Game #68


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Football League

Preston North End

Wellington Road, Perry Barr

Attendance: 8,000

Saturday, 21 September 1889

Jimmy Cowan scored a brace as Villa triumph over last season's invincible Champions Preston.

Aston Villa


Preston North End

Scorer(s) | Jimmy Cowan | Billy Dickson | Albert Brown | Albert Allen | Jimmy Cowan |

Assist(s) | Albert Allen | Billy Dickson |


Game #68

Season | 1889-90 |
Matchday | #3 |
League Match | #3 |
Manager Game | #42 |
Saturday, 21 September 1889


Manager | George Ramsay led Management Committee |
FT Score | 5-3 |
FT Result | Won |
Last 5 Games | LLDDW |




Preston North End

🟨 | Booking
🟥 | Sending off
💥+ | Incidents e.g. penalty awarded

💥- | Incidents e.g. penalty conceded, goal disallowed

💥 | Incidents e.g. refused clear pen

🆘 | Notably poor refereeing performance    


[Exact birth dates not recorded]

Starting XI Average Age
| 24.90 |

Oldest Player |
F Archie Hunter | 30.02 |

Youngest Player |
CB Jimmy Cowan | 20.94 |


Villa hand a debut to Sammy Gray with the season's goalscoring hero so far Dennis Hodgetts missing through injury.


Not recorded


Not recorded


George Ramsay led Management Committee



GK Jimmy Warner |
D Frank Coulton |
CB Harry Devey |
FB Albert Aldridge |
M Tom Clarkson |
F Albert Brown |
F Albert Allen |
F Archie Hunter |
F Sammy Gray |
CF Billy Dickson |


No Substitutions permitted in period


No Substitutions permitted in period


Trainor, Howarth, Holmes, Kelso, Russell, Graham, Ross jr (g), Gordon, Ross sr (g), Thompson, Drummond (g).

Secretary Manager: E H Barr.

ex: Also played for the Villa

g: Scored

s/o: Sent off

s-: Sub off; s+: Sub on


Villa record their first league win of the season at the expense of the reigning champions Preston.

Forward Sammy Gray made his Villa debut aged 21 after joining from West Bromwich United.

Jimmy Cowan scored a brace to vanquish the reigning champions, Saturday, 21 September 1889

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1’ Debut, Sammy Gray
Goal, 1-0, Jimmy Cowan, Assist by Albert Allen
Goal, 1-1, (Preston North End), Drummond
Goal, 2-1, Billy Dickson
Goal, 3-1, Albert Brown
HT Aston Villa 3-1 Preston North End
Goal, 4-1, Albert Allen, Assist by Billy Dickson
Goal, 5-1, Jimmy Cowan
Goal, 5-2, (Preston North End), Ross jr
Goal, 5-3, (Preston North End), Ross sr
FT Aston Villa 5-3 Preston North End



2021-22 Matchweek 38.jpg



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"When the teams appeared on the field they were heartily received, and showers of those verbal encouragements which excited footballers are wont to offer individual players were sent forth. Archie was requested to "play up" by one, received a similar request from another, while several players were encouraged being called " good old " men."

Villa Boy.png

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*Birmingham Daily Post*
Monday, 23 September 1889


This important League match was played at Perry Barr, in the presence of between 10,000 and 12,000 spectators.

During the early part of the afternoon a continuous stream of omnibuses, brakes, and tram-cars, interspersed with numerous cabs, conveyed thousands of enthusiastic footballers to the Aston Villa ground.

In anticipation of a somewhat similar congestion to that which occurred when the memorable Cup tie between the Villa and North End took place, the police had made arrangements for facilitating the speedy carriage of passengers, by not allowing any vehicle to stand for many minutes.

Fortunately, however, the supply of vehicles was equal to the demand, and no inconvenience caused the ordinary traffic.

Naturally the absorbing topic with the crowd, before the game commenced, was speculation on the probable result, and while some very enthusiastic supporters of the Perry Barr team were sanguine enough to prophesy a victory for their favourites, the preponderant preference was in favour of the famous Preston team.

Among the large attendance was a good sprinkling of Prestonians, who follow the fortunes and game of their favourites as steadfastly as a racing-stable sticks to a good thing on the turf.

The men from the north were confident of success, and before the game began could be heard prognosticating result of 3 to 1.

Hodgetts was the only absentee from the Villa, in consequence of the injury received at Cape Hill on Monday last; and Dewhurst was absent from the Preston side.

When the teams appeared on the field they were heartily received, and showers of those verbal encouragements which excited footballers are wont to offer individual players were sent forth.

Archie was requested to "play up" by one, and received a similar request from another, while several players were encouraged being called "good old" men.

A strong wind blew across the field towards the Wellington Road goal, and seemed likely to favour the team playing towards that point; and just before play commenced a few large spots of rain gave the impression that the afternoon would probably wet. The rain, however, kept off, and one the best games certainly on the part of the victors, that has ever been played at Perry Barr was recorded.

The coin having been spun for choice of ends, the Preston team chose to defend the uphill goal, and Hunter, who was playing in his old position, started the ball.

The home forwards quickly showed signs of dashing intentions, and getting up to goal, Allen sent the ball in, but Trainor returned it, and a run on the North End left wing followed.

From a pass by Ross jr, Dickson succeeded in getting possession, and, beating Thomson and Drummond, centred, Hunter missed the ball, which was, however, taken by Allen. Some passing followed, and the Villa forwards were able get well up, but Howarth came to the rescue and returned the ball to midfield.

Neither side seemed for a little while to be playing with anything like full force, and excepting some clever play between Gray and Dickson, and Gordon and Ross jr there was nothing exciting until Dickson got clear away and made a determined bid for goal. Hunter ran up for the centre, which was very well given, but the kick sent the leather outside. From the goal-kick Russell and Kelso endeavoured to get away, and in a scrimmage a foul was given Preston.

The Prestonians from this advantage seemed very dangerous, making a determined and combined attack on their opponents' goal. Thrice in succession was the ball got within the mouth of goal, but Cowan distinguished himself by admirably neutralising the attacks of the visitors. Ultimately, from a sharp shot by Gordon, Warner punched out and relieved the pressure on his charge.

Brown got away, and passed to Hunter, who, slipping this time, missed the ball but Dixon rushing up managed, with Gray, to get well up the left wing. Some sharp passing in the corner resulted the ball going out.

Gray, owing to the wind, failed to place the ball from the corner.

Some roughish play on the part of Preston followed, out of which the Villa obtained a free kick. The full force of the visitors was concentrated in goal. Allen took the kick for the Villa, and passed the ball to Cowan, who adroitly returned it. A second pass from Allen enabled Cowan to shoot sharply, and score the first goal for the Villa.

This was the signal for an outburst of cheering, and the hopes of the Villa supporters gained in confidence.

Immediately on restarting, the Villa forwards, mainly through Gray and Dickson, got close up and again Hunter made a promising attempt to score, but Trainor was just able to stop the ball going through, and placed it well down the field.

It became apparent, that the visitors were annoyed at the first point being so early notched against them, and more dash was imported into their tactics.

The forwards were on the ball with wonderful quickness, and their passing deserved the highest praise. For a few minutes Warner was kept very busy, and twice saved in splendid form.

When the whole of the forwards were engaged in front of goal some of the Villa players appealed for a foul, and whilst making the appeal by the usual show of hands, relaxed their efforts to prevent a score being made against them. In consequence, Drummond was able to put the ball through. An appeal was made for off-side, but was disallowed.

The danger of appealing at such critical time was never more strikingly illustrated. Had the dangerous position of the game been first removed, and the appeal then persisted in, no fault could have been found with the home team; but locking the stable door after the steed has departed is a game that does not succeed on the football field.

Nothing daunted by the unfortunate mistake, the Villa forwards on the left worked away with a surprising earnestness, and so, also, did the Prestonians. The latter were exceedingly noticeable for their accurate passing, while Gray was frequently applauded for the excellence of his dribbling and the speed put on when racing for the ball.

Either goal was visited, and ultimately Devey, after dodging his opponents, shot across the centre of goal, and some quick shots, and equally quick returns, followed. Dickson headed the ball at goal; but Trainor returned it.

A second shot was made by Dickson, and proved successful, the result being Villa, 2 goals ; North End, 1.

The satisfactory course of the game stirred up the home team to new vigour, and they restarted with a brilliant dash. The ball was returned, and for a time Warner had to use the utmost watchfulness to prevent a score. Cowan got the ball away, and a fast run transferred the heat of the game to the other end, Brown succeeding in getting up to goal. A high shot was returned by Trainor, but immediately after Brown scored the third goal for his side, the immense crowd cheering heartily as he did so.

At half-time the game stood : Aston Villa, 3 goals ; Preston North End, 1 goal.

The second half was commenced by the visitors showing more determination, and endeavouring to force the game in their wonted style; but the Villa men seemed surprisingly fresh, and replied to the attack with a vigorous and successful defence.

Gordon put in quick ball, which was well kept out Warner, who, however, had to give a corner. Nothing resulted from the kick, Coulton quickly getting the ball away.

Some good play followed in midfield from both sides. Gray and Dickson were especially busy on the left, and the last-named player made a high shot which went over the bar. The ball was soon returned into Trainor’s quarters, and some fine passing was done by the Villa forwards.

From an accurate centre by Dickson, Allen managed to put the ball through, which made the game 4 to 1 in favour of the Villa.

The North End in one or two instances showed signs of roughness in the succeeding play, but the combination of their opponents was almost invincible, and the ball was chiefly kept in the vicinity of the North End goal.

Several attempts were made, and eventually after some short and quick passing Cowan scored a fifth goal.

The ball was passed by Cowan to Coulton, who on being tackled returned it, and out of a bit of a scrimmage Cowan scored.

On restarting the North forwards raced away in something like their old form, and for the first time seemed awaken to the fact that they were opposed to no mean contestants. Ross, jr performed one the finest runs of the day and before he could be intercepted he had registered the second for his side.

Immediately the ball was again started the same tactics prevailed with the visitors, and the ball was quickly the object of Warner's close attention. Within two minutes Ross, sr had scored a third goal, and prospects did not look so rosy for the Villa. The latter's supporters called out for the team “play up" lest the visitors should after all claim the victory.

It only wanted about fifteen minutes to time, and the game became exceedingly fast.

At first it seemed likely that the North End would at last minimise the odds, but a stout defence showed that a score could only obtained by the best of play.

Towards the end the pressure of the visitors relaxed, and the Villa, who played with great judgment and dash, made repeated attacks on Trainor's charge but no further score was made, and a brilliant game ended in favour of the Aston Villa by goals 5 to 3.

The result was received with rounds of applause and cheers for the Villa, who with one or two small exceptions showed grand form throughout.

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