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Thursday, 16 May, 2002, 17:52 GMT 18:52 UK
Albion bid to net golden ball
Christina Bayley with the original cup final ball
The ball is owned by Mrs Bayley's family
A historic gilded football could take pride of place in West Bromwich Albion's museum.

The football used in the 1888 English Cup Final victory, complete with original decoration, has surfaced in Surrey.

Given to a club supporter shortly after Albion's 2-1 success over Preston, the ball represents a unique period in English footballing history.

Albion are now considering asking the ball's owner, Christina Bayley, if she can lend it to them as a centrepiece of the club's museum.

Treasured possession

Mrs Bayley's great-grandfather John Bowen was one of the club's great benefactors and a committee member.

The captain of the 1888 cup winning side, Jem Bayliss, presented the ball to him as a mark of gratitude for his help.

Mrs Bayley explained the ball had been a source of pride for the family.

She said: "The ball was treasured for many , many years.

The West Bromwich Albion Cup Final ball in its original state
The stuffed bird has since been removed

"It was originally more elaborate than this, it had a throstle mounted on the top.

"The gilding, which I understand is really very difficult to keep attached to leather, is predominantly still there."

The Albion museum at the Hawthorns ground is already packed with fascinating memorabilia.

Club Secretary Dr John Evans was sure the ball would make a valuable addition to the museum.

He said: "It would be very nice for the ball to be returned to the Hawthorns, not necessarily as a gift but something we could have on loan, perhaps permanent loan.

"It could be displayed in one or other of our museums around the stadium."

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