Birmingham born centre forward Jack Devey began his football career with Wellington Road in 1882 and played for Birmingham Excelsior in 1884, going on to play for Aston Unity in 1886, Mitchell St George’s and Aston Manor in 1887 and Birmingham St George’s in 1889, where he made his “first class” debut when he played in a First Round proper FA Cup tie against Long Eaton Rangers that February, scoring in a match St George’s won 3-2 at Cape Hill. While with St George’s he was first included in England squads, being twice a non playing reserve in March 1890.
He signed for Football League club Aston Villa in March 1891 and was again a non playing reserve for England the following month before he’d even made his Villa debut, but from the start of the next season he soon started banging in goals a plenty, scoring twice on his Football League debut in a 5-1 win over Blackburn Rovers that September, and netting seven goals in his first four games for Villa. His first hat-trick came in a 6-1 win over Burnley that December and he scored 4 times in a 12-2 thrashing of Accrington in March 1892 as he top scored for Aston Villa with 34 goals during the campaign, 5 of which were in an FA Cup run, including a double in their FA Cup semi final win over Sunderland at Bramall Lane, that saw Villa progress to the 1892 FA Cup Final, where they were beaten by local rivals West Bromwich Albion at The Kennington Oval.
His England debut had eventually come two weeks before the Final when he played in a 2-0 win over Ireland at Cliftonville Gardens, Belfast, and he was awarded a further cap in the same fixture at the same venue two years later in a match that finished a 2-2 draw. He also made 4 appearances for The Football League.
While his debut season proved to be the most prolific of his career, he was a regular goalscorer for Aston Villa for over 10 years at the club, netting his final goal in December 1901. He was the club’s leading scorer in their 1893-94 Championship winning team with 20 goals. For eight years, Devey captained Aston Villa during which time they won the League Championship five times between 1894 and 1900 and the FA Cup twice, the first of these coming in 1895 when they gained revenge over West Bromwich Albion with a 1-0 Final win at The Crystal Palace with a goal in the first 30 seconds of the match from Bob Chatt.
In 1897 he was part of the Double winning team, with the FA Cup secured in a 3-2 victory over Everton at The Crystal Palace. The fact that he was captain of such a great team suggests he really was a great player!! He was also Aston Villa’s leading goalscorer in six of his eleven seasons at the club. He retired in April 1902 having scored 186 goals in 308 games for The Villains, and was an Aston Villa director for the next 32 years until his retirement from the Board in September 1934.
Jack Devey was also a more than useful Warwickshire cricketer over 20 years, first appearing for the county side in 1887, though matches were only rated as first class from 1894. He was a right handed batsman who batted in the middle order until around 1900, but then opened the innings until his final retirement from the game in 1907. He played 154 matches for Warwickshire, had a high score of 246 and averaged a respectable 28.11. He also bowled occasional right-arm medium pace, taking 16 wickets in his first class career.
NB the portrait shows Devey the Warwickshire cricketer.