West Bromwich born right half Ezra Horton initially played football for George Salter’s Works in 1880 and joined West Bromwich Albion in 1881. WBA entered the FA Cup in the 1883-84 season but lost in the first round to Wednesbury Town. The following year they played Aston Villa away in the 3rd round. Over 22,000 people saw WBA beat their local rivals 3-0. After beating Druids they faced the mighty Blackburn Rovers in the 5th round. A record home attendance of 16,393 saw Blackburn win 2-0.
In the 1885-86 season Albion beat Wolverhampton Wanderers (3-1), Old Carthusians (1-0), Old Westminsters (6-0) and Small Heath Alliance (4-0) to reach their first FA Cup Final, played at the Kennington Oval, with Horton playing at right half. Their opponents were Blackburn Rovers, who were appearing in their third successive Final. Four of the players, Fergie Suter, Hugh McIntyre, Jimmy Brownand Jimmy Douglas were playing in their fourth final in five seasons. Albion dominated the match but Herbie Arthur, the Blackburn goalkeeper, made several good saves and the game ended in a 0-0 draw.
The replay took place at the Racecourse Ground, Derby. A goal by Joe Sowerbutts gave Blackburn Rovers an early lead. In the second half James Brown collected the ball in his own area, took the ball past several Albion players, ran the length of the field and scored one of the best goals scored in a FA Cup Final. Blackburn now joined the Wanderers in achieving three successive Cup Final victories.
This was a magnificent achievement for a team of amateurs. Seven members of the team that reached the 1886 FA Cup Final still worked at Salter’s Spring Factory. This included Ezra Horton, Bob Roberts, Charlie Perry, George Woodhall, George Timmins, George Bell and Harry Bell. All eleven players were born within a six-mile radius of West Bromwich. At the time the town had a population of 56,000 people.
In the 1886-87 season they beat Burton Wanderers (6-0), Derby Junction (2-1), Mitchell’s St George (1-0), Lockwood Brothers (2-1), Notts County (4-1), Preston North End (3-1) to reach the Final against Aston Villa, played at The Kennington Oval. For the second successive year WBA lost the Final 2-0 and Horton was denied a second cup-winning medal.
West Brom were in great form in the 1887-88 season, scoring 195 goals in 58 first team matches. Albion also enjoyed another good run in the FA Cup beating Stoke City (4-1), Old Carthusians (4-2) and Derby Junction (3-0) to reach the Final against Preston North End. A crowd of nearly 20,000 watched the Final at the Kennington Oval on 24th March, 1888. The 19 year-old Billy Bassett was the star of the game and after one long dribble he passed to Jem Bayliss who scored the opening goal. Fred Dewhurst scored an equalizer early in the second half but Albion gradually got the upper hand. According to Philip Gibbons in Association Football in Victorian England: “Bassett tormented their defence”. He eventually provided the cross for George Woodhall to score the winning-goal ten minutes from time. Horton had at last won a Cup winner’s medal.
The first season of the Football League began in September, 1888. WBA’s professional players received 10 shillings a week, with no bonuses or expenses. Horton made 8 appearances in their inaugural Football League season with his League bow coming at Blackburn Rovers in their third match in September. Albion finished in 6th place with Billy Bassett ending up as the club’s top scorer with 14 goals in 25 games. Horton played in 12 games that season.
Preston North End again won the First Division title in the 1889-90 season with Albion finishing in 5th place. Top scorer for the club that season was Tom Pearson with 17 goals in 24 games. Horton, who played in 24 League and Cup games that year, followed by 16 games in 1890-91, after which he retired from professional football at the end of the season. He scored once in 83 senior appearances during his entire career with West Bromwich Albion.
He played for West Bromwich Albion with his younger brother Jack, who had 17 seasons at The Hawthorns, on numerous occasions over many seasons, Jack also played for Burslem Port Vale.