ASTON VILLA's WARTIME LEAGUE CUP FINAL WIN!
Football League (North) Cup Final 2nd leg, 6th May 1944, at Villa Park.
Aston Villa 4 Blackpool 2 (5-4 aggregate)
ONE of the greatest wartime matches involving Aston Villa was the Football League North Cup Final, played over two legs at the end of the 1943-44 season.
The first leg had been played at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool, on 29 April, and although Villa had made the Seasiders look 'pedestrian and ordinary' according to one report, they lost the contest 2-1. Billy Goffin scored for Villa on 50 minutes, but two late goals (82 and 87 minutes) by centre-forward Dodds, edged Blackpool ahead by the end of the first leg.
Long before the start of the return leg at Villa Park, the attendance limit of 50,000, set by the police, had been reached. Thousands were locked outside. Some climbed over the walls and perched on the stands, while others clambered on top of surrounding buildings, just to get a look at the ball when it was kicked into the air.
Villa began the match in superb style and Blackpool's precious one-goal lead vanished after only 29 seconds. That's how long it took Bob Iverson to centre for Frankie Broome to head past goalkeeper Savage.
Amazingly Blackpool (including the great Stan Matthews, who was up against his party-spoiler opponent George Cummings) kicked-off and went straight into the attack. Two near misses from Dodds spelled danger, and after barely 90 seconds, the scores were level on the day. Ronnie Dix, ex-Villa, weaved his way clear to send in a fierce right-footed drive; 'Mush' Callaghan failed to get out of the way, and a wicked deflection sent the ball past Alan Wakeman.
Blackpool, now 3-2 ahead overall, were buzzing. Villa backed by their massed band of supporters, counter attacked. After ten minutes Villa scored again, through George Edwards. A long toe-poke downfield by George Cummings, was chased by the energetic Edwards, and as Savage raced out to meet him, so the Villa inside-right delightfully slipped the ball past him and into the net. The two players ended in a heap and both needed the trainers' attention.
The cheers had hardly died down when Blackpool drew level once more on the quarter-of-an-hour mark. Stan Matthews took a superb corner and Pearson pounced to crack the ball into the roof of the net from point-blank range. Four goals had been scored in 15 minutes, and there was more to come. Six minutes before the interval, Villa went ahead for the third time in the match. A scramble inside the Blackpool six-yard box, involving at least six players, resulted in the ball nestling into the net, put there by Bob Iverson. At half-time it was 4-4 on aggregate. And that soon became 5-4 to Villa when Eric Houghton sent Broome racing away in the 47th minute. Broome beat Savage with a low drive which went into the net via an upright. Villa's sturdy defence, marshalled wonderfully by Alex Massie and Cummings, held on to lift the trophy, Villa's first Cup triumph since 1920.
It was probably also Eric Houghton's last major contribution for Villa as a player - and the only trophy that he won. When peace-time football re-started, Eric was to play only four more (league) matches before he retired.
Aston Villa's team: Wakeman; Potts, Cummings, Massie, Callaghan, Starling, Broome, Edwards, Parkes, Iverson, Houghton.
Scorers: Broome (2), Edwards, Iverson.
Blackpool's team: Savage; Pope, Kinsell, Johnston, Hayward, Jones, Matthews, Dix, Dodds, Finan, Pearson.
Scorers: Dix, Pearson.