The most prestigious cup competition in English football, the Football Association (FA) Challenge Cup was inugurated in 1871 and the first final was staged at Kennington Oval – better known as the home of Surrey County Cricket Club – in Lambeth, South London on March 16, 1872. Indeed, in the early days of the competition, long before the completion of the original Wembley Stadium, or ‘British Empire Exhibition Stadium’, as it was originally known, in 1923, all bar two of the first 21 FA Cup finals were played at Kennington Oval.
In fact, it was during one of these preliminary FA Cup finals, contested by Blackburn Rovers, of the Football League, and Sheffield Wednesday, of the doomed Football Alliance, on March 29, 1890, that Rovers’ outside left William Townley became the first player to score a hat-trick. Townley’s three goals were supplemented by three more, by forwards John ‘Jack’ Southworth, Joseph ‘Joe’ Lofthouse, and Nathaniel ‘Nat’ Walton, as the Riversiders hammered Wednesday 6-1 to win the FA Cup for the fourth time in their history.
Wednesday defender Albert Mumford scored what turned out to be just a consolation goal in what is still, jointly, the highest scoring FA Cup final in history; Black pool beat Bolton Wanderers 4-3 in the so-called ‘Matthews Final’ at Wembley Stadium in 1953 to equal the record. Coincidentally, in that latter match, Blackpool centre forward Stanley ‘Stan’ Mortensen became the first and, so far, only player to score a hat-trick in an FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium. Likewise, Blackburn Rovers still, jointly, hold the record for the most goals scored in an FA Cup Final; Bury routed Derby County 6-0 in 1903 and, much more recently, Manchester City treated Watford with similar contempt in 2019.