November 10, 1923
Aston Villa centre half
Ex-policeman arrested after street drama
Thomas Ball, the Aston Villa centre half-back, was shot dead outside his house at Perry Barr, Birmingham, late last night. The news caused a sensation in Birmingham and the Midlands.
Perry Barr, where the tragedy took place is an outlying suburb some two and a half miles from the centre of the city.
On Saturday, Ball occupied his customary position in the Villa team against Notts County at Nottingham, where the Villa won.
Ball, a married man, was returning home to Brick-kiln Cottages between 10 and 11 on Saturday night accompanied by his wife. Near their house they were met by George Stagg, who is their neighbour, and is stated to be their landlord.
Apparently there was an altercation over some matter which has not been disclose. The quarrel seems to have become acute. At any rate, Stagg, who was carrying a sporting gun, is alleged to have pointed his weapon towards Ball, and to have fired two shots. One of the shots struck Ball in the chest, and he fell, death being practically instantaneous.
Mrs. Ball raised the alarm, and the police were informed. On the arrival of Sergeant Davenport, of the West Bromwich police, Stagg was found in Ball’s house and was taken to West Bromwich. He is state to be an ex-member of the Birmingham City Police Force.
Stagg was brought before the West Bromwich magistrates to-day (Monday). He was charged with the wilful murder of Thomas Ball.
Chief Superintendent Tucker said it appeared that Stagg and Ball both lived at Somerville Cottages, Brick-kiln Lane. Ball and his wife were returning home when some altercation took place between the prisoner and Ball.
The prisoner, the Superintendent said, appeared to have fired one shot from a single-barrelled gun and afterwards reloaded and fired a second shot. It was this shot which struck Ball in the chest, killing him instantly.
Sergeant Davenport was called to the scene and found prisoner in Ball’s house, with Ball’s body lying on the sofa. He arrested Stagg and took him to West Bromwich. In reply to the charge of wilful murder, the prisoner made a lengthy statement.
Superintendent Tucker added that he did not propose to put in that statement to-day (Monday).
Sergeant Davenport stated that in response to a telephone call he went to Ball’s house and found Ball dead. Stagg was present. “I saw a wound in Ball’s chest,” said witness, “and a round hole about the size of half-a-crown.”
Prisoner was remanded until Wednesday, November 21.
Stagg is a man about 5ft. 10in. in height with grey hair and a grey moustache. He wore a long mackintosh coat.
Ball, who was only 24 years of age, signed on for Aston Villa on January 19 – 1920. He was born at Usworth, in the county of Durham, and his first club was Felling Colliery. When he was assisting them his services were sought by Aston Villa, Liverpool, and Barnsley. The Villa’s offer was the most attractive, and he joined them.
Thomas Ball came to the Villa club when Barson was at the height of his fame. He soon proved himself to be a sound centre-half, but had to be content to await events before gaining promotion. When Frank Barson left the Villa two seasons ago for Manchester United, Ball came into his own. He had made progress this season, not only in defence, but in setting his forwards on the move.
Ball showed good ball control, and was extremely resourceful with his head. He as a determined player, and though a little rugged was rapidly gaining in polish. He was a clean player also, and had developed this season as a centre half so much as to keep out Dr. Milne, recently transferred from Aberdeen.
(Yorkshire Evening Post: November 12, 1923)
Thomas Ball, Aston Villa F.C. (Leeds Mercury: November 13, 1923):
Thomas Ball, Aston Villa F.C. (Dundee Courier: November 13, 1923):