Yates owned an iron foundry in Blackburn. In August 1877, Black
Star and James Street football teams joined forces to establish
Blackburn Olympic. Yates agreed to fund the club.
Whereas Blackburn Rovers was mainly made up of players who
attended public schools, the Blackburn Olympic team largely
contained men from the working-class. The two clubs played each
other on 15th February 1879 but Olympic, now one of the best
teams in the country, won 3-1.
Blackburn Olympic decided to enter the FA Cup in 1882-83.
Coached by former England player, Jack Hunter, Blackburn beat
Lower Darwen 9-1 in the second round of the competition. This
was followed by victories against Darwen Ramblers (8-0), Church
(2-0) and Druids (4-0). Hunter, who also played at centre-half
for Olympic, led his team to a 4-0 victory over Old Carthusians
in the semi-final of the competition.
Jack Hunter decided to take his team away to Blackpool to
prepare for the Cup Final against Old Etonians. As Marc Keech
pointed out in the Encyclopedia of British Football : "This was
the first recorded occasion of sustained systematic training,
with players leaving home for a period of time to live
Over 8,000 people arrived at the Kennington Oval to watch
Blackburn Olympic play Old Etonians in the final. Blackburn
selected the following team: Thomas Hacking (dental assistant),
James Ward (cotton machine operator), Albert Warburton (master
plumber and pub landlord), Thomas Gibson (iron foundry worker),
William Astley (weaver), John Hunter (pub landlord), Thomas
Dewhurst (weaver), Arthur Matthews (picture framer), George
Wilson (clerk), Jimmy Costley (spinner) and John Yates (weaver).
Old Etonians were appearing in their third successive FA Cup
Final. Their captain, Arthur Kinnaird, was playing in his ninth
final and his side were hot favourites to win. Goodhart gave the
public school side a 1-0 lead at half-time. The fitter Blackburn
Olympic began to take control of the game in the second-half and
Arthur Matthews scored a well-deserved equalizer. Despite being
the much better team Olympic was unable to score a winning goal
during normal time. After 17 minutes of extra time, Thomas
Dewhurst ran at the defense, centered the ball to Jimmy Costley,
who volleyed the ball past the goalkeeper. Blackburn Olympic had
become the first northern team to win the FA Cup.