|Full name||William Isiah Bassett|
|Date of birth||27 January 1869|
|Place of birth||West Bromwich, England|
|Date of death||9 April 1937(aged 68)|
|Place of death||West Bromwich, England|
|Height||5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)|
|Playing position||Outside right|
|1886–1899||West Bromwich Albion||261||(61)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
William Isiah Bassett (27 January 1869 – 8 April 1937) was an English association footballer, director and club chairman who served West Bromwich Albion for over half a century.
Born in West Bromwich, the oldest of a coal merchant's six children, at only 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m), Bassett was initially considered too frail for a professional player. Establishing himself as a winger in various local amateur sides, he joined West Bromwich Albion in 1886, playing outside-right. He played 261 Football League games for the club, scoring 61 goals, and he also won 16 England caps (scoring 8 goals), becoming one of the game's earliest celebrities. On 28 April 1894, Bassett became the first ever Albion player to be sent off: he was dismissed for using "unparliamentary language" in a friendly match away at Millwall. Bassett made his 311th and final competitive appearance for Albion on the last day of the 1898–99 season, lining up in a 7–1 defeat away against Aston Villa.
Director and chairman
Bassett became an Albion director in 1905, following the resignation of the previous board in its entirety. The club was in deep financial trouble and had had a writ served upon them by their bank, but Bassett and returning chairman Harry Keys rescued the club, aided by local fund-raising activities. Bassett became chairman in 1908, and helped the club to avoid bankruptcy once more in 1910 by paying the players' summer wages from his own pocket. He remained Albion's chair until his death.
His activities in the wider footballing world let him to take an active role in the development of both the Football Association and the Football League. The strength of England's rivalry with Scotland had led Bassett to develop a "distaste" for Scots during his playing days, and throughout his 29-year chairmanship Albion did not sign a single Scottish player.
Death and legacy
Billy Bassett died in West Bromwich on 8 April 1937 at the age of 68. Two days after his death, a minute silence was held prior to Albion's 4–1 defeat to Preston North End in the FA Cup semi-final at Highbury. The Albion players were clearly affected, with Teddy Sandford saying:
|“||We were all too full up to play. Mr Bassett's death stunned the whole team – even the supporters. He was such a well-respected person. He taught me a lot and I must admit that I was tearful for most of the first half following the minute's silence before the kickoff.||”|
More than 100,000 people lined the streets of West Bromwich for Bassett's funeral procession.
In 1998 he was listed among the Football League 100 Legends, while in 2004 he was named as one of West Bromwich Albion's 16 greatest players, in a poll organised as part of the club's 125th anniversary celebrations.
- Joyce, Michael (2004). Football League Players' Records 1888 to 1939. Soccerdata. ISBN 1-899468-67-6.
- Matthews, Tony; Mackenzie, Colin (1987). Albion! A Complete Record of West Bromwich Albion 1879–1987. Breedon Books. p. 295. ISBN 0-907969-23-2.
- Matthews, Tony (2007). West Bromwich Albion: The Complete Record. Breedon Books. p. 194. ISBN 978-1-85983-565-4.
- McOwan pp. 33–34.
- McOwan pp. 34–35.
- Adrian Chiles (presenter) (2005). Full Throstle: The Official History of West Bromwich Albion (DVD). Manchester, England: Paul Doherty International. Event occurs at 18:20. Cat No. WBADVD05. Retrieved 25 January 2008.
- McOwan p. 55.
- "Football Legends list in full". BBC News. 5 August 1998. Retrieved 11 November 2007.
- "The wraps come off 125th anniversary mural". West Bromwich Albion F.C. 17 November 2004. Retrieved 11 November 2007.