Sport, ancient and modern: Football

Pages 276-278

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 2, General; Ashford, East Bedfont With Hatton, Feltham, Hampton With Hampton Wick, Hanworth, Laleham, Littleton. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.

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Association.-Middlesex has taken a leading part in placing the Association game, the Rugby game and more recently the Amateur Football Association on a constitutional basis. It was in and around London that men first went on playing the various forms of football that they had learnt at school. As nearly every school possessed rules peculiar to itself, varying either to suit its playing area or handed down by tradition, it will easily be understood that the enjoyment of the game was greatly hindered by this lack of uniformity. In 1863 the late Mr. C. W. Alcock and other pioneers of the game of football made strenuous efforts to induce all players to unite under one code. To this end Mr. Alcock and those who played the dribbling, or what is now known as the Association, game were prepared to make certain concessions to those who followed the Rugby or running code.

The first meeting for the purpose was held at the Freemasons' Tavern, 26 October 1863 when the Football Association was formed. The clubs represented were the War Office F. C., the Crusaders, the Forest, Crystal Palace, Kilburn, Barnes and the Rugby clubs of Kensington School, Surbiton, Blackheath, and Percival House. Mr. Arthur Kimber of the Kilburn N.N.'s was elected the first president, Mr. Morley, honorary secretary, and Mr. G. Campbell of Blackheath, treasurer. A further meeting was held on 10 November, when the secretary was empowered to draft an amalgamated code of rules taken from those in vogue at Eton, Westminster, Harrow, Charterhouse, Rugby and Winchester. When the amalgamated code was presented at a subsequent meeting on 1 December concessions to the Rugby section were evident, and at one time it appeared not improbable that the new code would be acceptable to both sections of players. Hacking, then a cherished feature of the Rugby game had, however, been eliminated. The desirability of its retention was vigorously maintained by Mr. Campbell, but his arguments were in vain, and in consequence he and the members of the Rugby clubs decided not to join the Association. From that day to this the two great divisions of the game-Association and Rugby-have remained distinct. The growth of the Association was not at first rapid. By 1868 only twenty clubs, most of which belonged to Middlesex, owned allegiance to it.

In 1867 county football was introduced for the first time when Middlesex on 2 November played a combined team of Kent and Surrey. The game was keenly contested and resulted in a draw, neither side obtaining a goal. In 1870 the late Mr. C. W. Alcock, who did more towards popularizing Association football than any other man, was elected to the post of secretary, a position he filled for over thirty years. Up to the time of his death in 1907 he continued to take an active part in the administration of the game.

On 20 July 1871 the historic Challenge Cup was instituted and was won by the Wanderers. In early days this team, composed mainly of old public school men resident in London, was a dominating influence in Association football. In the first seven years of the Cup's history this club was successful on five occasions. Mr. C. W. Alcock was the organizer and leading spirit of the Wanderers until, on the formation in London of numerous clubs of old public school men, such as the Old Carthusians, the Old Etonians, and the Old Harrovians, the team was disbanded.

Other London clubs that held the trophy were the Old Etonians (twice) and the Old Carthusians, while the Clapham Rovers, which contained a fair proportion of Middlesex men, won it in 1880. Since the legalization of professionalism all this has been changed, and only once (fn. 1) since 1883 has a London club held it or been in the final. In 1883 that famous amateur club, the Corinthians, was formed. The club, whose head quarters are at Queen's Club in West Kensington, is composed of the pick of amateur players. The Corinthians have never entered for the Association Cup, but have contested hundreds of exciting matches with the leading professional teams. A very popular competition in London among the old boys of the various public schools who play the Association game is the Arthur Dunn Cup. This trophy was instituted in 1903 to perpetuate the memory of the Old Etonian whose name it bears, in his day one of the best type of amateur and an international player of note. The final and many of the ties are decided at Queen's Club.

The Old Carthusians are the present holders of the cup, a position they have enjoyed every year since the competition's inception, except in 1907 when the Old Reptonians were successful, while in 1903 the Old Salopians held it jointly with them.

Another trophy competed for in the metropolitan district is the Sheriff of London's Shield presented by Sir Thomas Dewar during his shrievalty, to be played for by the two leading amateur and professional teams of the year. The proceeds of the match are devoted to deserving London charities.

Lord Kinnaird is president of the Football Association and the secretary is Mr. L. Walls. The Middlesex representative on the committee is Mr. W. W. Heard, who is also secretary of the Middlesex Association. The cup tie competitions in the county comprise the following-Middlesex Senior and Junior, Middlesex Charity, Inter-Hospital, Tottenham Charity, London Senior, Junior, Charity, and London Banks.

The various schools in the county have trained many notable internationals. Westminster heads the list with a dozen players, including N. C. Bailey, who not only captained the English team, but played on no less than eighteen occasions. Harrow ranks next with seven, of whom the late C. W. Alcock will ever be remembered. Mill Hill supplied two distinguished internationals in the brothers Heron, whilst the City of London School furnished S. R. Bastard.

Another far-reaching movement initiated in London has been the formation of the Amateur Football Association. With the great increase of professionalism of recent years in the Association game it was felt that the interests of the amateurs were hardly receiving from the governing body the recognition to which they were entitled, and when in 1907 legislation was brought in threatening the individual freedom of action of the player the amateurs felt that the time had arrived for them to form an association of their own. The Amateur Football Association was accordingly formed with Lord Alverstone as the first president, and H. Hughes-Onslow as secretary. The amateurs of the county are affiliated to the new association.

Rugby.-After the Rugby clubs had decided in 1863 not to join the Football Association, the followers of the running game continued to increase, but no governing body was formed for some years. At that date the most prominent Rugby clubs in the county were Ravenscourt Park, the Harlequins, the Wasps, the Gipsies, Addison, Belsize, Hampstead, the Pirates, the Black Rovers, and the Red Rovers.

The London hospitals also played the Rugby game as well as the following schools:- St. Paul's, Merchant Taylors, Highgate, King's College School, Christ's College Finchley, Godolphin School, Kensington Grammar School, and many smaller seminaries.

In the season of 1870-1 it became evident that the best interest of the sport would be served by placing the Rugby game on a constitutional basis with a uniform code of rules. The movement was confined to the London clubs, and of those represented at a meeting held, 26 January 1871, no less than eleven out of twenty-one belonged to Middlesex. At this meeting the Rugby Union was formed. It is worthy of note that 'hacking,' the elimination of which caused the Rugby men to decline to join the Football Association in 1863, was forbidden by the code drawn up by the newly-formed Union. Middlesex was well represented on the first general committee as well as in the first international match with Scotland, which was played a few weeks after the formation of the governing body.

The head quarters of the Union have always been in Middlesex, and in 1908 its new ground at Twickenham was opened, which will be the centre of the game and all international matches will be played there.

Middlesex was the first of the southern counties to put a football team in the field. On 25 February 1879 they met Yorkshire for the first time and won by 2 goals 2 tries to 2 goals and 1 try. The same season the county also played Surrey, but were defeated by a try. In the succeeding season Middlesex suffered defeat from both Yorkshire and Surrey. On 21 February 1881 Lancashire was met at Manchester for the first time, but the visitors were not a representative side and sustained an easy defeat. In the following season Middlesex engaged the powerful county of Kent for the first time and were defeated by a goal and a try.

In 1887 Middlesex as the strongest county in the south was selected to do battle with Lancashire, the champions of the north, on the occasion of the Charity Festival organized in London jointly by the Rugby Union and the Football Association. A stubbornly contested match resulted in Middlesex, though having the best of the game, being defeated by a try. As a matter of fact Middlesex also gained a try, but the short space marked out between the goal line and the dead-ball line lost them the point. It is worthy of note that his Majesty King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, was present at the match, and at the conclusion of the game several of the players were brought and introduced to his royal highness. Causa honoris we give the names of the Middlesex team:-E. T. Gurdon, A. Rotherham, W. E. Maclagan, C. J. B. Marriott, John Hammond, A. E. Stoddart, W. G. Clibborn, J. H. Roberts, C. J. Arkle, G. L. Jeffery, G. C. Lindsay, E. S. McEwen, C. Collier, T. Riddell, and A. S. Johnson.

In 1888, the year before the County Championship was officially recognized, Middlesex was without question the strongest Rugby team of the season.

Since the initiation of the County Championship Middlesex has competed each year, and though the county team has never headed the competition, it has generally given a good account of itself. In 1904 in the final Middlesex were only just beaten by Durham by the bare margin of a point. In the season of 1907-8 the county team, as champions of the South-Eastern Division, met Cornwall in the semi-final to decide who should meet Durham for the championship. Cornwall, however, who subsequently defeated Durham in the final, proved the stronger.

Many prominent international players have been associated with Middlesex football; notably E. T. Gurdon, who captained the team for many years, and his brother Charles; the late Alan Rotherham, the most correct half-back of his own or any time, who succeeded Gurdon in the captaincy; C. G. Wade, now Premier of New South Wales; the Hon. H. A. Lawrence; the late John Hammond, who though Yorkshire born, by residence played for the metropolitan county throughout his long career; C. J. B. Marriott, A. E. Stoddart, G. L. Jeffery, and others. Up to 1907 the county received very material assistance from such famous international players as W. E. Maclagan, the late G. C. Lindsay, J. G. McMillan, A. J. Gould, A. F. Harding, and G. Campbell. In the year mentioned it was thought that the non-inclusion of such players would the better stimulate native talent and the following rule was passed: 'No man possessing an Irish, Scotch, or Welsh International Cap shall be eligible to play in a county championship match.' At the present time Middlesex has more clubs affiliated to the Rugby Union than any other county, and consequently is entitled to two seats in the executive. The present representatives are E. Prescott and W. Williams.

To two Middlesex men, the late Arthur Budd and the late R. S. Whalley, credit is due for the inception of the useful London Referees' Society for supplying referees to all clubs belonging to the society.

Nor have the schools in the county been behind hand in training a considerable number of international players, as the subjoined list will show. Harrow for instance, though still adhering to rules peculiarly its own, has supplied A. N. Hornby, W. E. Openshaw, F. E. Pease, J. T. Gowans, and John Hopley; Mill Hill-J. H. Dewhurst, A. F. Todd, and T. W. Pearson; Christ's College Finchley -C. R. Cleveland, C. H. Coates, the late H. G. Fuller, president of Cambridge University F.C., H. M. Jordan, and W. C. Hutchinson. From St. Paul's School came R. O. Schwarz; from St. John's Wood, A. E. Stoddart, G. L. Jeffery, and J. G. Anderson. Christ's Hospital produced S. Reynolds, and Isleworth College, A. Allport and H. Huth. From Merchant Taylors' came N. C. Fletcher, A. S. and H. H. Taylor; and from the Godolphin School G. Fraser.


  • 1. This occurred in 1901, when Tottenham Hotspur, after one drawn game with Sheffield United, subsequently beat the latter.