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1920s
In 1920 the Southern League’s First Division was absorbed en bloc by the Football League as the Third Division (South); the club’s first game in the new competition was a 2–0 defeat at Southend. Although they finished only 18th in that first season, over the next 19 years Albion usually finished in the top half but challenged for promotion only in the late 1930s.

Some excellent players passed through the Goldstone between the wars, though, and Tommy Cook, who holds the club record of 114 League goals, became the first Albion player to be capped by England. Other notable performers were forwards Ernie “Tug” Wilson (who played in a record 566 matches), Bobby Farrell, Bert Stephens and Potter Smith; half-backs Reg Wilkinson, Dave Walker, Wally Little and Paul Mooney; and full-back Jack Jenkins (who won eight caps for Wales).

The club made considerable progress off the pitch by purchasing the lease on the Goldstone from Alderman Clark in 1926, and securing the freehold from the Stanford Estate in 1930. Grandiose plans were made for new stands and other improvements, but only the North Stand, opened in 1931 largely though the fund-raising efforts of the Supporters’ Club, saw the light of day.

Cup Giantkillers
While League form was consistent rather than outstanding, the greatest triumphs between the wars were reserved for the F.A. Cup: First Division sides Oldham Athletic, Sheffield United, Everton, Grimsby Town, Portsmouth, Leicester City and Chelsea were all defeated. Everton were humbled 5–2 at the Goldstone in 1924, while Grimsby and Portsmouth were both beaten away from home in 1929/30 thanks to goals from Hugh Vallance who set a new record of 32 goals in the season.

The famed amateur side Corinthians were also defeated following two replays. It was their first-ever F.A. Cup tie, a momentous occasion which saw the first match at the Goldstone recorded on film for cinema audiences.


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