This day in football history
On 20 April 1895, Aston Villa scored what was at the time the fastest goal in FA Cup final history to beat West Bromwich Albion 1–0 before a crowd of 42,560 at London’s Crystal Palace. Because many of those attendees were slow entering the stadium, they missed the record-setting goal.
There is some dispute about who actually scored the goal. According to post-match reports, Villa center forward John Devey started the match, kicking the ball to inside-left Dennis Hodgetts, who then sent it to winger Charlie Athersmith on the right. Athersmith then crossed it to the goalmouth, where it fell to inside forward Bob Chatt, who then half-volleyed it toward the goal. The ball entered the goal sometime between the 30th and 39th second of the match.
Press reports credited the goal to Chatt, but some Villa players said later that West Brom keeper Joe Reader deflected Chatt’s shot into the path of Devey, who fired it into the net. In any event, the FA still lists Chatt as the goalscorer on the 30th second. It turned out to be the match winner, as neither team was able to penetrate the other’s defense for the remainder of the match.
It was the second FA Cup title for Villa, who had won it in 1887 by beating West Brom 2–0. Villa didn’t get to hold on to it for very long, though, as the 1895 Cup itself was stolen shortly after the final and has never been recovered.
Villa’s record goal stood for 114 years until it was overtaken in 2009 when Everton’s Louis Saha scored at the 25-second mark in their 2–1 loss to Chelsea.