West Bromwich born left back Jesse Pennington was the model one club stalwart defender. He started his football career with Langley Villa in 1898, playing for Langley St Michael’s in 1899 before joining Dudley Town in 1900. He joined Albion from Dudley Town having been on Aston Villa’s books as an amateur when 18 years old, without ever playing for their first eleven. He made his Football League debut at Liverpool in September 1903, and was in Albion’s 1907 losing FA Cup semi final team beaten 2-1 by Everton at Burnden Park.
He played 495 games for West Bromwich Albion between 1903 and 1922 without ever scoring, captaining them to the 1920 League Championship and also being a runner up in their 1912 FA Cup Final defeat to Barnsley, when they lost in a replay at Bramall Lane to a goal late in extra time. He was also a part of the team promoted from the Second Division in 1911 as Second Division Champions.
He made his England debut in a 1-1 draw with Wales at Craven Cottage in March 1907 and won a remarkable 25 caps for England between 1907 and 1920 (playing many games in front of Sam Hardy) despite the interruption of World War One, a prodigious number of caps at the time, the equivalent of well over 100 caps today. He was also a non playing reserve on 4 other occasions. At the time of his final cap, a 5-4 victory over Scotland at Hillsborough in April 1920, he was, at 36 years and 231 days, England’s oldest capped outfield player. This record has since been exceeded by Stanley Matthews, Leslie Compton and Stuart Pearce. He also played 7 times for The Football League
After retiring in August 1922, he spent the ensuing season serving as Albion’s club coach. He then served Kidderminster Harriers as a coach until 1925. He later worked as a scout for West Bromwich Albion from 1950 to 1960 and was made a life member of the club in 1969, a year before he died in Kidderminster. Pennington was named as one of West Bromwich Albion’s 16 greatest players in a poll organised as part of the club’s 125th anniversary celebrations in 2004. He is still one of the main vintage names (Billy Bassett and WG Richardson being the others), that an average West Brom fan is likely to have heard of 100 odd years on!!