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From the Archives: McGregor's war dance after win over West Brom

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From the Archives: McGregor's war dance after win over West Brom


West Brom will be installed as favourites with the bookies this weekend ahead of the encounter with Villa - just as they were for the first FA Cup final meeting between the two clubs in 1887.

Villa's FA Cup run that season exploded into life with a 13-0 first-round win against Wednesbury Old Athletic - still the club's record cup victory - followed by a 6-1 win over Derby Midland to take Villa to a third round tie at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The game ended 2-2 and when the replay also finished all-square at one-goal each, Villa were unhappy with an FA decision that the second replay should also take place at the Wolves ground.

Nevertheless they gained another draw - this time 3-3 - and a third replay took place at Perry Barr. Prior to the game the Villa team underwent special training and Freddie Dawson settled any nerves when he put the home side in front inside 10 minutes. A second goal from Archie Hunter put Villa through on a 2-0 scoreline.

A bye in round four and an easy 5-0 win over Horncastle brought a strong Darwen side to Perry Barr for the quarter-final.

Villa were three-up by half-time, at which point champagne was produced and the players were invited to drink. What effect this had is difficult to say but Darwen quickly pulled two goals back before Villa held on to reach the semi-finals for the first time.

Glasgow Rangers, Preston North End and West Bromwich Albion joined Villa in the last four, with Villa being drawn against Rangers at Crewe.

It was a game spoken of by many spectators as the finest they have witnessed.

Rangers, strengthened by players from other Scottish sides, comprised practically a Scottish representative team.

But Villa arrived in Crewe straight from a week's training at Holt Fleet and within 10 minutes Hunter gave them the lead.

Rangers equalised but Hunter restored the advantage in the second half before Albert Brown made the game safe at 3-1.

Old Fogey wrote: "I have seen Villa play hundreds of times but have never witnessed such dazzling passing and beautiful combination as they displayed that afternoon much to the great chagrin of the wee-dram intoxicated Scottish supporters who had expected their favourites to win handsomely."

William McGregor and the father of Howard Vaughton joined hands and did a whirling circle of honour for the occasion.

There was more merriment on display when they found out the opponents in the final would be Albion.

Captain Hunter said: "The victory of the Albion over Preston was unexpected. We had fully counted on playing North End in the final and it had remained one of the most startling surprises recorded in the history of football how Albion managed to beat them."

He also added: "On returning from Crewe, we were received at every station with cheers in which even the railway officials joined and at one point a signalman was observed to be making vigorous demonstration in his lofty box."

Villa returned to Holt Fleet for training the week before the final while Albion made Ascot their training headquarters.

After the unexpected win against Preston, Albion were made clear favourites to win this first all-Midlands final.

Old Fogey said: "Nearly every football critic in the kingdom tipped the Albion to be successful. On paper form it looked odds-on the Throstles. There were various rumours that the Albion folk had made arrangements that the cup should not even come through Birmingham on its way to West Bromwich."

There was no score at the interval on a "sunny and beautiful day" but 10 minutes after the break Hunter and Richmond Davis combined to supply Dennis Hodgetts, who drove his shot past Bob Roberts to put Villa 1-0 up.

One Villa committee member, Albert Albutt, shouted over to McGregor after the first goal: "Now then Mac, pull off your tile and yell." The cautious Scot replied: "It's no time yet. Wait a wee. They'll get another goal. Then we'll shout."

But Albion seemed to lose heart after the first goal and Hunter scored a second goal after 88 minutes to become the first Villa captain to lift the FA Cup.

According to the Villa News & Record, after the second goal: "The Villa supporters let themselves go in the most reckless style."

McGregor "made the welkin ring with the McGregor war-whoop, threw his bonnet in the air and danced about over a lot of imaginary swords."

Such was the euphoria on the final whistle that another committee member 'Mar' Margoschis was reported to have "stood on his head and poised a football on his feet for several minutes."

Telegrams posted in McGregor's shop window in Summer Lane kept a vast crowd informed of Villa's progress in the final, which brought the FA Cup to Birmingham for the first time.

Villa decided to leave London for Birmingham at midnight following their final win.

They arrived at New Street Station at 3.30am and "what a sight met our eyes" said Hunter. 

The platforms were crowded and as they steamed into the station a band struck up jubilant strains of 'See The Conquering Hero Comes.'

The players could scarcely get out of the carriage for the crowd that surged round and the "deafening cheers which resounded through the station produced a sensation which will never be forgotten by any of us."

Albion supporters were terribly upset. A report surfaced that Black Country people had sold their pigs and their household goods to back their team and defeat affected them so badly that they were obliged to go without their Sunday dinner.

Let's hope the Baggies fans are pig-sick on Sunday this time!

Make sure you pick up tickets for Newcastle.


AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 15th January 2013
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