Stourbridge born inside forward Joe Bache joined Bewdley Victoria in 1898 and Stourbridge in 1899 before signing for Aston Villa for £100 in December 1900, making his Football League debut at Notts County in February 1901. He soon established a regular first team place and was part of the Aston Villa team that won the FA Cup in 1905 beating Newcastle United 2-0 at The Crystal Palace. He scored 20 goals as Aston Villa won the League Championship in 1909-10, and again won the FA Cup with Villa in 1913 when they beat Sunderland at The Crystal Palace. He was also five times a runner up in the League Championship.
A regular but not prolific goalscorer, his best goalscoring season was 1907-08 when he scored 25 goals in the campaign, finishing as Villa’s leading goalscorer for the season including all four goals in a 4-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Christmas Day 1907 and further hat-tricks against Sheffield Wednesday, Notts County and Liverpool. He was also Villa’s top scorer in 1903-04 and 1908-09 but passed 20 goals only one other time when he scored 22 goals in their 1909-10 campaign.
He won his first England cap against Wales at Fratton Park in March 1903, scoring in a 2-1 victory, and scored in all of his first four internationals, winning 7 caps for England, the last of which came against Scotland in April 1911. He also made 7 appearances for The Football League.
Bache appeared 474 times for Aston Villa and had scored a total of 184 goals at the end of his Villa career and also spent some years as club captain, making his final appearance for the club at Newcastle United at the end of April 1915 before the onset of the First World War forced the suspension of peacetime football. Bache joined the Royal Garrison Artillery during the War and went on to serve on the Western Front, where he rose to the rank of Lance-Corporal. Despite being involved in a number of actions, Bache survived the War and returned home after the 1918 Armistice to resume his playing career.
After spending 1919-20 in South Wales with Mid Rhondda where he was player-manager from June 1919, winning both the Welsh League and the Second Division of the Southern League. Bache then made a brief comeback in the Football League as player-coach of Grimsby Town, joining them in July 1920, playing five games and scoring once before his retirement. He later became a coach in Germany for four years, including a spell with Mannheim from October 1924. After returning from Germany, Bache rejoined Aston Villa as their second-team coach in August 1927 until July 1928.