs no introduction to Derbyshire football fans. In fact, he needs no introduction to football followers in any part of the British Isles, for on April 25, 1931, Mr Kingscott was in charge of the FA Cup Final at Wembley. Thus, in realising the ambition which every referee must cherish,Mr Kingscott created a remarkable record - he had followed right in his father's footsteps as a Cup Final referee. Mr A. G. Kingscott had held the reins in 1900 and 1901. "AH", a Long Eaton man, born and bred, was a keen footballer himself, and played for 15 years, mainly with Sawley United and the 7th Hussars (in India) before embarking on his career as referee. In 1920, he was placed on the linesmen's list of the Football League and acted as linesman at the FA Cup Final of 1925. His big chance came when he was acting as linesman in the match, Sheffield Wednesday v. Bristol City. Just before half-time the referee became too ill to continue. Mr. Kingscott stepped into the breach and conducted the game in such fine style that shortly afterwards his name appeared on the referees' list. Apart from the Cup Final of 1931, the following games stand out among the high spots of his brilliant career: two FA Cup semi-finals; Holland v. Uruguay; Spain v. Italy; France v. Spain; Belgium v. Holland (twice) and the Amateur Cup Final of 1923.Jimmy Cringan
James Anderson Cringan (16 December 1904 – 1972) was a Scottish professional footballer born in Douglas Water, South Lanarkshire, who played as a wing half. He played 285 games in all competitions for Birmingham, including 261 Football League First Division games and an appearance at Wembley in the 1931 FA Cup Final, before trying his hand at management. He was the younger brother of Willie Cringan, captain of Celtic and Scotland.
He began his managerial career as player-manager at Midland League club Boston United, before becoming Banbury Spencer manager in 1936, a position he held until retiring in 1961.Cringan died in 1972.Joe Bradford
Joseph Bradford (22 January 1901 – 6 September 1980) was an English professional footballer who played as a centre forward. Born in Peggs Green, near Coalville, Leicestershire, Bradford made nearly 450 appearances for Birmingham City in all competitions, scoring 267 goals. He was capped 12 times for England, scoring seven goals, and played five times for a representative Football League XI.He is Birmingham's all-time leading goalscorer. He topped the club's scoring charts in all but one First Division season between 1921–22 and 1932–33, and if goals in all competitions are counted, he was top scorer in all twelve of those seasons. Bradford also scored Birmingham's only goal of the 1931 FA Cup Final, in which they were beaten by West Bromwich Albion.He died in Birmingham aged 79.Johnny Crosbie
John Anderson Crosbie (3 June 1896 – 1 February 1982) was a Scottish professional footballer, who played as an inside forward in the Scottish Football League for Ayr United and made more than 400 appearances in the Football League for Birmingham. He was capped twice for the Scotland national football team.Leslie Knighton
Albert Leslie Knighton (15 March 1887 – 10 May 1959) was an English football manager. He managed Arsenal, Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic, BirminghamChelsea and Shrewsbury Town.Stan Wood
Stanley "Stan" Wood (1 July 1905 – 17 February 1967) was an English footballer who played as an outside left. During his professional career he represented West Bromwich Albion and Halifax Town.Teddy Sandford
Edward Albert Sandford (22 October 1910 – 13 May 1995) was an English footballer who played as an inside forward. During his professional career from 1930 to 1943 he represented West Bromwich Albion, Sheffield United, Morris Commercial and the England national football team.Tommy Glidden
Thomas William Glidden (20 July 1902 – 10 July 1974) was an English footballer who played at outside-right. He captained West Bromwich Albion to victory in the 1931 FA Cup Final, with the team also winning promotion to Division One in the same season.Tommy Magee
Thomas Patrick Magee (6 May 1899 – May 1974) was an English professional footballer who played as a wing half. He made more than 400 appearances during his 15 years at West Bromwich Albion. He also won five England caps.W. G. Richardson
William "Ginger" Richardson (29 May 1909 – 29 March 1959) often referred to as W.G. Richardson and by the nickname 'Ginger' to avoid confusion with teammate Bill Richardson, was an English professional footballer, who played as a centre forward.
He scored four goals in five minutes for West Bromwich Albion against West Ham United at Upton Park on 7 November 1931, a record that is still in Guinness World Records.He scored both of West Brom's goals when they won the 1931 FA Cup Final, beating Midlands rivals Birmingham 2–1.In the 1935-36 season, he scored 39 goals, which is still the West Brom record for top scorer in the top division of the English football league system. Richardson was the nephew of English cricketer, Tom Richardson.
In 2004, he was named as one of West Bromwich Albion's 16 greatest players, in a poll organised as part of the club's 125th anniversary celebrations.
West Bromwich Albion F.C. matches
|FA Cup Finals|
|League Cup Finals|
|FA Charity Shields|
|Football League play-off Finals|
Birmingham City F.C. matches
|FA Cup Finals|
|League Cup Finals|
|Football League Trophy Finals|
|Football League play-off Final|
|Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Finals|
|Related to national team|