William Isiah Bassett, born on 27 January 1869, was an English footballer, a director and club chairman for West Bromwich Albion for over half a century being loyal to West Brom for his whole career.
Bassett established himself as a winger in various local amateur sides, he joined West Bromwich Albion in 1886, playing outside-right (right wing today). Bassett made his League debut on 8 September 1888, as a right winger for West Bromwich Albion in a 2–0 win against Stoke at the Victoria Ground.
Bassett scored his debut League goal on 15 September 1888 at the County Ground, against Derby County. West Bromwich Albion won the match 2–1. He missed one of the “Magpies”‘ 22 Football League matches and scored 11 goals in season 1888–89 and was part of a midfield that achieved a big (three goals or more) League win on two separate occasions.
His 11 League goals also included a brace on one occasion. When he made his League debut he was 19 years and 225 days old; which made him, on that first day of League football, West Bromwich Albion’s youngest ever player. He played 261 Football League games for the club, scoring 61 goals, and he also won 16 England caps (scoring eight goals), becoming one of the game’s earliest forms of a celebrity.
On 28 April 1894, Bassett became the first ever West Brom player to be sent off: he was dismissed for using “unparlimentary language” in a friendly match away at Millwall. Described by many as quick, direct and highly effective, he possessed superb ball-control and could score goals as well as create them.
Bassett made his final competitive appearance for West Brom on the last day of the 1898–99 season, lining up in a 7–1 defeat away against Aston Villa. Billy Bassett passed away 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. More than 100,000 people lined the streets of West Bromwich for Bassett’s funeral procession.