Tag Archives: Nottingham Forest

“Hilarity with Heraldry” (1)

Dr Sheldon Cooper is famous for his series of podcasts “Fun with Flags”:

I have always enjoyed vexillology enormously but I would have to confess to an even greater love for heraldry, the study of coats of arms. I don’t really have the time to launch “Hilarity with Heraldry” in any great depth, but I don’t think anybody would find it particularly boring to take a brief look back at some old football, or soccer, badges.
I used to read a comic called “Tiger” when I was a boy and in one issue they sowed the seeds of my interest when they gave away, free, an album of football club badges. This was on an unknown date in 1961, so we are looking back quite a long way. Here’s the album:

The picture comes from ebay where the albums can sell for quite good prices. So too do the 1967 versions of the album, entitled “Roy Race’s Album of Football Club Badges” in honour of the fictional star of the fictional Melchester Rovers. Roy Race was Tiger comic’s “Roy of the Rovers”:

In both 1961 and 1967 the buyer was given the booklet and then in the succeeding weeks, he received sheets of paper with around 30 small badges printed on them. He then had to cut out the badges carefully and then stick them in the booklet with extreme care and glue.

Most boys couldn’t do this, which makes it extremely difficult to buy a booklet where they are stuck in straight, and are not over-trimmed, or, in some cases, they are not stuck in upside down.

This album has a pretty good start to page one. although there is a slight crease:

This is average:

I would not buy this. They are crooked and cut out wrongly. At least two are in the wrong position:

These three are shockers:

And these two badges below are simply the wrong way round. Blackpool is a seaside holiday town with seagulls and BW may conceivably stand for “Bolton Wanderers”. And if this page is like that, the other ones will all be of a similar quality:

I was at an indoor market a few years ago when I bought several colour pages of football, cricket and rugby club badges which dated from the 1950s. The badges seemed to divide into four groups. The first were obviously based on the coat of arms of the town which the club represented. This is Notts County with the tree from Sherwood Forest. Whoever or whatever holds the shield up is called the “supporters” and Notts County have the normal two, namely a lion and some other unknown mammal, possibly on otter, or perhaps a weasel. On top of the shield is the “crest” which, in this case, is a tower from Nottingham Castle. “On top of the shield” is just an optical illusion. The crest actually used to rest on top of the knight’s helmet, so a tower is, to say the least, a challenging choice for his neck muscles. The only bit of the helmet that you can see is the padding between the tower and the metal helmet, which is yellow and green and is called the “wreath” or, because it is twisted, the “torse”:

This is Nottingham Forest with the same type of thing. The supporters are stags and on the shield is a green rustic type cross with three crowns that I know nothing about, I’m afraid.

A similar badge was used for the Nottinghamshire cricket team:

In heraldry, what we would call colours, or tinctures to use the technical phrase, are divided into two groups. The first group is called ‘colours’ and the second is called ‘metals’. All of them have Norman French names. The metals are ‘or’ and ‘argent’, which are ‘gold’ and ‘silver’. The colours are red or ‘gules’ which comes from the word for the mouth of an animal, “la gueule”. ‘Azur’  is easy as it obviously comes from azure blue. ‘Vert’ is green and it has survived a thousand years into modern French, much like ‘purpure’ which is actually a very rare colour. ‘Sable’ is black and comes from the fur for coats, It’s a sort of rich man’s ferret, apparently:

There is just one rule about all these tinctures. Colours cannot go on top of colours and metals cannot go on top of metals. This is because Heraldry was designed for the purposes of identification in battle so everything has to be exceptionally obvious and visible. Here’s the somewhat over dressed queue for the fish and chip shop after a hard day’s peasant slaughtering:

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Bygone football clubs (2)

Last time, I looked for the most part at the early days of Notts County and Nottingham Forest. They were not the only football teams to play their fixtures down on the Forest, though. A veritable plethora of small local teams flourished in Nottingham during this era. They had some wonderful names, all marvellously evocative of the origins of their players:

“Notts Artisans, Notts Athletic, Nottingham Bank, Nottingham Castle, Notts Forest Swifts, Nottingham Co-op, Nottingham Lindum, the Nottingham Manufacturing Company, Notts County Rovers, Nottingham Lace, the Notts Law Club, Notts Magdala, Notts Pioneers, Nottingham Postmen, Nottingham Post Office, Nottingham Press, Notts Thursday Athletic, Notts Thursday Rovers, Nottingham Thursday Wanderers, Nottingham Strollers, Nottingham Trent, and Nottingham Trinity.

All of the “Thursday teams” would have been from Sherwood, given the day when the shops closed for the afternoon in this northerly suburb of the town. Have a wild guess when it was half day closing in Sheffield. Yes, on a Wednesday. But what about the little Welsh town of Abergavenny?

Here is a sleepy Sherwood as recently as the early 1950s. How many houses have been demolished to make way for charity shops and empty premises!

pivcture

Not much is known about many of the smaller Nottingham clubs, except that their names sometimes figure in the very early rounds of the fledgling FA Cup. I would be very surprised indeed, though, if there were any connection between Nottingham Trent Football Club and Nottingham Trent University.

In the list above, mention is made of Notts Law Club. They played the High School on an unknown date during the Christmas holidays of 1879-1880 and duly beat their young opponents by 3-0. All three goals were strongly disputed by the High School and no further fixtures appear ever to have taken place against this opposition. Notts Law Club was the original team of the most brilliant outside right of his day, Arthur Cursham, who played for Notts County, among many other clubs, and eventually captained England. Notts Law Club, though, were an extremely violent set of individuals, and gained such a reputation for rough play and a willingness to argue the toss about every single decision that other local teams soon became unwilling to arrange fixtures with them. Indeed, so hostile was the general local reaction to the Notts Law Club that the team was eventually forced to disband completely. Notts Law Club never had a player who won an Olympic Gold Medal, but one of the other little teams did:

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This team was Notts Magdala F.C., who had a very famous player in the person of Frederick William Chapman, an Olympic Gold Medal winner in the United Kingdom team in the 1908 Olympics held in London. Here is a photograph of the team which won a hard fought Final against Denmark by 2-0, with the first goal coming from that very same Fred Chapman of Notts Magdala F.C. and also of the High School, which he had attended from 1891-1898. In the Olympic Final, Fred played as a central defender. The second goal was scored by the era’s legendary amateur centre forward, Vivian Woodward. Previously the United Kingdom had defeated Sweden by 12-1 and Holland by 4-0. Arguably, their Olympic victory made England, who provided all of the players for the United Kingdom team, Champions of the World. Fred Chapman is the second player from the right on the back row:

gold medalFred Chapman was still a relative unknown, however, even when he became one of the Notts Magdala club’s eleven Vice-Presidents, and later the Honorary Secretary and Treasurer. The club had 55 members and its playing captain was another Old Nottinghamian, John Barnsdale, (1878 –1960) born in Sherwood and later to play for Nottingham Forest on 28 occasions during the 1904-1905 season.  He was living at Lenton Hall around this time:

lenton

Houses must have been cheaper then. John Barnsdale was already Fred Chapman’s godfather, and years afterwards, became his “Uncle Jack”, when Fred married his sister, Evelyn Mary Barnsdale.

Not all of the local clubs on the Forest were called after the town. Prominent sides also included Basford Rovers and Sneinton Institute. It must all have been extremely colourful. Just a few of the old clubs’ colours have survived, and I thought it might be nice to recall them using present day teams who wear the same colours.

Notts Druids wore amber and black quarters, as do Hesketh Bank AFC most Saturdays in the West Lancashire Football League Premier Division:

black amber heketh bank xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxNotts Olympic lasted from 1884-1893.  They wore pink and white, rather like Portsmouth FC used to wear from 1898-1909, just before they joined Division 3:

pink whiteNottingham Press, appropriately perhaps for a team of journalists, wore all black, rather like DFC United in the USA. Another local team who wore all black were Notts Swifts.

all black dc utd.jpg xxxxx

Nottingham Rangers, who still exist, used to wear scarlet and white shirts. So did Notts Wanderers. Either team might have played in this kit, found in an online catalogue:

scarket white 1

or in this one, worn by Ottawa Fury FC in the North American Soccer League:

fury xxxxxx

or like the slightly more boring Charlton Athletic:

scarlet white bobbyor perhaps Stoke City:

 

scarley white 3

Nottingham Rovers used to play in black and white, perhaps like these gentlemen:

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Or like this old kit of Glossop North End AFC now in the North West Counties Football League Premier Division after a brief spell in the Football League:

black white glossop n e

I cannot really imagine that they wore the same kit as Portuguese team, Boavista:

proposta

Nottingham Scottish used to wear white shirts and blue shorts, exactly like Rangers’ away strip:

rangers white, bluxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Only the fabrics change in football kits. The colours of the shirts never seem to change very much.

These are Fred Chapman’s Amateur International caps:

chapman caps

I will tell you more about his career in another blogpost. By the way, the illustrations of old football kits came from the best ever website for the soccer nerd and all those boys who had more than twenty different Subbuteo teams. New Brighton Tower 1898? Oh, yes.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Football, History, Nottingham, The High School

Bygone football clubs (1)

Over the years, the Forest Recreation Ground has been used for many, very varied, sporting activities. Here is a modern map:

forest

In the medieval period, bear baiting had been probably the first activity on the Forest, with a horse racing course eventually being constructed on the very same site.

Originally the racecourse measured four miles long, but in the early 1700s, this was shortened to two miles. In 1797 a new track in the form of a figure-of-eight was laid out. Unfortunately, this rather strange layout was not successful, and another more conventional course, therefore, oval in shape, was constructed soon afterwards

By the 1860s though, the racecourse was in decline, offering only small prizes, and attracting only second rate horses.  The last race meeting took place on September 29th-30th 1890, and Nottingham’s horse racing subsequently moved to Colwick.

Around 1800, the centre of the racecourse had been used as a place of exercise by the many officers of the cavalry who lived in a distinctive Georgian building on Forest Road. Familiar to all High School pupils, it played host to a tiny sweet shop originally called “Baldry’s” and, more recently, “Dicko’s”. It is now a bakery. Most of those cavalry officers were destined to charge at the Battle of Waterloo:

Scotland_Forever

By 1849, cricketers were using the western end of the Forest for practice, and they soon moved to the centre of the racecourse to play professional games for large sums of money.

It is not really known when football was first played on the Forest. A group of young men regularly met there in the early 1860s, to play a primitive kind of field hockey called “shinney”. They soon thought of giving this up to play the new sport of football.

An initial meeting was convened therefore in the upstairs room of the then Clinton Arms in Shakespeare Street, and the “Forest Foot Ball Club” was duly formed in 1865.

Their first fixture on the Forest was on Thursday, March 22nd 1866, a friendly game between Fifteen of the Forest, and Thirteen of the Notts Club. The game was eventually played between Seventeen of the Forest and Eleven of the Notts, and, according to some sources, was goalless, Nottingham Forest’s first ever goal being scored in their third game, another friendly on the Forest against Notts County, which finished as a 1-1 draw.

Other contradictory sources say, however, that the initial game finished as a 1-0 victory for Nottingham Forest, with Old Nottinghamian, William Henry Revis, providing the decisive score.

One early newspaper article, described how:

“When the men were spread out, the field looked exceedingly picturesque, with the orange and black stripes of the Notts, and the red and white of the Foresters.”

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One of Nottinghamshire’s greatest early footballers, E.H.Greenhalgh, who played for England in the first ever international match against Scotland in 1872, was to write, of football on the Forest:

“The first set of players who came out were regarded as a company of harmless
lunatics who amused themselves by kicking one another’s shins, but did no great harm to the public at large, although in earlier days they would have been put in the stocks.”

Richard Daft, wrote in similar vein…

“When a young man I played regularly with the Notts County Football Club when it was first formed. I believe I played centre forward, but I am not quite sure about this as we were never very particular in those days about keeping in one place. Charging and dribbling were the chief features of the game at that time, and often very rough play was indulged in.”

The exact location of Nottingham Forest’s pitches has never been ascertained for certain. My own researches have led me to believe that they must have been immediately to the east of what is now the “Park-and-ride” car park, at the bottom of the slight slope, but I have no way of being totally sure about this. Look for the orange arrow:

Untitled forest

Forest certainly had major problems with their location, however, when they entered the F.A.Cup from 1878 onwards. The Forest was common land, with free access for all, but the regulations of the F.A.Cup stipulated that an admission charge had to be levied. For this reason, “Forest Foot Ball Club” had to move to the Meadows area for the 1879-1880 cup campaign.

This was not, of course, before the club had introduced various innovations. Samuel Weller Widdowson had invented the shin guard, which was first worn on the Forest in 1874. In 1878, the first ever referee’s whistle in the world was heard on the Forest, most probably in a game between Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Norfolk. It was blown by Mr C.J.Spencer, and marked the first step in a long, long journey of what shall we say, talking points?

zid

The club’s departure however, did not mean that the Forest itself was suddenly devoid of football clubs. Throughout the Victorian era, football was always to remain the main sport, played by scores of different local teams, all wearing their own unique and brightly coloured shirts and shorts.

Indeed, at this time, there were so many local teams using the pitches that the High School were frequently unable to fulfil their own fixtures on Saturdays, but instead had to play on Wednesdays, occasionally Thursdays, or even Tuesdays. At the time, of course, Wednesday was half day closing for shops and businesses in Nottingham, and Thursday was half day closing in Sherwood.

On these half days, it was by no means unusual to see footballers on buses and trams, travelling to their game, already changed into their kit. A newspaper at the time wrote of

“persons hurrying to the Forest football grounds, and dozens of players in full
rig making their way in the same direction,”

Notts County wore black and orange hoops, and at least three other kits:

notts county

Nottingham Forest had always worn their famous “Garibaldi Red”. Here are some of their oldest kits, with only minor changes from year to year, and those sexy shorts getting shorter and shorter:

forest 1868 zzzzzz

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

Forest and County were not the only football clubs in Nottingham.  Next time I will look at some of the less well known local teams in the area at the end of the Victorian era and before the First World War.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Match-fixing (1)

Corruption in football is nothing new. More than a century ago, in 1900, Burnley goalkeeper Jack Hillman attempted to corrupt the Nottingham Forest goalkeeper and the other players by giving them £2 each to let Burnley win on the last day of the season and perhaps thereby escape relegation. It didn’t work. Burnley went down with 27 points from 34 games, along with Glossop North End who managed only 18. Here’s Hillman, apparently twenty minutes after the invention of angora sweaters::

jack-hillman-264x300

Had the bribe succeeded, Burnley would have overtaken and relegated Preston North End (28 points) who would have taken their place in Division Two. Hillman was called to account by the authorities, but amazingly, they didn’t accept his explanation of “I was only having a laugh!” He got a rather lenient twelve month ban, although this meant no pay for that period and the loss of a benefit match which would have netted him around £300. Even worse for him, though, was the fact that he never played international football for England again, having just broken into the team
In 1905, at the opposite end of the table, Manchester City were trying to win the League title. Billy Meredith, their star winger, decided to make the task a little bit easier by offering the Aston Villa players £10 to let them win. Like Hillman, Meredith received a year long ban, but rocked the footballing boat by alleging that he had been ordered to bribe the Aston Villa player, Alex Leake, by his Manchester City manager, Tom Maley. Bribery, said Meredith, was common practice at Manchester City who finished the 1904-1905 season in third place behind champions Newcastle United and Everton. A whole selection of players were suspended, as were members of the club staff and directors from the boardroom. Here’s Meredith. He looks like he’s wearing in a new moustache for his shy, and rather strange, German penfriend:

meredith

Meredith actually wrote an open letter to the Athletic News:

“You approve of the severe punishment administered by the Commission AGAINST ME and state that the offence I committed at Aston Villa should have wiped me out of football forever. Why ME ALONE? when I was only the spokesman of others equally guilty.”

In 1915, Liverpool played so poorly as they lost 2-0 to relegation-threatened Manchester United that one of the many bookmakers who had taken bets on the game refused to pay out, at odds of 7-1.  He had probably heard of the clandestine meetings of players in the pubs of Manchester and Liverpool. And the poor old bookmaker was completely right. In the United team, Sandy Turnbull, Enoch West and Arthur Whalley were the guilty men and in the Liverpool team it was the fault of Tom Miller, Bob Purcell, Jackie Sheldon and the rather appropriately named Thomas Fairfoul. Can you spot the guilty players in this old picture of Manchester United?

wh turn wets

Would you like a second go?

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It looks like Liverpool are not quite so helpful towards the local detectives:

liverpool 1915

And no, the man with the cap is the trainer.

Jackie Sheldon as an ex-United man was the mastermind behind the coup but not everybody in the two teams was happy to cheat in this way. Both Fred Pagnam (Liverpool) and George Anderson (United) refused to participate. Indeed, when Pagnam shot and hit the opposing crossbar his teammates all showed their anger with him. It was perhaps his own fault, as before the match he had threatened to score a goal to spoil their nasty little plan. By now, whiter-than-white Billy Meredith was a United player, but everybody had taken great care not to tell him about what was happening and nobody passed to him throughout the game…something which, of course, aroused his suspicions as to what exactly was going on.  A penalty was missed by such a distance that the ball only just failed to hit the corner flag.  The crowd, feeling they had wasted their penny entrance money, grew increasingly angry with the proceedings.

Overall though, things were getting very much out of hand with match fixing. As an example, all seven of the Liverpool-Manchester United match fixers, along with an eighth player, Lawrence Cook of Stockport County, were banned from football sine die. (that effectively means “for life”)
Cynics might say that that was a fairly limp punishment as professional football had already been suspended because of the war. The even more cynical would point out that the Naughty Eight were given hints about a possible return to football, but only if they signed up for the Army and survived the carnage of the Western Front:

somme

A succession of away games on the Somme and at Passchendaele gave seven of the Naughty Eight their promised lifting of the ban. Fairfoul in fact turned away from football but the other six went back to their previous employment. For some reason “Lucky Enoch” West did not have his ban rescinded until 1945 when he was 59 years of age.

The_Battle_of_the_Somme_film_image1

Poor Sandy Turnbull had to be contented with a posthumous permission to resume his footballing career. He joined the 23rd Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment before a free transfer to the 8th Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment. He became Lance-Sergeant Turnbull and was killed on May 3rd in the Battle of Arras at the age of 33.  Sandy was the son of James and Jessie Turnbull, of I, Gibson St., Kilmarnock, Ayrshire and the husband of Florence Amy Turnbull, of 17, Portland Rd., Gorse Hill, Stretford, Manchester. He had won FA Cup medals with both Manchester City and Manchester United:

Deadgerman

The Grim Reaper has no favourites though. Sandy has no known grave and his death is commemorated along with that of almost 35,000 others from the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand who died in this fairly pointless battle and whose bodies have never been identified. Overall, the Battle of Arras was quite a slaughter. Nearly 160,000 British lads and about 125,000 young Germans renounced their right ever to play football again. In a mere five weeks. Here is Polygon Wood where Sandy had tried to mark out a football pitch for himself and his pals:

polygonwood

Alas, they didn’t realise that a Great War average of one ton of explosives per yard of trench was going to be a really, really big problem with that.

 

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Where did those three “merles” come from? Part Three

Last time, we looked at this shield which is that of Thomas Becket also known as Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Thomas of London, and later Thomas à Becket.

Becket-arms

Born in probably 1118 or 1120, he became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162 but was then martyred in Canterbury Cathedral on December 20th 1170 by followers of Henry II, namely Reginald fitzUrse, Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy, and Richard le Breton.

Surely this coat of arms is the easy and direct link with the “merles” of Dame Agnes Mellers?

badge

If you were scared stiff that your husband was on his way to Hell, then what better saint to recruit to your aid than the Numero Uno of English saints, the Head Honcho of martyrdom in England?  As one expert TV commentator recently said, in that original programme (to which, by now, I was giving my fullest attention):

“The most important English saint, by a wide margin.”

I think that Dame Agnes, like so many ordinary football supporters nowadays, did not have her own coat of arms or badge, but instead she was very attached to those of her hero. Not Nottingham Forest or Notts County for her, of course, but Thomas à Becket.

Perhaps Dame Agnes used to display Thomas à Becket’s coat of arms because, as a very pious  and religious person, a vowess of the future indeed, she had  already been on a pilgrimage to see the saint’s tomb in Canterbury Cathedral:

camterbury cathedrzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Dame Agnes may have done this on her husband’s behalf or she may have done it because it was what thousands and thousands of English Christians had always done over the centuries. Perhaps in the three hundred and fifty years since Becket’s death, a tacky tourist trade had built up, and Dame Agnes was able to buy her very own copy of the great saint’s shield, which she had then hung up over her mantelpiece for all her friends to see. We will never know, but for me, the visual coincidence between the two coats of arms is quite stunning. Black birds, of course, are not particularly common on heraldic shields. Eagles, yes, but not a great deal beyond that. Everybody preferred lions.

Game set and match for my theory is the coat of arms of Sir Thomas More (1478-1535), the Lord Chancellor of Henry VIII but more significantly perhaps, the second most important English saint, venerated by all English Catholics as Saint Thomas More. When King Henry wanted to divorce the barren Queen Catherine of Aragon in the hope of fathering a male heir with Anne Boleyn as his new, younger, sexier, more fertile and six fingered Queen, Sir Thomas More “steadfastly refused to take the oath of supremacy of the Crown in the relationship between the kingdom and the church in England.”

More would not retreat from his belief in the supremacy of the Pope over the King. He was beheaded on July 6th 1535. Before he died, More proclaimed to the watching crowd, that he was:

“the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”:

execution

As a young man Thomas had thought seriously more than once of giving up his legal career to become a monk. And now he was a martyr, and well on his way to becoming a saint.

It would be amazing, of course, if his father had had no influence on his growing son. How could the young Saint Thomas have been so pious and so spiritual had his father not influenced him at any point? Clearly, Sir John must have been a very staunch Catholic to have produced a son like Thomas. Here is the only known depiction of Sir John:

220px-Sir_John_More_xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

That pious father of the saint, Sir John More, was born around 1451 and died in 1530. He was a lawyer and eventually became a judge. As he rose in society, he was offered the chance of a coat of arms of his own. He may have been told of the possibility of having a shield with a striking visual pun. There is an heraldic bird called a moorcock, which is based on the male black grouse, a bird of the high moors, and is characterized in heraldry by its two projecting tail feathers:

moorcock-261x300

An ordinary cockerel has a curved over tail, and in heraldry is really much less desirable, quite often being referred to as a “dunghill cockerel”:

cock-265x300

Sir John was left to make his choice. You’ll find out what it was next time.

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Where did those three “merles” come from? Part Two

Last time, I posed a number of questions about the three black birds on the school crest, the so-called “merles”, and the coats of arms of a number of different families with the surname Meller, Mellers, Mellor and even Mellors:

Notts Crest COLOUR xxxxxxxxxxx

If you remember, I was far from convinced that there was any connection between Dame Agnes and any of these families, the closest of them a minimum of a week’s journey away in Manchester. I was equally doubtful about the existence of “merles” as a bird in English heraldry. Indeed, overall, in English, the word “merle” does not really seem to relate particularly strongly to birds at all.

Wikipedia, for example, states that “merle” is a first name used by both men and women, a surname of French origin, a rather beautiful pattern in dogs’ coats, another name for the wine grape Merlot, a German glider originally built in 1938 for the 1940 Olympics gliding competition, a Crusader fort near Tantura on the coast of Israel and finally mentions the fact that the MS Phocine, a ferry, was originally named MS Merle.

In the bird world, Wikipedia states that it is a name for the “Icterid varieties of which the male is predominantly black, especially the Common Blackbird, Turdus merula.” The first word is the Latin for thrush, and “merula” means Blackbird.
I need to say here that “Icterids” are exclusively American birds such as grackles, orioles, cowbirds, meadowlarks and bobolinks:

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Back to Wikipedia, which continues with the fact that “merula” gives the French their word “merle” and also gives the Scots their word “merl”. According to Wiktionary, it is also an “English 19th century bird name from merle, blackbird, possibly also a variant of Muriel”. That is in itself quite interesting as many common birds in Merrye Olde Englande had their own human names. Jack Daw. Mag Pie. Jenny Wren, Robin Redbreast. Sparrows were called Philip because of their chirping call. A modern equivalent would be the Soviet ruler, Joe Starling.
Very tenuous links between Dame Agnes and merles therefore, made all the more tenuous by another, etymological, dictionary,  which states that “merle” is a late fifteenth century word which nowadays “owes its survival in modern times to its use by Scottish poets.” And how many fifteenth century Scottish poets can you name? Or any living, modern ones come to that?
Scotland, of course, is even further away from Dame Agnes than Manchester. And just in case you see a possible link between Dame Agnes and the “late fifteenth century”, don’t forget that the alleged Mellers’ coat of arms wasn’t ever used by her, and first appeared only in 1808.

Sooooo, where did that coat of arms come from?

Well, just for a moment, let’s go back to that idea that Dame Agnes was a lifelong staunch Roman Catholic with a very real fear of Hell for wrongdoers, especially those who might have cheated their customers a bit, perhaps when they were flogging them very large and very expensive bells.

One evening, sitting comatose in front of our TV set, I happened to see this coat of arms on a documentary programme as the camera panned down the High Street of a famous city:

Canterbu
The city was, of course, Canterbury. But where did the City of Canterbury find those striking and exciting  black birds? Well, it’s not a huge surprise:

Becket-arms

The shield above is that of Thomas Becket also known as Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Thomas of London, and later Thomas à Becket. Born in December of probably 1118 or 1120, he became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162 but was then martyred in Canterbury Cathedral on December 20th 1170 by followers of Henry II, namely Reginald fitzUrse, Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy, and Richard le Breton.

Here is an account of the slaying, written by eyewitness Edward Grim. Edward must have been an extremely brave man. Completely unarmed, the young clerk stood up to four knights dressed in chain mail, all of them equipped with the heavy savage swords of the era. Edward was gravely wounded in the incident, as he tried in vain to protect Becket (Reader discretion is advised):

“The wicked knight leapt suddenly upon him, cutting off the top of the crown of his head. Next he received a second blow on the head, but still he stood firm and immovable. At the third blow he fell on his knees and elbows, offering himself a living sacrifice, and saying in a low voice, “For the name of Jesus and the protection of the Church, I am ready to embrace death.” But the third knight inflicted a terrible wound as he lay prostrate. By this stroke, the crown of his head was separated from the head in such a way that the blood white with the brain, and the brain no less red from the blood, dyed the floor of the cathedral:

Murder_of_Thomas_BecketThe same clerk who had entered with the knights (not Edward Grim) placed his foot on the neck of the holy priest and precious martyr, and, horrible to relate, scattered the brains and blood about the pavements, crying to the others, ‘Let us away, knights; this fellow will arise no more.”

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Soon after this famously gory death, Thomas was promoted to sainthood by Pope Alexander III. Canterbury Cathedral subsequently became the most important centre of pilgrimage in England, most famously for Geoffrey Chaucer.

The birds on Thomas à Becket’s shield have red feet and red beaks and they are nowadays called “choughs”, although apparently in medieval times, they were often referred to by pilgrims as “beckitts”.

chough_nb_tcm9-94034

I feel sure that there is some kind of clue here:

columbo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Where did those three “merles” come from? Part One

Not many people would be able to answer this question.

What exactly is “Ermine a Lozenge Argent charged with three Blackbirds rising proper on a Chief Gules an open Book also proper garnished Or between two Ducal Coronets of the last.” ?

Well, it’s one of these, more or less. What’s a lozenge between friends?:

Notts Crest COLOUR xxxxxxxxxxx

The origin of the High School’s coat of arms has always been, to me, a major enigma. Apparently, there has always supposed to have been a connection between the arms of Dame Agnes’ family, namely “Mellers” and another family called Mellor, who lived in Mellor, a village between Stockport and Glossop.

(Where?)

(Well, let’s put it this way. in either town you can easily get a bus to Manchester. It’s a distance of some seven miles and twelve miles respectively)

Here is their coat of arms:

0mellor coat of

To me though there is quite a difference in spelling between Mellor and Mellers, although the Mellor coat of arms is obviously a reasonable fit with the school’s crest.

This theory, though, does rely almost totally on the supposition that Richard Mellers was related to this “Family in the North” whose coat of arms displayed three black birds. In actual fact, there is no reason to suppose any proven link whatsoever between the two families. After all, it’s a very long way between Nottingham and Stockport in late medieval times. More than ninety miles, in fact. The best part of a week on foot, not counting any unexpected meetings with Robin Hood and his Merrie Men.

Let’s look at a small number of other likely coats of arms. Let’s start with Mellers. It should be said that Dame Agnes herself always spelt her name as “Mellers” (but never as “Mellor”):

For “Mellers”, we find very few coats of arms, but there is this one:

meller_c

Let’s try “Meller”. We do find this one, and furthermore, the very same shield is listed elsewhere as “Mellers” :

meller_cThat’s not the answer, though,, because we also find this shield for Meller, as well:

meller-ireland

And this one:

meller_large irish

And this one:

Smeller red

Clearly, something, somewhere, is not quite right. It may even be very wrong. There are problems here, and the first major one may well be connected with the simple issue of the spelling of Dame Agnes’ surname. Despite her own insistence on Mellers, mentioned above, a quick look at “Google Images” will reveal that Mellers, Mellor, Meller and probably Mellors, appear to be disturbingly interchangeable.Coats of arms just seem to come and go. They are different every tine you look at Google. This is because, I suspect, they are connected less with accurate heraldry than the desire to sell tee-shirts, mugs, key rings, ties and even underpants with your family crest on them.

Those black birds on the High School shield have always been regarded as Blackbirds, an everyday bird species in England:

blackbird

The theory is that the heraldic word for a blackbird is “merle”, taken from the French, and this gives us a devilishly funny pun for the surname “Mellers”. Such side splitters are called “Canting Arms”. They are used to  establish a visual pun, as in the following examples:

canting
I am just not sure about this word “merle”. Just because a coat of arms contains a number of black birds (as opposed to green ones), that does not automatically mean that we are dealing with canting arms, even if the French word “merle” refers to our familiar back garden bird, the Blackbird, aka turdus merula, and the name “Mellers” sounds perhaps, possibly, maybe, slightly, conceivably, like it.

What is more disturbing, though, is the discovery that “merle” appears to mean absolutely nothing whatsoever in English Heraldry. On Amazon, the search for “Heraldry” reveals five books, all with the same title. It is “A Complete Guide to Heraldry” by A.C.Fox-Davis:

fox daviesThis rather old book is the standard work on English Heraldry and has been for quite a considerable time. It is a book of some 645 pages, but there is not a single “merle” on any one of them.  And more important still, if merles did actually exist in Heraldry, then why did the Heralds’ College, known also as the College of Arms, call these birds “blackbirds” when they made that formal grant-of-arms to the school as recently as 1949? Why didn’t they call them “merles” and thereby preserve the “Laugh, I nearly died” visual pun?
And don’t think that the College of Arms are just a bunch of fly-by-night door-to-door sellers of heraldic key rings and underwear. They were founded well before Dame Agnes Mellers, in fact as far back as 1484. To quote the definition on the Heraldry Society website:

“The College of Arms is the only official English authority for confirming the correctness of armorial ensigns — Arms, Crests, Supporters and Badges — claimed by descent from an armigerous ancestor, or for granting new ones to those who qualify for them.”

In other words, if they say it’s a blackbird it’s a blackbird. You can’t just decide to call it a “merle” because you feel like it, or because it seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s just not allowed. Here is another blackbird, just to refresh your memory:

Blackbird-01

In 1920 at least, nobody called it a “merle”. In June of that year, the new school magazine, “The Highvite” contained a “Sports Chorus”, including appropriately vigorous music. The words were…

“Score our High School / ye Highvites now score for victory.
Our High School / For Highvites, never, never, never shall be beaten
By any Worksop / Newark & c. team
At the Sign of the Blackbirds three.”

No “merles” there then. It is equally interesting to note that in “The Nottinghamian” of December 1921, the school’s emblem is again referred to as containing blackbirds, rather than merles. This overturning of tradition, however, does not mean that the use of three black birds does not connect us directly with Dame Agnes. Let’s look at it from a different angle, just for a moment.

Many people have believed over the years that it was only when the school changed its site from Stoney Street to Arboretum Street in 1867 that the three black birds were first adapted. But this was definitely not the case since photographs from the mid-nineteenth century show quite clearly that a badge with three birds was displayed on the wall of the Free School building. In this case, though, their wings were folded rather than the modern version, flapping and ready for immediate and dynamic intellectual and sporting take-off:

stoney st enlarged

Indeed, it is thought that the three black birds were in evidence as an unofficial badge for the school from at least June 16th 1808 onwards. On this date, an unknown but apparently very bored clerk has decorated the title page of the funky new volume of the Schoolwardens’ Annual Balance Sheets with the traditional three black birds, so it has clearly been known as a symbol connected with the school for a very long time.

Interestingly enough, another slightly more modern place where the birds’ wings can be seen as folded dates from 1936, when some new stained glass sections were put into the windows at the back of the recently built Assembly Hall:

assembly hall

And nowadays, of course, this folded wings version forms the badge of the Old Nottinghamians’ Society. Presumably, that is why they appear in this guise on a car badge being sold off on ebay:

car badge

Next time, I will attempt to answer the question of where did those black birds come from? In the meantime here’s a clue. Not all black birds are Blackbirds:

chough_nb_tcm9-94034

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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:

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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.

 

 

 

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Filed under Football, History, Nottingham, The High School

Sports Day in the Victorian era

Nowadays, School Sports are held in April and can be, just occasionally, on the rainy or even the chilly side. The first School Sports I have been able to find any information about took place over two days, well over a hundred years ago…and not in April.

Instead, they were on Wednesday and Thursday, September 28th and 29th 1870, at Trent Bridge. (not for the first time, apparently). Events included the popular “High Leap with a Pole”, won by Woodhouse with a jump of 7ft 6ins, “a good jump for a man”. A total of 36 boys entered the stone gathering race, and the sack race was won by Darby, who had the bright idea of inserting a toe tightly into each corner of the sack, and then “shuffled along capitally”.
On the second day there was a “Stranger’s Race” with people not directly connected with the school allowed to compete. There was general reluctance to enter this race, because of the presence of Mr Sam Weller Widdowson, the famous captain of the Nottingham Forest Foot-ball Club:

weller

Named after the character in Dickens,  Widdowson was the inventor of the shin-pad:

shinguards

A number of gentlemen finally took part in this race, running in top hats and overcoats. As expected, Mr Widdowson was in first place, with Mr Frederick Rothera second. There was a “blind donkey race” with large boys blindfolded, and small boys riding piggyback, giving them directions. It was won by “Purchase and Brown”.

The next School Sports I can trace were on Monday, April 8th 1878, at Trent Bridge, in front of a “numerous gathering”, entertained by the playing of the Sax Tuba Band. Events included throwing the cricket ball, a 220 yard football dribbling race, a 100 yard three-legged race, a 100 yard sack race, a one mile bicycle race, and an Old Boys’ race.

One of the highlights was the 220 yards running race when the course had been marked out wrongly. One of the eleven runners, Sulley, took the wrong turning, and “effectually disposed of his chance”. The other runners also went wrong, but because they were trailing so far behind Sulley, they were able to run back, and get onto the correct route. Unfortunately, Small was knocked over in the confusion, and eliminated from the race, which was eventually won by G.F.Chalcraft. His prize was a handsome desk, donated by the teaching staff.
In the final of the sack race, F.Bailey finished second behind “the younger Walker”, having decided not to jump inside his sack, but instead, to lie down and roll along the ground.
Most interesting, though, was the “Bumping Match”, the exact rules of which, unfortunately, have not survived. It was surely one of two scenarios. Either a huge circle was marked out by a rope, and the last boy left in it was the winner, or it was some kind of sumo type pushing contest, where boy after boy fought in round after round, until only one remained as the victor:

“The contest caused great merriment among the spectators, who greeted the overturned combatants with roars of laughter. Finally two, varying greatly in size were left in, and after a prolonged struggle, W.A.Walker, who showed great quickness and dexterity in avoiding the attacks of his tall opponent, R.E.Fletcher, succeeded in knocking the latter over the line, amidst loud applause.”

The following year, on Tuesday, April 29th 1879, again at Trent Bridge Cricket Ground, “a numerous and fashionable assemblage” was entertained by the Sax Tuba Band, under the conductorship of Mr J.Hindley. There were 22 events, including throwing the cricket ball and a 100 yards race with a Gladstone bag as first prize, presented by Sir James Oldknow. This is Trent Bridge  at the time, during a Test Match:

trent-bridge-cricket-ground

There was a half mile handicap race where the prize was a silver watch, presented by Captain W.E.Dennison  M.P., and the M.P., Saul Isaac.  J.E.Woolley led for nearly six hundred yards, but Barlow overcame his ten yard handicap about 120 yards from the finish, and went on to win. Woolley eventually finished third, and C.Cullen was second. The prize in the long jump was a luncheon basket, presented by the Borough Members. There was a three-legged race and a 400 yards race with only two competitors, G.B.Chalcraft beating E.H.Wells by ten yards. In actual fact, there should have been three runners for the race to start at all, but it was “run through an error on the part of the starter.” The one mile handicap bicycle race was won by A.V.Paton, and F.Bailey won the sack race. This event “…as usual, afforded great amusement.” C.Cullen won the 220 yards football race. His first prize was a cabinet Shakespeare, presented by the Dame Agnes Mellers Club. E.Thornley was doing very well until he kicked the ball out of his lane, and Cullen then went on to win.

H.R.Bramwell won the 100 yards hurdles, which was over six flights of hurdles. His prize was a writing desk, presented by Messrs J & J. Vice. In the 220 yards, C.Daft won a pair of binoculars presented by the Assistant Masters. “The most exciting race”, was the Old Boys’ race over 220 yards  won by F.F.Cleaver in 24 seconds.  At the end of the day came the “…usual bumping match and two consolation races”, won by Thornley and Butler.
Mr Charles Daft was the starter throughout, and Herr Altdorfer and Mr W.H.Bailey were the judges. The prizes were presented by Miss Lindley, and the President seconded a vote of thanks to her for her kindness. She was given a small bouquet of flowers, and three cheers by the school. Her father offered thanks for this kind gesture, and then called for three cheers for the President. With this, the day came to a happy close.
One interesting detail about the competitors in these sports is that there was a small fee payable to enter any of the events. At least one Old Boy in later life was to state that this cash payment did much to limit the number of competitors.

School Sports then seem to have died a death until, during his first term in office, in March 1885, the new Headmaster, Dr James Gow, started an Athletics Contest for senior boys. This soon evolved into a full School Sports Day. Over the years, the school magazines have given us a series of snapshots of the event has changed.

On Friday, June 29th 1888, for example, the School Sports, “…for many years in abeyance”, were revived, and were held in “very unfavourable weather” on the Castle Grounds. I am not really very sure, but I would presume that the Castle Grounds are the area of flat ground at the side of the Castle:

castle grouundszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

There was a good attendance of spectators, and among the more usual events was a three-legged race, won by W.A.Möller and C.P.S.Sanders, a sack race won by J.Blake, and a bicycle race over one mile, won by W.A.Möller in 3 minutes 45.4 seconds. F.Bramley won the “Throwing the Cricket Ball (for boys under 14), with a distance of 57 yards.
The Masters’ Race was won by the Reverend T.W.Peck, with Mr W.T.Ryles in second place, two yards behind. There was also an Old Boys’ Race which was a handicap, run over 220 yards, and a Tug of War, won by Team No 1, who defeated Team No 2 in the final. Again many prizes were in evidence, all presented by Mrs.Gow.

This staff group shows Mr W.T.Ryles in the back row, fifth from the right. His nickname was “Nipper”. His brother, Mr W.E.Ryles, “Jumbo” is on the front row, second from the left. The Headmaster, fourth from the right on the front row, is Dr Gow:

staff 1901

On the afternoon of Tuesday, June 3rd 1890, Sports Day was again held at the Castle Ground in dull and windy weather. Nevertheless, a large crowd attended, and enjoyed a day of “very fair sport”, and a selection of music played by the Nottingham Borough Police Band, under the leadership of Bandmaster Redgate. The prizes were presented by Miss Goldschmidt. Most of the events were similar to previous years including the 220 yards football dribbling race, throwing the cricket ball, an Old Boys’ bicycle race, a sack race and a whole series of running races, all of them with varying handicaps for the competitors .

The most interesting event, though, was the hundred yards Medley Handicap. In this, boys competed in a number of heats over one hundred yards, and the handicap consisted in the means by which they had to cover the distance. The methods included skipping, sack race, three legged, pick-a-back, on all fours, and, most spectacular of all, perhaps, on stilts. The final seems to have been a normal foot race, as the winner’s time was fifteen seconds.

On the afternoon of Friday, March 29th 1901, the School Sports took place at the brand new sports ground at Mapperley Park. We already know how to get there. Look for the orange arrow. The High School is in the bottom left corner of the map, where Mount Hooton Road and Forest Road East meet. It is the incomplete beige rectangle which is outlined in black:

Untitled 2

A large number of boys, friends, parents and Old Boys were in attendance, but the day was spoiled by the bitterly cold weather,

“…the turf was naturally affected by the overnight fall of snow, which made the going heavy.”

Two years later, on the afternoon of Saturday, July 25th 1903, the weather was beautiful, although not too warm, and there was another large crowd,

“including many ladies, whose bright, summer dresses amidst the pretty surroundings of trees and shrubs, made the scene most picturesque”

The spectators were entertained by “the lively strains of a band, and a hospitable tea tent.”
The numerous prizes were presented by Lady Blain and events included the one mile walking race, won by B.G.Saywell and an U-11 obstacle race won by C.F.Brasher. L.W.Malton won the potato race and a tug of war was held between “The Past” (Old Boys), and “The Present” (Masters and Boys). The Old Boys were G.C.Allsebrook, W.Allsebrook, G.F.Brewill, E.Brewill, S.Hoyte and H.A.Wootton. Their opposition contained three boys, namely R.Marrs, W.Oldershaw and H.A.Watson, and three masters, Messrs Hughes, Jones and Yates. The Old Boys soon pulled the School over the line, but were found to have included a seventh member of the team, J.Johnstone (Cheats!). The result was overturned, and the School soon won a fair contest by 3-0. I could find no photographs of this event, but here is the tug of war at the 1904 Olympics in Los Angeles. I’m sure it will give you the rough flavour:

The-Olympic-1904 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

On Saturday, June 24th 1905, it was very fine weather at Mapperley Park. Spectators were entertained by the band of the Robin Hood Rifles, under the directorship of Mr A.Pounder. The sports should have taken place the previous Saturday, but the rain was so torrential that this was completely impossible. Events included the usual ones, such as the 220 yards football dribbling race (R.B.Wray in 35 seconds) and the U-11 race over 75 yards (F.C.Tonkin, 10.8 seconds). There was a one mile bicycle race won by H.E.Mills (3 minutes 9.6 seconds) after the other two competitors, S.S.Parkinson and P.H.Hart collided with each other and both fell off. H.E.Mills  also won the potato race this year. J.H.Simpson won the U-11 obstacle race where competitors had to crawl through barrels and under pegged down clothes. The event created “much amusement”. The Old Boys won the tug of war against the Masters & Boys.

As war clouds slowly gathered, on the afternoon of Saturday, June 15th 1912, the Athletic Sports were held in splendid sunshine, again at Mapperley. The attendance was very large, and great interest was generated. Harold Ballamy ran 100 yards in 10.6 seconds, a marvellous performance on grass and wearing, presumably, ordinary pumps. There was again a football dribbling race, won by R.L.W.Herrick. This latter event was by now the only survivor of the many unusual and interesting events which had previously characterised the Victorian and Edwardian sports days. Now, virtually every event was a serious sporting trial.

The following year, 1913, was, of course, the very last Sports Day before the thunderstorm that was the Great War carried away the best of this talented generation of young men from the whole of the continent of Europe. Ironically, it was this bittersweet occasion that has bequeathed to us the only photographs that we have of a Sports Day of yesteryear. It is such a pity that they are of comparatively poor quality. This year, of course, marked the 400th anniversary of the school and both this day of athletics and the photographs themselves came as part of this occasion. Here is the huge crowd:

the crowd 1913

Here is the start of a race:

start of race

…and the exciting finish:

end of race 1913 handicap size runners

These are two exhausted athletes:

sports day 1913

The Headmaster, Dr Turpin, is the gentleman in the very middle of the picture, as the prizes are distributed:

give out prizes

And here he is again, this time making a speech. Look at the policeman and how impressed the little boy is:

prizes 1913

It should still be possible to establish the exact location of the majority of these events. I am sure that the all large Victorian houses in the background will still be there.

 

 

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