Years of debate over who scored the first ever goal in league football anywhere in the world, appears to have come to an end.
New research by football author Mark Metcalf and Robert Boyling of the British Library shows that Bolton Wanderers forward Kenny Davenport’s strike at approximately 3.47pm on Saturday 8th September, 1888 was the first ever goal in The Football League.
Metcalf and Boyling’s findings establish that the match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa, played the same day, kicked off at 3.30pm rather than 3.00pm as previously thought by the game’s historians. Consequently, the own goal scored in that match by Aston Villa full-back Gershom Cox after 30 minutes would not have been the first ever goal.
Metcalf whose book ‘The Origins of The Football League’ (Amberley Publishing) is published on August 9, said: “There has been significant amount of debate over the years over who scored the first ever league goal with at least three other players having been credited with the honour at some stage.
“Kick-off times in the early years of The Football League would vary from club to club and occasionally matches would get delayed because of the away team arriving late.
“Robert and I spent many months trawling through the historical records in an effort to prove that the first league goal was not an own goal as was widely thought. Eventually we discovered an advert for the match in the Midland Evening News which listed the game at Wolves as kicking off at 3.30pm.
“Therefore the first goal has to be the one scored by Kenny Davenport two minutes into Bolton’s match with Derby which kicked-off at 3.45pm at the Club’s first ground, Pikes Lane.”
This weekend The Football League marks its 125th Anniversary with six special anniversary fixtures and its Head of Communications, John Nagle, said: “There have been 515,412 goals scored in the 125 years of The Football League and millions more in leagues across the globe. However, there can only be one ‘first goal’ and after years of debate, it appears that we now have the answer.
“It is particularly fitting that it should be scored by a player who played for his hometown club for the best part of a decade rather than an own goal.”