Woodhall George “Spry” Image 1 West Bromwich Albion 1888

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West Bromwich born outside right George “Spry” Woodhall began his football career with West Bromwich All Saints in 1881 and Churchfield Foresters in 1882 as well as assisting Wednesbury Town in a victory over Aston Villa, before he joined West Bromwich Albion in May 1883. He scored 10 goals in 29 games in their pre-league era and was a member of the West Bromwich Albion team that reached the 1886 and 1887 FA Cup Finals, losing 2-0 to Blackburn Rovers in a replay at The Racecourse Ground, Derby after a 0-0 draw at The Crystal Palace in 1886, and 2-0 to Aston Villa at The Kennington Oval respectively.

In 1888, West Bromwich reached the FA Cup Final for the third consecutive year, when they met favourites Preston North End at The Kennington Oval on 24th March 1888. Woodhall scored the winning goal with thirteen minutes remaining, when the West Bromwich forwards outjumped Preston’s defence and Woodhall pounced on the rebound, turning sharply to steer the ball between the posts, thus enabling The Baggies to claim the first of their five FA Cup victories to date.

Described by one source as well-nicknamed, for he was indeed a sprightly player, figuring prominently at outside-right for Albion in the early days. He could centre with great accuracy and combined well in team work, especially with Billy Bassett as his partner.

Woodhall was first selected for an England squad in February 1887 when he was a non playing reserve against Wales, and made his debut against Wales at the Alexandra Recreation Ground, Crewe, on 4th February 1888, when he scored the third goal in a 5-1 victory. Woodhall’s goal was England’s 100th international goal. He also played in their next match against Scotland at Hampden Park which was won 5-0 the next month.

Woodhall made his Football League debut on 8th September 1888 in West Bromwich Albion’s inaugural League fixture in a 2-0 win against Stoke at the Victoria Ground. He also scored the second goal in the match. He played ten of their 22 League matches and scored three goals in the season and continued to play in around half of Albion’s matches for their first four seasons, scoring 10 goals in 45 appearances during their League era to add to his earlier totals in their pre-League era. He then joined Wolverhampton Wanderers in October 1892, and played two seasons for Wolves, although he was not part of their team that won the FA Cup in 1893. After one goal in 18 appearances, he joined non league Berwick Rangers of Worcester in 1894 and subsequently moved to Oldbury Town in 1895 before his eventual retirement in 1898.

 

 

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