Tag Archives: Football League

The very first football season of them all 1888-1889 (Part 2)

In my previous article about the involvement of the High School’s ex-pupils in the newly invented Football League. I spoke in some detail about the career of Arthur Frederick  Shaw, who played twice for Notts County in that inaugural season of 1888-1889, before going on to make two more League appearances the following season. He then continued his career in the Second Division with firstly Nottingham Forest and then Loughborough. Here is the Notts County kit that he would have worn during that first season:

Capture 1 - Copy

When Arthur Shaw made his first appearance in the Football League on December 8th 1888, at home to Aston Villa, a narrow 2-4 defeat for the Magpies in front of 2,000 spectators, he was the inside right (No 8). In the same team, playing at left full back (No 3) was the splendidly named Herbert Durrant Snook, a fellow ex-pupil of the High School.

Born on December 23rd 1867, Herbert Snook entered the High School on September 11th 1876. He left at Christmas in 1882. Herbert was one of four brothers, the sons of James Snook, a wholesale merchant and draper. The family lived initially in Elm Avenue, Nottingham, before their fortunes improved dramatically and they moved to Penrhyn House, in Clumber Road, The Park, Nottingham:

penryn

The other three Snooks at the High School were James Brasher Snook, Frederick William Snook and Percy Walter Snook. All three played for Notts County in various F.A.Cup ties and friendlies, but never in the Football League.

In that first season of League Football, Herbert also played in three F.A.Cup ties. These were all home games, against Eckington (4-1), Beeston St.John’s (4-2) and Derby Midland (2-1). Herbert played as a right full back (No 2) against Beeston St.John’s, but as a left full back in the two other games. The Cup Ties against Eckington and Beeston St.John’s were both contested by Notts County’s reserve side. On the same day, the First Team played Football League fixtures against Blackburn Rovers (3-3, 4,000 spectators) and Burnley (6-1, 5,000 spectators), both games taking place immediately after the Cup games. The crowd against Beeston St.John’s and Burnley must have gone home happy. It isn’t often that County win two successive games and score ten goals doing it. Here is Notts County’s Meadow Lane. It is the football stadium in the top right. Nottingham Forest’s City Ground is towards the bottom of the picture, on the southern side of the River Trent:

meadoew lanexxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Herbert’s brother, Frederick William, played against Eckington and Beeston St.John’s, at centre forward (No 9) in the first game, and as inside right ((No 8) in the second.  A third Old Nottinghamian to play was Henry Harold Brown who was at the High School from 1874-1878. He appeared as outside left (No 11) in both games and scored a brace of goals against Beeston St.John’s. His brother, Gilbert Noel Brown, yet another ex-pupil of the High School, played as centre forward (No 9) in this game.

In 1890, Herbert Snook was one of the earliest shareholders in the newly formed “Notts Incorporated Football Club”, although during the 1888-1889 season he had played in two friendlies for Nottingham Forest, the first against Stoke City (1-2), the annual Shrove Tuesday match. Here is the Stoke City kit:

Capture 1 - Copy

The second game was against his old team, Notts County (2-5). In excess of 5,000 spectators watched the match. On March 12th 1891, Herbert appeared for the Old Boys in their 3-1 victory over the High School First XI at the Gregory Ground, the home of both the High School footballers and of Nottingham Forest.

Herbert was to spend most of his life living at “The Cedars”, Derby Road, Lenton, Nottingham. He was keen on tennis, and in partnership with Gilbert Noel Brown, held the county men’s doubles championship for many years. Herbert was well known in political circles as a liberal, and worked in the old established family business of James Snook and Company Ltd., who were wholesalers and clothing manufacturers in Houndsgate, Nottingham. In actual fact, Herbert was still working until well into his eightieth year, after forty years as chairman and managing director, and a grand total of sixty two years in the company. Immediately after Herbert’s retirement, the business was taken over by a Birmingham firm. Herbert died on October 13th 1947, at the age of seventy nine, after an illness lasting some months. He was buried in the family vault in the Church Cemetery on Mansfield Road. Here is the Church Cemetery, a Victorian masterpiece. It has a permanent staff of eight vampires:

graveyard

Playing at right half (No 4) on December 8th 1888, against Aston Villa, alongside Arthur Shaw and Herbert Snook, was a third ex-High School pupil, namely G.H.Brown. Strangely, there are two likely candidates of this name in the Victorian school registers at the High School.

The first possibility is George Henry Brown, the son of Samuel Brown, a fish and game dealer of 96, Sherwood Street, Nottingham. He would have been nineteen years of age when the match against Aston Villa took place. A better fit though, would be George Hutchinson Brown, the twenty one year old son of George Wilkinson Brown, a grocer and chandler of firstly 14, Colville Terrace, and then 62, Addison Street, Nottingham. We will probably never know the answer to this enigma, unless Notts County have a dusty box full of players’ contracts from this era, hidden away somewhere, perhaps among the cobwebs of  their trophy room.

George Hutchinson Brown was to wear his admittedly un-numbered shirt as a right half (No 4) for most of that historic first season. He played 19 times out of a possible 22 games. He had the honour of playing in County’s first ever League game, a 1-2 defeat away to Everton at Goodison Park, and also in their first ever home game, a 3-3 draw with Blackburn Rovers. Here is the Blackburn Rovers’ strip, very similar to the present day:

Capture 2 bottom - Copy

Notts County’s first ever league victory came in their fifth game of the season, and was a 3-1 home win over Everton. George Hutchinson Brown was again the team’s right half. Here is the Everton kit:

Capture 3 top - Copy

George also played in County’s first ever away win in the League. This was a long, long, wait, until Match 18 out of 22, a 2-1 win over Accrington on January 26th 1889, County’s only victory away from home in the whole season.  Here are the Accrington colours:

accrington-1892-1893-b

George Brown’s solitary goal came in a narrow 2-5 away defeat against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park, in front of 4,000 spectators, on December 15th 1888. One particularly exciting game must have been the last one of the season, another narrow defeat at home, this time by 3-5 against Derby County. The Rams wore this unusual kit:

Capture 1 - Copyxxxx

George had played in friendlies for County in both the 1886-1887 and the 1887-1888 seasons. He made 28 appearances and scored one goal, against the Sheffield Club. Interesting results came against Scottish club, Hibernian (0-6), Aston Villa (8-2), Corinthians (1-4), Nottingham Forest (0-0, 12 000 spectators) and the disastrous Notts Rangers match (0-8). Here are the Hibernian colours of the era:

hinerbnian

George played in five F.A.Cup ties for County, against Nottingham Forest (1-2), playing as a centre half (No 5), Derby Midland (2-1), Old Brightonians (2-0), and Sheffield Wednesday (2-3). Best of all, he played as a left full back (No 3) in the El Classico of the Victorian era, Notts County 13 Basford Rovers 0. Here is Meadow Lane from the spectators’ point of view, seconds after the end of the game:

1962MeadowLanxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

At the end of the 1888-1889 season George left County for ever, and moved to Forest, where he was to play seven games in the Football Alliance, and a number of friendlies. Interesting results included games against Bootle (2-2), Grimsby Town (0-4), Long Eaton Rangers (3-5). Clapton (0-1), Walsall Town Swifts (0-1) and Everton (0-7).

A fourth Old Nottinghamian to play in County’s first season in the Football League was Harry Jackson, who was born on April 23rd 1864. His father, Charles J.Jackson, managed what the School Register rather grandly listed as a “Piscatorial Dépôt”, (probably a fishmongers, or even a fish and chip shop) and the family lived at 23, Carrington Street. Harry played on five occasions; as an outside left at Stoke (0-3), as a centre forward at Burnley (0-1) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (1-2, 1 goal), an inside left at Bolton Wanderers, (3-7, 1 goal), and an inside right at home to Derby County (3-5).

Here is the Burnley kit;
Capture 3 top - Copy - Copy

And here is the Wolverhampton Wanderers’ strip:

Capture 2 top y - Copy

Here are the Bolton Wanderers’ colours. Very little has changed here:

Capture 2 bottom - Copy (2)

In his career with County, Harry also played in 21 F.A.Cup ties, and scored 19 goals. In other games for County, all of which would have been friendlies, he made 101 appearances, and scored 85 goals. This gave Harry Jackson an overall career total of 104 goals in 122 games for Notts County, both totals and a strike rate which  are only exceeded by those of Harry Cursham himself:

h cursham

A fifth Old Nottinghamian in that same inaugural season of 1888-1889 was Edwin Silvester Wardle. Edwin was born on January 11th 1870 and the family lived at Magdala House in Mapperley Road. He attended the High School from 1881-1883. He made two appearances in the League for County, the first as an outside left (No 11) at Goodison Park, Everton, in the very first match of the season (1-2), County’s début in the Football League. Strangely, he then appeared as an outside right in the very last fixture of the campaign, the 3-5 home defeat to Derby County. Prior to this, he had played in six friendlies, scoring three goals, two against Aston Villa (3-3) and one against Halliwell (1-4). He also appeared in four F.A.Cup ties, scoring one goal against Staveley (3-1).

Another particularly disappointed Old Nottinghamian, the sixth to play in that first season of 1888-1889, must have been John Alfred Brown, who made just one appearance for County, as an outside left (No 11) in a game at Villa Park against Aston Villa. County lost narrowly by nine goals to one, watched by an entranced crowd of some 4,000 spectators.

John Alfred Brown was born on March 20th 1866. Along with his elder brother, he entered the High School on August 10th 1874, at the age of eight, although the date when he left the High School remains unknown. He made his first appearances for County towards the end of the 1883-1884 season, when, after the New Year, he played as an inside left in away friendly games at Walsall Swifts (1-2), and Sheffield Attercliffe (0-2). Overall, he played in 34 friendlies between 1884-1888 and he scored a healthy total of 14 goals. Interesting games and scores in 1884-1885 included his two goals in a 5-0 defeat of Wednesbury Old Athletic, and another goal against Hendon in an 8-2 victory. There were also games against Blackburn Olympic (1-1 and 0-3), Preston North End (1-2), Sheffield Wednesday (1-0), the Sheffield Club (3-0), Blackburn Rovers (0-2), Notts Rangers (2-1) and Derby County (0-2). Here are the Blackburn Olympic colours:

Blackburn_Olympic

For the most part, John was an outside left, although he also played at inside left, and inside right. In 1885-1886, he appeared in home games against Bolton Wanderers (3-3) and Great Lever (1-3), and in away games against Queen’s Park (1-5), the Sheffield Club (6-1) and Wellingborough Grammar School (8-3). He scored a goal at Sheffield, although three of the scorers at Wellingborough remain unknown. Two games were at inside left, with one at outside left, and two at centre forward. The following season of  1886-1887, he played at the Sheffield Club (4-1) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (0-2). He also appeared against Preston North End, a game which County were narrow losers by 0-14. Here is the Preston strip:

Capture 2 top y
John’s most successful season was 1887-1888 with 10 goals in 14 appearances. These included Walsall Town (0-4), West Bromwich Albion (1-5), Nottingham Forest (1-0), Preston North End (2-5), Everton (1-3). He played in home fixtures against Leek (8-1), Aston Villa (8-2), Preston North End (2-3), Grimsby Town (4-0), and Corinthians (1-4). A substantial veil might be drawn over Mitchell St.George’s (0-10).

John scored four times against Leek and Aston Villa, with single goals in each game against Preston North End. All of his games were as an inside left.

By the way, the illustrations of old football kits came from the best ever website for the soccer nerd and all the boys who had more than twenty different Subbuteo teams. New Brighton Tower 1898? Oh, yes.

 

 

 

Advertisements

12 Comments

Filed under Derby County, Football, History, Humour, Nottingham, The High School

The very first football season of them all 1888-1889 (Part 1)

At the moment, the High School has very strong  footballing links, both with the Premier League and the Championship. They come in the person of Patrick Bamford, a young man who would seem to have a sparkling footballing future ahead of him:

He is not the only Old Nottinghamian to have played professional football, however. Well over a century ago, for example, a number of old boys took part in that inaugural season of 1888-1889, playing for Notts County in the newly formed Football League.

The season was totally dominated by Preston North End, “The Invincibles”, who beat County on aggregate by 11-1, for example, and were undefeated at the end of the campaign after 22 matches. They dismissed Wolverhampton Wanderers by an aggregate of 9-2 and Stoke City by 10-0. Notts County were to finish in eleventh place out of twelve. Their record of five victories, two draws and fifteen defeats produced a grand total of 12 points, with two for a win and one for a draw. Stoke City also managed 12 points, but their goal average (not difference in those days) was 0.510 as opposed to County’s much more impressive 0.548. That difference of 38 hundredths of a goal was enough for County to escape the Wooden Spoon! Derby County had 16 points and Burnley had 17 points. All four teams were re-elected to the League for the next season:

league table

One Old Nottinghamian who appeared in the County team that season was Arthur Frederick Shaw, of whom I have been, unfortunately, unable to find any photographs whatsoever on the Internet. Arthur was born on August 11th 1869 in Basford. His father was Alfred Shaw (1842-1907), the famous Nottingham and Sussex cricketer:

AlfredShaw_RedLillywhite1876

Shaw senior played for England, and he actually bowled the very first ball ever in the entire history of Test Cricket, which was to the Australian batsman, Charles Bannerman. During his cricketing career, Alfred Shaw took more than 2,000 wickets for Nottinghamshire and Sussex from 1864-1897, before becoming a first class umpire. He died in 1907 at Gedling, Nottingham, and is buried in the churchyard there, close to the grave of Arthur Shrewsbury, the former Nottinghamshire and England batsman:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

At the time when their son entered the High School on April 28th 1881, at the age of ten, the Shaw family was living at the Belvoir Inn in Kirkby Street, Nottingham, a street which no longer exists. The date when he left the High School remains unknown.
Arthur Shaw played just two games for Notts County during that inaugural 1888-1889 season. His first game was on December 8th 1888 at home to Aston Villa, which resulted in a 2-4 defeat for the Magpies. A crowd of some 2,000 spectators watched the game, where Shaw played as an inside right (Number 8, except that there were no numbers in League Football until August 25th 1928). At left full back (No3) was Herbert Durrant Snook, a fellow Old Nottinghamian, with George Hutchinson Brown, a third Old Nottinghamian, playing at right half (No 4). I will talk about these two gentlemen in a later article.
Arthur’s second game came on March 5th 1889, when County entertained Bolton Wanderers at Meadow Lane. A crowd of some 3,000 spectators watched the match, where Arthur played on this occasion as an inside left (Number 10). County lost narrowly by four goals to nil.

Arthur went on to play for Notts County on two more occasions in the Football League. These both came in the following season of 1889-1890, when the team finished in a much improved tenth place in the League. On December 14th 1889, he appeared in a game at Meadow Lane against Wolverhampton Wanderers, watched by 3,000 people and ending in a narrow 0-2 home defeat for the Magpies. A week later, they entertained Derby County and beat them by three goals to one, in front of a Meadow Lane crowd of, again, some 3,000 spectators. On both occasions, Arthur was playing as an outside right, and, again, had there been numbers on the players’ shirts at this time, he would have worn a No 7.

Arthur appeared a number of times for Nottingham Forest, both before and after his appearances for Notts County. At the age of barely eighteen, therefore, well before Forest were a League club, Arthur made his début for them in the 1887-1888 season, scoring the only goal in a 1-1 home draw against Burslem Port Vale. His other game for Forest was a 3-2 home win against Bolton Wanderers, when Shaw scored what turned out to be the winning goal.

During the following season of 1888-1889, Arthur made four appearances for Forest and scored two goals. He played at home against Preston North End (0-2), Newton Heath (2-2, one scorer unknown), and Clapton (3-2, two goals). He played in away games at Newton Heath (1-3), a team who were later to become Manchester United. All of these games were friendlies. Here are some Forest strips from this long ago era. Things have not changed a great deal:

forest 1868 zzzzzz

In the 1889-1890 season, Arthur made eleven appearances for Forest and scored six goals. He played a number of games in the Football Alliance against Long Eaton Rangers, Sunderland Albion, Darwen, Newton Heath and Small Heath (later Birmingham City). The result in this last game, a 0-12 loss, remains Nottingham Forest’s record defeat. Arthur also appeared in the 0-3 away defeat at Derby Midland in the First Round of the F.A.Cup.

Perhaps the most unusual moment in Arthur Shaw’s whole football career came in this 1889-1890 season when he played for both Nottingham Forest and Notts County. He appeared in the Football Alliance for Forest against Sunderland Albion, (3-1) and then, as we have already seen, for County in the Football League against Wolverhampton Wanderers (0-2) and Derby County (2-3). Shaw capped it all on Boxing Day, December 26th 1889, when he turned out for Forest against County in a 1-1 draw in a friendly at Meadow Lane. I presume that this swapping of allegiances was possible because County played in the Football League and Forest played in the Football Alliance. There would have been no connection between the two organisations.

In the 1890-1891 season, playing for Forest as an outside left (No 11), Arthur appeared in the First Round of the F.A.Cup against Clapton. He scored one goal at the wonderfully named Spotted Dog Grounds as Forest won narrowly by 14-0, still the record away score for the F.A.Cup, and indeed, the record away win in any competition. Clapton had only trailed 0-5 at halftime before conceding nine quick goals in the second half. Arthur’s fellow Old Nottinghamian, the “ageing Tinsley Lindley” was also playing:

Tinsley_Lindley

“There’s only one Tinsley Lindley” scored a mere four goals in this one sided game, where five goals came from the Scottish international Sandy Higgins. A third Old Nottinghamian was playing for Forest in the person of John Edward Leighton, called “Ted” or “Teddy” at the High School and later in his life, “Kipper”, for his ability to fall calmly asleep in the dressing room before big matches. He played quite a few of those over the years, but his greatest honour came on March 13th 1886, when he won his only international cap for England, as an outside left in a 6-1 victory over Ireland in Belfast. Teddy Leighton was making his England début in the same team as fellow High School Old Boy, and Nottingham Forest player, Tinsley Lindley, mentioned above. This was one of no fewer than four occasions on which two ex-pupils of the High School have played together for their country. On other occasions, Leighton and Lindley had also played together for the fabled “Corinthians” club.

Overall, Arthur Shaw was to score a grand total of 11 goals in 79 appearances for Nottingham Forest. After he left Forest he went on to score three goals in 11 appearances for Loughborough, who, at the time, were playing in the Football League, Second Division. He would have worn these long forgotten colours:

Loughborough_Town_1895-1900

Arthur’s final appearance of any kind for Nottingham Forest came when he played as a right half in the semi-final of the Bass Charity Cup. The game was away from home, against Leicester Fosse, and took place on April 6th 1899. It finished in a 1-1 draw, and was watched by approximately 1,000 spectators.

Arthur’s final appearance for Nottingham Forest in the Football League had already come in a 0-5 defeat in an away game against Derby County. This fixture took place at the Baseball Ground on April 11th 1898, and the legendary Steve Bloomer scored a hat trick, before a crowd of some 12,000 spectators:

bloomer xxxxxxxx

Only five days later, the same two teams were to contest the F.A.Cup Final at Crystal Palace before a crowd of 62,017, Forest triumphing on this occasion by 3-1. Unfortunately, Shaw did not make the team for the final, his position of right half being filled by Frank Forman. This is the closest, however, that any Old Nottinghamian has come to winning an F.A.Cup winner’s medal but only if you don’t count the School Gardener,

programme

By the way, the illustrations of old football kits came from the best ever website for the soccer nerd and all the boys who had more than twenty different Subbuteo teams. New Brighton Tower 1898? Oh, yes.

 

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under Football, History, Nottingham, The High School

Notts £100 million striker (1877-1891) (second half)

In my previous blogpost about Harry Cursham, the Notts County superstar, I wrote for the most part about his exploits in the F.A.Cup. At the time, the F.A.Cup was the only official competition in existence for football clubs. Apart from international matches, which, with just four countries, permitted only three games per season, Harry could only play in friendly games until some bright spark invented the Football League in 1888.

Here is an abridged version of Harry’s exploits in friendly fixtures. For me, the most wonderful things are the evocative names of some of those long defunct clubs.

In 1877-1878, Harry scored a hat trick on his début at home against Stoke (4-1), and five goals in an away game against Manchester (6-0). He got four in an 8-2 victory over Derby Grammar School, and also appeared in an amazing 1-10 defeat at Southwell. Harry would have worn this kit:

notts_county_1877-1878

The photograph below shows the Notts.County team which played a prestige friendly against Queens’ Park, of Glasgow, Scotland, on November 18th 1877 at Hampden Park.

(back row) Erasmus Keely, Fred Rothera, Arthur Ashwell (Umpire), Harold Greenhalgh, Harry  Cursham, George Seals. (front row) Richard Greenhalgh, Arthur Cursham, Ernest Greenhalgh, Tom Oliver, S.Keely. Henry Jessop is sitting on the floor. As well as Harry, Arthur Ashwell, Arthur Cursham, Henry Jessop, Tom Oliver and George Seals were all ex-High School pupils:

q park

In 1880-1881, Harry scored 13 goals in 10 appearances, including five at home to Sheffield (8-1), a game in which fellow Old Nottinghamian Harold Morse scored the other three goals. He scored five more goals in what was then Notts’ record winning margin, namely 15-1 at home to Newark.

In 1881-1882, Harry produced 21 goals in just 15 appearances. By now an outside left, he scored four at home to Staveley (7-0) and Derby Midland (7-2), and four more away to Pilgrims (5-1). He scored twos at home to the Old Carthusians (5-1) and the Sheffield Club (5-1) and away to Nottingham Forest (5-0). At one point, he managed 16 goals in six consecutive games (1-2-2-2-4-4 ). In addition, the scorers of three goals in a 5-0 victory over the Sheffield Club remain unknown, as do all the goalscorers in a 13-0 rout of Grantham. It is surely beyond credence that Harry did not score at least once in this particular game.

In 1882-1883, he scored 29 goals in 16 appearances. Having moved to centre forward, he opened the season with six goals against a Local Clubs’ XI (10-1) and scored four at home to Stoke (5-0) with four away at Sheffield (8-2). He got a hat trick in a 10-0 home win over Mitchell St.George’s, and scored twos at home against Sheffield (8-1), Liverpool Ramblers (3-1),Walsall (7-2) and Wednesbury Old Athletic (6-1) and away against Aston Villa (2-1). At one point, Harry managed 16 goals in five games (6-2-2-4-2 ). The scorers remain unknown in a 5-1 victory at Stoke:

harry 1

The 1883-1884 season produced 22 goals in 21 appearances. Playing mainly as an outside left, Harry scored four goals in a 5-1 victory over Padiham, and hat tricks at home to Sheffield Attercliffe (6-2) and Brentwood (3-2). He got twos in a 6-1 home victory over the South of England and in a 4-1 home win against Great Lever.

The following season of 1884-1885, he was to score 19 goals in just 22 appearances, with four in an 8-0 home victory over Derby Midland, and twos at home to Sheffield (6-2), Notts Rangers (6-2), Corinthians (3-2), and, most important of all, against Nottingham Forest, in a 3-2 home victory. He played this season mostly as an outside left, but in January, Harry missed the games against Blackburn Olympic (1-1) and Preston North End (2-3), as he was in mourning for his brother, Arthur, who, having recently emigrated, had died in Pera, Florida on Christmas Eve at the age of only 32, of what was variously called malarial fever or yellow fever. In the game against Blackburn Olympic, the County team all wore black crêpe armbands as a mark of respect. Here is the Olympic team:

blackburn1886

Immediately before the start of this season, “Mercutio”, in his “Nottingham Football Annual”, had described Harry Cursham as:

“A grand forward. Plays on either wing, and has distinguished himself in the centre. Is at his best perhaps on the left, in which position he frequently evokes admiration by the brilliancy of his runs. A splendid shot at goal, and altogether one of the best men of the day.”

In 1885-1886 Harry managed hat tricks at home to West Bromwich Albion (4-3) and Nottingham Forest (5-0). The next season there were 15 goals in 23 games as Harry, by now back at inside left, scored goals steadily throughout the season. He cannot, though, have enjoyed Notts’ narrow 0-14 defeat at the hands of Preston North End, “The Invincibles”, who were to win the first ever Football League Championship in 1888-1889. They were one of the greatest teams in the history of the Football League:

preston-north-end-1889-514

In the last season before the establishment of the Football League, 1887-1888, Harry, now operating at either left or right full back scored only 2 goals in 19 games. They both came in a 4-0 home victory over Grimsby Town, one of only three games in the forward line. Here is the Notts kit from 1888-1890:notts_county_1880-1890

In 1888-1889, Harry, still a right back, became one of the small number of High School boys to have played League football. He played eight times and his two goals came when he reverted to centre forward, in home victories over West Bromwich Albion (2-1) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (3-0). The latter effort, scored after two goals from Ted May, was his last goal for Notts County.

In matches other than F.A.Cup ties, therefore, Harry managed a minimum of 158 goals in 183 appearances. When the F.A.Cup ties are added in, his career total becomes a phenomenal 235 goals in 202 appearances. In very many games, of course, the scorers’ names have been lost and we have no means of knowing if that total of 235 is too low.

On March 18th 1882, Harry refereed the friendly match between Nottingham Forest and a Trent-Wanderers Combination. In this match, Forest’s goalkeeper, John Sands, came out of goal, and scored a goal, surely one of the first times that this had ever happened in football history.

Some years after this, Harry refereed the friendly game between Nottingham Forest and Notts Rangers (0-2), one of the Nottingham’s first ever matches under floodlights. The game kicked off at 8 p.m., on Monday, March 25th 1889. The lighting was provided by Wells lights, fourteen of which were set up around the ground. Powered by oil, they provided, in theory, some 14,000 candlepower each. More than 5,000 spectators were attracted to this unusual game.

Given his amazing record as a goalscorer, Harry was to play for England on several occasions:

h cursham

He made his début in 1880 as an outside right, a late replacement in the team as England beat Wales by 3-2 at Wrexham. In 1882, he played as outside left in a record away performance at Belfast in Ireland. Harry scored one goal of England’s thirteen, without reply from the Irish. Here are the Irish, looking very dapper:

M014Ire1882Ire 13-0

Later that year he played as a left half against Scotland in Glasgow, a game the English lost, rather unluckily, by five goals to one. Can you spot the fresh faced Harry in the picture below?

sco 5 eng 1

This particular game was refereed by the splendidly named official, Mr Segar R Bastard. Crowds were to recognise his offspring in innumerable matches down the years.

Harry then scored one goal as England lost by 3-5 to Wales at Wrexham. In February, 1883, he celebrated being in the same England team as his Old Nottinghamian brother, Arthur, by scoring a goal in a 5-0 revenge victory over the Welsh.  In the same month, as an outside left, he helped England beat the Irish by 7-0 at Liverpool. In March 1883, he again appeared with his brother Arthur, this time as a left half, losing to Scotland by 2-3 at Sheffield.

This is the England team which played against Scotland at Sheffield on March 10th 1883. It contained three Notts County players, and two Old Nottinghamians, one of whom, Harry Cursham, is seated second from the left on the middle row. His brother, Arthur Cursham, may be the player seated on the left of the front row, and half back Stuart Macrae is possibly the player at the right hand end of the middle row. Readers may wish to look at other pictures of Notts County, and decide for themselves !

eng v sco 1883

On February 25th 1884, as outside left, Harry scored a hat-trick in England’s 8-1 victory over Ireland in Belfast. This was his last game for England, and he had scored five goals in eight appearances at this level. This remains the record number of England international caps by a Notts County player. What a pity there were only three games per season. What a pity Harry Cursham never played against Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein or Gibraltar. What goals Harry would have scored!

After leaving Notts County, Harry played an unrecorded number of games for Grantham:

Grantham_Town_FC_logoOn March 12th 1891, Harry appeared for the Nottingham High School Old Boys at the Gregory Ground, in their fixture against the current High School First Team. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the Old Boys won by 3-1, with Harry getting their second goal midway through the second half. In 1896, Harry, along with Tinsley Lindley, was invited to play in the first ever “Gentlemen versus Players” game, a prestigious friendly, which would help to make absolutely clear to all the working class spectators the rigid class differences and privileges in force in the hierarchical society of the time. To both men’s credit, they refused the opportunity, preferring to watch a local derby match, Forest v County.

By 1929, Harry was living at “The Firs”, Holme Pierrepoint:

old man

Harry passed away peacefully there on Wednesday, August 6th 1941, at the age of eighty-two. He was survived by his widow, and his daughter, Mrs.R.S.Challands. Harry had two sons. One, Curzon, was a solicitor, while the other son, Francis George, was a Major in the 8th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters during the Great War. He was tragically killed in an accident on active service at Aldershot on August 31st 1918, at the age of only twenty-nine.

Harry’s funeral took place at Holme Pierrepont Parish Church on Saturday, August 9th 1941:

church hpp xxxxxxx

His old friend, the Archdeacon J.P.Hales took the service, assisted by Canon A.D.Allen, the Rector of the parish. Harry was buried behind the church. Harry’s wife, Frances Anne Elizabeth, was to pass away on March 8th 1946, at the age of eighty-two. She was buried with her husband:

grave

Only ten metres away from these two graves lies Harry’s other son, Curzon. He lived to a ripe old age, dying on June 17th 1981 just three weeks short of his 94th birthday. His wife, Sheila Moorhouse Cursham (1891-1968) is interred with him. Next to Harry and Frances lies his son, Francis:

son cursham-granve-a

By the way, the illustrations of the old football kits came from the best ever website for the soccer nerd and all the boys who had more than twenty different Subbuteo teams. New Brighton Tower 1898? Oh, yes.

11 Comments

Filed under Football, History, Nottingham, The High School

School Gardener wins F.A.Cup Medal !!!

During the early months of the Easter Term of 1925, the long serving and popular School Gardener, Mr Kidd, was taken seriously ill. He had worked at the High School for thirty-seven years, and “must have been seen by thousands of boys at his work in front of the school.”  Mr Kidd was not well enough to carry on with his job and, poor man, was eventually to succumb to his illness during the early part of the Summer Term.  He was duly succeeded as the School Gardener by Mr Wragg, whom the “Nottinghamian” called “a footballer and cricketer of great prowess”.

Mr Wragg was paid £3 per week, which was a decent wage in 1925. At the same time, my own Grandad was more than happy to earn £2.20 as his weekly wage in a clay works in South Derbyshire. I have done quite a lot of research about who exactly Mr Wragg was.  Of course, nearly a century after the event, it is impossible to establish the truth without the slightest shred of doubt whatsoever, but I am now 99.9% certain that the High School’s new Gardener was William Arthur “Willie” Wragg.

williamwragg

Willie Wragg was born in Radford, Nottingham in 1875, and initially played local football for Notts Olympic, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Newstead Byron and then Hucknall Portland. He was soon signed by Nottingham Forest and played for them as a professional footballer from 1896-1899. Appearing usually as a left-half, Willie made 48 League appearances in the First Division for Forest and scored one goal. Overall, he played 58 times for Forest in all competitions. This photograph shows the home of Nottingham Forest, the City Ground, during the 1898-1899 season:

City-Ground-1898

Willie made his début at home to Liverpool on November 28th 1896 in a comfortable 2-0 victory. He went on to play a further twelve times in the First Division that season, with a further four appearances in the F.A.Cup. He scored a single goal in a friendly match, a 2-1 victory over Dundee United at Crystal Palace. The following season of 1896-1897, Willie Wragg made 24 appearances in Division One and six in the F.A.Cup. He scored a single goal in the First Division in a 1-1 draw at home to Sunderland. The next season of 1897-1898 was his last at Forest. He played 13 times with most of his games coming as a left fullback. His final appearance came as a left half in a 0-0 draw at home to local rivals Notts County in front of a crowd of some 16,000 spectators. Here is Notts County’s magpie kit on that long ago Saturday, September 4th 1897. The crowd was a very respectable 15,000 spectators:

notts_county_1890-1900

As far as the boys are concerned the School Gardener can be a rather anonymous figure, working away quietly at the front of the school, a man whom the majority of pupils would not even notice. They were probably unaware of his lengthy pedigree as a professional footballer, but many hundreds of those unknowing little boys would have given a great deal to get their hands on what Willie Wragg had won during his three years at Forest, namely a Winner’s Medal from an F.A.Cup Final.

Willie had played at Crystal Palace on April 16th 1898 in front of a crowd of 62,017 spectators, when Nottingham Forest beat Derby County, Steve Bloomer and all, by three goals to one. Here is the front of the programme:

programme

And here is the back:$(KGrHqFHJE4FGNV2GFfCBRonbILDSQ~~60_35

From his position as a left-half, Willie actually created Forest’s first goal, for it was from his free kick on the left near the touchline, that the ball eventually reached Arthur Capes who hit  the back of the net through a crowd of defenders.  Here is a picture of the game in progress…IMAGE_386

And here is a second photograph from a little further back…

Capture

Later in the game, Wragg aggravated an injury suffered in the first-half, and, in the days before substitutes, was forced to move out on to the wing, not taking much further part in the game.That did not stop his appearance on the souvenir cigarette card…

$_35

Willie then left Forest, to go and play for Leicester Fosse in the Second Division. He spent two seasons at Leicester, making 50 appearances and scoring four goals. He was perhaps a little slower now and played at full back. Willie also became the club’s free kick specialist. He went on to appear just once for Small Heath (later to become Birmingham City), but he was unfortunately unable to displace George Adey from the team. His footballing career then rather petered out as he played for Watford in the Southern League and then Hinckley Town in the Midland League. His Football League career began again with Chesterfield Town (20 appearances, no goals) before a final return to non-League football with Accrington Stanley, Doncaster Rovers and finally Brighton & Hove Albion. Overall, Willie Wragg had made 119 appearances in the Football League.

Personally I believe that Willie Wragg may well have acquired his job as School Gardener at the High School through his past career at Nottingham Forest. At the time of the Cup win in 1898, the club’s then Chairman was Mr William Thomas Hancock, a prominent Old Boy of the High School, who had retired as Chairman of Nottingham Forest in 1920, only five years before Willie Wragg was appointed as the School Gardener. In 1925 Mr Hancock was still a Life Member of the football club.

Most romantically of all though, perhaps ex-Chairman Hancock still remembered his day of glory when he posed on the Official Photograph of the F.A.Cup Winners of 1898 and knew exactly who had done more than his share to make possible that unique and unrepeatable thrill of being a winner. Mr Hancock is the gentleman third from the left on the back row.

forest team

Indeed, in 1898, when this photograph was taken of the players in the victorious team at Crystal Palace, how proud Mr Hancock must have been to stand with them:

back row: H.Hallam (Secretary), T.McInnes, Mr W. T. Hancock (Chairman), A.Ritchie, D.Allsop, unknown, A.Scott, unknown, A.Spouncer, G.Bee (Trainer)

front row:  C.H.Richards, Frank Forman, J.McPherson, W.A.Wragg, A.Capes

sitting:  L.Benbow

The photograph is, in itself, quite interesting, because it is one of two very similar photographs. In one of them, Forest posed with the cup, and in the other, they were photographed without it. The reason for this was that the crowd for the F.A.Cup Final was 62,000 spectators and almost all of them invariably invaded the playing area after the end of the game. This made it quite impossible to take a proper photograph of the winning team. And certainly the crowds do look huge and they seem to be pretty much left to their own devices…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The usual convention, therefore, was that both teams were photographed before the match, in conditions of complete calm, the photographers taking two pictures of each, one as victors with the trophy, the other as losers without it.  Afterwards, the two irrelevant photos were destroyed, although this has clearly not happened in this case.

It is also known that in this particular year, enormous problems were experienced with Forest’s red shirts and blue shorts, which did not show up particularly well in the comparatively dull weather conditions.

forest kit

The photographers therefore asked them to pose in Derby’s kit, wearing white shirts and black shorts. Perhaps this is why they look especially miserable, although, of course, Forest were certainly to have the last laugh.

Whatever the reason for Willie Wragg becoming the School Gardener, though, there was certainly an enormous connection between the football club and the High School. Almost forty Old Nottinghamians had already played for Forest, especially in the 1880s, and many of them had represented the club in important cup games, including semi-finals. By 1925, they were all just of the age to occupy important administrative posts in the club and certainly Tinsley Lindley had been a Committee member at Forest.

tinsley

Another familiar face at the City Ground was an Old Nottinghamian who had made his England début alongside Tinsley Lindley in a 6-1 victory over Ireland in Belfast. This was John Edward Leighton, called “Teddy” when he was at school, or, when he played for Forest, “Kipper”, because of his incredible ability to fall asleep in the dressing room before games. Indeed, old Mr Leighton was to fall asleep for the very last time at the City Ground, on the afternoon of Saturday, April 15th 1944, at the age of seventy-nine after a fatal seizure. His sudden demise occurred during a Wartime Cup tie between Nottingham Forest and Northampton Town, a fixture in which the Reds were eventually to triumph by 1-0. Here is “Kipper” though, on a better, and younger, day, sitting with all his pals, it is thought, in the Church Cemetery on Forest Road. They are all wearing the same bright scarlet shirts, and they are universally known as “The Garibaldi Reds” One day they will win the European Cup. Twice.

teddy

7 Comments

Filed under Derby County, Football, History, Nottingham, The High School