FA CUP 1871-72



Winners: Wanderers

Runners-up: Royal Engineers


First round
11 November 1871Barnes2-0Civil Service 
 Dunnage, P. Watson     
11 November 1871Crystal Palace0-0HitchinBoth teams qualified for next round
11 November 1871Maidenhead2-0Great Marlow 
 Young 2     
11 November 1871Upton Park0-3Clapham Rovers 
     Kenrick 2, Thompson 
walkoverRoyal Engineers   Reigate Prioryscratched
walkoverWanderers   Harrow Chequersscratched
ByeDonington School     
ByeHampstead Heathens     
ByeQueen's Park     
Second round
16 December 1871Clapham Rovers0-1Wanderers 
16 December 1871Crystal Palace3-0Maidenhead 
 Bouch, Chenery, Lloyd     
23 December 1871Barnes1-1Hampstead Heathens 
 AC Highton   Barker 
10 January 1872Hitchin0-5Royal Engineers 
     not known 
walkoverQueen's Park   Donington Schoolscratched
6 January 1872Hampstead Heathens1-0Barnes 
20 January 1872Wanderers0-0Crystal PalaceBoth teams qualified for next round
27 January 1872Royal Engineers2-0Hampstead Heathens 
 not known     
ByeQueen's Park     
17 February 1872Crystal Palace0-0Royal EngineersPlayed at Kennington Oval, London
5 March 1872Wanderers0-0Queen's ParkPlayed at Kennington Oval, London
9 March 1872Royal Engineers3-0Crystal PalacePlayed at Kennington Oval, London
 Renny-Tailyour 2, Mitchell     
WalkoverWanderers   Queen's Parkscratched
16 March 1872Wanderers1-0Royal EngineersPlayed at Kennington Oval, London
2,000MP Betts (15)     
 Team   Team 

GK: Reginald Courtenay Welch

FB: Edgar Lubbock

HB: Albert Thompson

FW: C.W. Alcock

FW: Edward Bowen

FW: Alexander Bonsor

FW: Morton Betts

FW: William Crake

FW: Thomas Hooman

FW: Robert Vidal

FW: Charles Wollaston


GK: Capt. William Merriman

FB: Capt. Francis Marindin

FB: Lieut. George Addison

HB: Lieut. Alfred Goodwyn

FW: Lieut. Hugh Mitchell

FW: Lieut. Edmund Cresswell

FW: Lieut. Henry Renny-Tailyour

FW: Lieut. Henry Rich

FW: Lieut. Herbert Muirhead

FW: Lieut. Edmund Cotter

FW: Lieut. Adam Bogle


Alfred Stair (Upton Park)

Assistant Referees:

JH Giffard

K Kirkpatrick


Match Summary

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 Robert 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".


Post Match

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.