Each month we take a look at an
Albion ‘programme from the past’. A number of the programmes will be rarities, allowing a much wider audience to view them, perhaps for the very first time.
West Bromwich Albion v Port Vale, FA Cup Semi-Final, Villa Park, Saturday
27th March 1954
With the 60th anniversary of
Albion’s fourth FA Cup triumph
fast approaching, this month’s featured programme comes from the Baggies’
semi-final against Port Vale at
Having already disposed of Chelsea, Rotherham United,
Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur on their way to the semi-final stage,
Albion went into the game with
Third Division North side Port Vale as massive favourites.
Albion were pushing hard to become only the third team in
complete the League and FA Cup double, and at the time of the semi-final were
sitting proudly at the top of the First Division table, two points clear of
nearest challengers Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Vale, who were the Third Division North leaders, were also
having an excellent season. They boasted the best defence in the country having
conceded just 17 goals in 41 games, and with
Albion the highest scorers in
the entire Football League it promised to be an intriguing game.
The team from the Potteries, who had beaten First Division sides
Cardiff City and Blackpool in
earlier rounds, started well against Albion, more than holding their own against
the overwhelming favourites. Their robust tactics and man to man marking made it
difficult for Vic Buckingham’s men to produce their trademark flowing football
and it wasn’t a major surprise when Vale took the lead on 39 minutes through
With Vale looking comfortable it would take something
special, or fortunate, to break down their stubborn resistance and on 62 minutes
Albion had a huge slice of luck
when Jimmy Dudley swung in a cross that was missed by everyone before it flew
into the goal in at the far post.
With the scores level
Albion started to pile on the
pressure although Vale continued to defend resolutely. As with the first goal,
it was a stroke of luck that saw the Baggies net again to finally edge their
noses in front. George Lee, who had become more and more influential on the wing,
was brought down and referee Webb pointed to the spot. Film footage of the
incident later showed that the challenge was clearly outside the box but Albion,
and former Vale striker Ronnie Allen, would not waste their golden opportunity.
Although Vale had a goal disallowed for offside,
Albion finished as the stronger
side and held on to reach their ninth FA Cup final. It wasn’t all good news for
the Baggies though with Stan Rickaby, Len Millard and Frank Griffin all picking
up injuries that would see them miss the club’s next game away at Sunderland.
Albion: Heath, Rickaby, Millard,
Dudley, Dugdale, Barlow, Griffin, Ryan, Allen, Nicholls, Lee.
Port Vale: King, Turner, Potts, Mullard, Cheadle, Sproson,
Askey, Leake, Hayward,
The official 8 page programme for the game is
fairly rare nowadays although it is still seen on dealer's lists occasionally
when it normally sells for anything between £30-£50.
View the complete programme here