The 'Unbeaten' Season 

Many accounts of Moseley’s history state that during the first year of Albert Smith’s decade of captaincy, in 1879/80, the club was unbeaten, however, further research has revealed a somewhat different story. Newspaper reports for the season in question are a little scarce and for many of Moseley’s matches no accounts have so far been traced. One game that was covered by The Birmingham Daily Post, however, was Moseley’s trip north to play Manchester Rangers on 6th March 1880. This was the club’s first visit to what the Post referred to as ‘Cottonopolis’ and the Rangers were one of the strongest clubs in the city. Moseley, for unknown reasons, had several players, including captain Albert Smith, unavailable and were only able to muster fourteen men.

Moseley won the toss and decided to make first use of the wind which, in the event, proved to be of little assistance because shortly after the 3.30 p.m. start the Rangers had scored an unconverted try. The home side then spent some time encamped near the Moseley goal line and despite the visitors managing to get the ball away on a couple of occasions the home side soon scored another unconverted try. Once more Moseley attempted to move the ball downfield but were beaten back and a third unconverted try resulted. Before half time Manchester scored another four tries strangely none of which were converted.

The change of ends merely saw a continuation of the sad spectacle because the Rangers soon scored a further try and even though it was touched down between the posts the conversion was once more missed. The home side then added a disputed try[1] and shortly afterwards managed to convert a further score. There then followed a period of Moseley pressure and they succeeded in forcing the Rangers to touch down in self-defence in their own in-goal area. This was only a brief respite and Manchester soon scored another try between the Moseley posts which again went unconverted. Soon afterwards no side was called with the result being a Manchester Rangers victory by one goal, ten tries and thirteen touchdowns to one touchdown. Four of these tries were scored by three quarter C.W. Smith while another was credited to ‘Mr Smith’ who may have been the same player or may have been the full back E.T. Smith.

So much for the unbeaten season of 1879/80!

[1] At this time there were no referees, each side providing an umpire. These umpires could, and frequently did, disagree resulting in the scoring of a 'disputed' try.