Billy Kirton

William John Kirton (2 December 1896 – 27 September 1970) was a footballer in the early years of professional football in England, who played over 200 games for Aston Villa and is best known for scoring the only goal in the 1920 FA Cup Final.

Football career

Kirton was born in Newcastle upon Tyne. Kirton was a member of the Temperance Society and played for Pandon Temperance before joining Leeds City in May 1919. After Kirton had played only one game for the club, City went out of business and he was transferred to Aston Villa for £500 in October 1919.

In the 1919–20 season Aston Villa enjoyed a successful run in the FA Cup beating QPR (2-1), Manchester United (2-1), Sunderland (1-0), Tottenham Hotspur (1-0) and Chelsea (3-1).

The club played Huddersfield Town in the final at Stamford Bridge. The referee, Jack Howcroft, entered the Villa dressing-room before the game and warned Frank Barson that he would be sent off for any indiscretion. According to the authors of The Essential Aston Villa, "the normally unflappable Barson was taken aback and his performance was uncharacteristically cautious for much of the game." Kirton scored the only goal of the game and Villa won the cup for the sixth time in its history.

Kirton won his first and only international cap for England against Northern Ireland on 22 October 1921. Kirton scored England's only goal in the 1–1 draw.

Kirton, a talented inside-forward, formed a productive partnership with Clem Stephenson. A teetotaller and non-smoker, he scored 59 goals in 261 appearances before signing for Coventry City in September 1928. However, he failed to score for his new club in 16 games and left to join Kidderminster Harriers.

After retiring from professional football Kirton ran a newsagent's shop in Great Barr, Birmingham.

Kirton died in Sutton Coldfield on 27 September 1970.