On 16 March 1872, fewer than 2,000 people attended the first FA Cup final at the Oval. The Wanderers won 1-0. In 2022, the Football Association will celebrate the 150-year history of the first FA Cup final. Although it will not be the actual 150th final (due to years lost from the war), this season’s final and celebration will be held at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, 14 May 2022.
When the Football Association had just thirty clubs in membership, the Secretary and Wanderers captain, Charles Alcock, proposed starting the knockout competition. Soccer at this time was more of a recreation for a few public schoolboys than a national sport as it is today.
The Royal Engineers were a more defensive side going into the first FA Cup final with three backs instead of two than the Wanderers. Captain Francis Marindin led the team. Leading up to the first Final of the FA Cup, they were considered favorites.
Two Powerful Teams
The Wanderers and the Royal Engineers were the two clubs left to contend for the 1872 FA Cup trophy. There was no doubt that these were the two most powerful teams playing Association Rules. As a result, football fans and partisans of both sides expected an intense buzz to the match.
In a few minutes after three o’clock, the ball was set in motion by the Engineers. There were many fashionable people in attendance. However, there were fewer spectators than expected, perhaps because admission was so expensive.
The toss of the coin for the first FA Cup final was won by the captain of the Wanderers, who decided which direction to kick. With the assistance of the wind and the mighty sun at their backs, his side gained an early advantage.
Early Pressure In First FA Cup Final
The Wanderers got to work immediately, showing extraordinary determination. They played forward with a higher level of cooperation than usual, and their backup support was better than anything they had shown this season.
During the first quarter-hour, they besieged the Sappers closely thanks to faultless kicking. The crowd was in awe of this. Consistently, they kept attacking. A well-aimed shot by Morton Betts forced the Engineers’ goalkeeper to make a diving save early in the match.
Lieutenant Cresswell sustained a broken collarbone after 10 minutes of play and was unable to continue playing. Following a good move by Walpole Vidal, Morton Betts scored from an acute angle after 15 minutes of pressure. Despite conceding the first goal, the Royal Engineers didn’t give up any more before halftime.
Due to the goal, the teams switched ends. However, any expectations that the situation would change were unfulfilled. Even as the Wanderers were besieged by the sun and wind, they continued their attack on the Engineers. The final score was 1-0 to the Wanderers. It was very much a one-sided affair in the first FA Cup final.
Did you know that the first Women’s FA Cup Final was held in 1971?
Facts Of The First FA Cup Final
Wanderers Line Up
Alexander Bonsor, Charles Wollaston, Reginald Courtenay Welch, Walpole Vidal, Edgar Lubbock, Thomas Hooman, Albert Thompson, William Crake, Charles Alcock (winning captain), Morton Betts, Ireland Edward Bowen,
Royal Engineers Line Up
Lieut. Edmund Creswell, Lieut. Adam Bogle, Capt. William Merriman, Lieut. Edmond Cotter, Capt. Francis Marindin, Lieut. Herbert Muirhead, Lieut. George Addison, Lieut. Henry Rich, Lieut. Alfred Goodwyn, Scotland Lieut. Henry Renny-Tailyour, Lieut. Hugh Mitchell
The First FA Cup Final was played at Kennington Oval on Saturday 16 March 1872.
Kick-Off: 3 pm
Match Referee: A. Stair (Upton Park)
The Wanderers went on to win 5 FA Cups in their history. (1872,1873, 1876,1877,1878). Royal Engineers lost again in 1874 and won a replay in 1975 to clinch the FA Cup for the first and only time.
Main Image: The FA