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Club News

William Westwood: Cup Mystery, All Parts!

Westwood pictured back row, second from right.

24 May 2018

We've compiled all four parts to the Westwood chronicles in a convenient round up of this fascinating story involving Rovers and Aston Villa!

Part One

We have recently been given the cup displayed in the photograph below, on permanent loan, by the family of William Westwood.

The cup has been given to the club by William's granddaughter, who believes that every member of the Rovers side who played in that match received an identical trophy.

Underneath the Aston Villa Club Crest, is the following inscription; 'Presented to William Westwood to Commemorate a Generous Act of The Aston Villa Football Club.'

On the other side of the cup, and underneath the City of Bristol Coat of Arms is another inscription, which reads; 'Aston Villa (1 Goal) v Bristol Rovers (2 Goals) 20 April 1910.'

To date, we are not sure why the match was played, as Rovers were a Southern League side at that time while Villa, one of the founder members of the Football League, were playing in League Division One.

We do know a little about William Westwood and will publish a little more of his story each day, hoping to discover if there are any more of these trophies in existence.

If every Rovers player did, indeed receive one, then there might be one in a loft of an attic somewhere in Bristol.

We will add a little bit more to Williams' story in the next few days, but if there is anyone out there who knows more about the game, please get in touch, or else Head of media Keith Brookman will be sent on a mission to the Newspaper Library!

Part Two

A few days we published an article regarding a trophy donated to the club by the family of William Westwood.

Today, thanks to club historians Mike Jay and Stephen Byrne, we are able to tell you a little more about William the footballer.

William Howell Powell Westwood was born in Langley Green, Worcester in 1882.

He lived in places such as Denaby and Conisbrough where he was working as a Coal Mine Pony Driver. In 1909 he married Annie Eliza Denham with whom he had four children (Elizabeth, Rose, Emily and Willie).

Having started his career with Aston Villa, William joined Bristol Rovers in May 1909 and made his Rovers debut, at left back, in a 4-0 win against Portsmouth on 4th September that year.

He missed just two Southern League matches that season completing 40 appearances plus a historic FA Cup appearance against Grimsby Town. He was the youngest member of the Rovers side which shocked the footballing world by defeating Football League side Grimsby Town 2-0 away from home in the FA Cup in January 1910.

He was an ever-present the following season, making 38 league appearances, and played two FA Cup ties. He completed 14 Southern league matches in season 1911/12. His final appearance was against Coventry City at Eastville on Boxing Day 1912.

Given that he started out at Villa, and Rovers' manager at the time, Alf Homer, had been the assistant secretary at Villa before his move to Bristol.

There is more to add to William's story and we will be doing that in the coming days. In the meantime, if there is anyone out there who knows more about him, or the friendly match against Villa in 1910, please get in touch.

Part Three

Today we bring you the third article regarding William Westwood and the trophy presented to him back in 1910.

On Wednesday we gave brief details of his Rovers career, today we learn something of his life away from football.

It is, perhaps, worth noting that while living in Bristol he lodged with team-mate David Harvie at Ernest and Rhoda Miller's house at 38 Colston Road, Easton, Bristol.

William enlisted in Strenshall, Yorkshire, into the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry as #241454 Corporal William Howell Powell Westwood.

Sadly, on 3rd May 1917, William was killed in action and his personal effects were given to his children.

This is an extract from a letter written by William's granddaughter, Beryl Kemp, who has kindly donated the cup given to William back in 1910; 'My mother told me that all of those enlisting at the same time as my Grandad were asked what they did in civilian life.

'Because he was a footballer he was also a good runner and that was why he was put in the position of using grenades.

'She had heard he was in the line of fire from a grenade attack when he died and all that had been returned to the family was a photograph in his breast pocket and a button from his uniform.'

'My Mum clung to this memory and she was very proud of him. That is why the cup meant such a lot to her, it was all she had.

'I promised her I would never sell it, but giving it back to the club he played for seems so much better than having it in a box that no one ever sees.

'It may inspire a youngster with a sense of history and we feel that would be a wonderful tribute to a footballer who gave his life in the line of duty.'

We are sure there is more to William's story and about that game against Aston Villa and we hope to discover more in the coming weeks…with your help! Please get in touch if you can shed any light on the matter.

Beryl and her husband, by the way, are planning to take in a game at The Mem next season and it would be nice to have some more information to give them when they pay us a visit!

Part Four

Thanks to those who responded for information regarding the game between Aston Villa and Bristol Rovers played back in April 1910.

Eliot Jackson sent in this extract from a newspaper report of the match:

'Played for the benefit of the home club, there was an attendance of about 8,000.

'The Rovers, to the delight of their supporters, were above form and the Villa below.

'The crowd cheered wildly when Corbett scored in the first half and again after the interval.

'Towards the close, the Villa were awarded a penalty and Wallace scored.

The game was very fast and exciting.'

"Well," says Eliot, "that's it and it doesn't say precisely why the game was played other than to benefit the home club."

In a tweet from @billmilburn2 we are told that; 'The match was reported in the next day's edition of the WDP.

'Rovers were going through a bad financial situation and the Villa sent a team to play Rovers.

'Each player was awarded a silver cup on a wooden plinth from Villa.

'Eleven cups by Kemps of Union Street, Bristol.

'Hallmark, London.'

Thanks to all who have taken an interest in this article; it would be interesting to know if any of the other 11 cups have survived the intervening 108 years, though, so if anyone out knows the whereabouts of any of the other ten, please get in touch!


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