May 2, 1891
The football season which closed on Thursday has been a remarkable one in many respects. With the first of last September the four months close season came into operation, and as was then pretty generally predicted, the clubs have managed to squeeze in as many games in the eight months as it has been customary for them to cram into nine.
And all this means so much greater strain on the constitutions of the men who play the game, so that it must by common consent be allowed that the lot of the professional footballer is not by any means an easy one. But more of this when we deal with the club records.
The winter has been one of bustle and turmoil to others besides the players, the long and severe frost which lasted from the end of November to the opening of February having played such havoc amongst the fixtures that an almost complete rearrangement was rendered necessary. Beyond this the frost caused infinite trouble to the managers of teams and their groundsmen, but on the whole it has had a salutary effect, as it has brought about a more definite rule as to when a ground is fit or unfit for play. The policy pursued by the League in respect to the games played in the frozen grounds was absurd, and it may be taken for granted that it will not be adopted again.
The poaching of players all but led to a rupture between the League and Alliance, and in one instance matters went so far that the Blackburn Rovers and Notts did get into the law courts, but the affair ended in such a manner that it cannot serve as a guide in such matters in the future.
A much more sensible attempt at settlement was that made by the revision sub-committee of the League, who drew up a set of rules for extending the number of clubs to 36, divided into three classes of a dozen each, and dealing with the transfer of players.
Three-fourths of the League members, however, could not see through the scheme, and it fell to the ground. This is to be regretted, for had the idea been accepted, and the League and Alliance set to work to develop it, immense good would have been done to football. With 36 clubs banded together a constitution something after the nature of the Baseball Association of Great Britain could have been formed and rules drafted dealing not only with the question of poaching but also with the matter of wages to be paid to me.
This is no doubt a knotty subject, but it will have to be dealt with or some of the clubs will go to the wall. But this is prospective rather than retrospective, and we will proceed to deal with the various sections into which the past winter’s campaign divides itself.
The international series, as usual, consisted of six games, and England is decidedly the champion country, for her representatives won all their games, and scored 12 goals to three.
The results were as follow: –
February 7, Belfast, Ireland beat Wales, 7-2.
March 7, Sunderland, England beat Wales, 4-1.
March 7, Wolverhampton, England beat Ireland, 6-1.
March 21, Wrexham, Scotland beat Wales, 4-3.
March 28, Glasgow, Scotland beat Ireland, 2-1.
April 6, Blackburn, England beat Scotland, 2-1.
The team which did duty for England against Scotland was not, on the whole, the best that could have been selected, and had it not been for the rupture between the Scottish Football Association and the Scottish League, the probability is that Scotland would have held the position occupied by England.
The Selection Committee, at the conference of secretaries on the 4th April, kicked against playing the Welsh and Irish matches on the same day, but the opposition of the League was sufficient to prevent an alteration.
Billy Bassett (left) and John Goodall.
Of the dozen goals scored for England, two each have been credited to Goodall, Basset, and Chadwick, the remaining going to Southworth, Milward, G.H. Cotterill, A.G. Hentrey, Daft, and T. Lindley. The English representatives for the season have been: –
Goal: a* William Robert Moon, Old Westminsters; b Leonard Wilkinson, Oxford University; c* William Rose, Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Backs: a* Bob Howarth, Preston North End; a* Bob Holmes, Preston North End; b Elphinstone Jackson, Oxford University; b Tom Porteous, Sunderland; c Joe Marsden, Darwen; c Alfred Underwood, Stoke.
Half-backs: ab Albert Smith, Nottingham Forest; ab* Johnny Holt, Everton; ab* Alfred Shelton, Notts County; c Jem Bayliss, West Bromwich Albion; c* John Brodie, Wolverhampton Wanderers; c Charles Perry, West Bromwich Albion.
Forwards: ac* Billy Bassett, West Bromwich Albion; b* George Brann, Swifts; ab* John Goodall, Derby County; c George Cotterill, Cambridge University (right wing); a* Fred Geary, Everton; b* Jack Southworth, Blackburn Rovers; c* Tinsley Lindley, Nottingham Forest (centre); ab Edgar Chadwick, Everton; ab Alf Milward, Everton; c Arthur Henfrey, Cambridge University; c* Harry Daft, Notts County (left wing).
(a v Scotland; b v Wales, c v Ireland, * a previous international.)
The North v South game was decided at Nottingham in the early days of the new year, and considering that the ground was frost-bound, and hard as adamant, the play was good, and the North, without a doubt the best team, win by three to love.
The number of inter-Association games has again been fewer than ever in the past, and from the list arranged at the annual conference of secretaries, there will be a falling off again next season. The days of inter-Association games are past, for with so many League and Cup-tie games for decision, clubs cannot spare their men. In all there are some 28 English Associations who have played representative games, the most interesting to our readers being.
Cup competitions have all round maintained their interest. The “Blue Riband” of football has again been carried off by the Blackburn Rovers, who, in the matter of winning this trophy, must be accounted lucky. The contest was in many ways remarkable. In the first round there was some high scoring indulged in, and a couple of the best clubs in the country – Everton and Preston North End – went down.
Then, in the second, Stoke, who had settled the North End, accounted for Aston Villa; while another Alliance team, Sheffield Wednesday, rather unexpectedly overcame Derby County. In this round Nottingham Forest and Sunderland, after trying each other’s ground without settlement, tried a neutral pitch, and the Foresters won easily by 5 to 0; but in the next round the Albion’s neighbours, Sunderland, took the Forest down 4 to 0. Then Sunderland and Notts County had to meet twice; and in the final the Rovers, who were not as well supported as usual, came out at the close by 3 to 1.
The money realised in the semi-finals and final was larger than ever before, and all the participants are decidedly of opinion that that Cup-ties are worth playing yet.
The Bolton Wanderers last Saturday came off the Everton ground winners of the Lancashire Association Cup, having beaten Darwen 3 to 1. The North End were in the competition again for the first time for three seasons, and, strange to say, they were ordered to play their first neutral game on the Rovers’ ground, the very thing about which they had quarrelled with the association.
The Lancashire Association is a wealthy body, and can afford to give its semi-finalists and finalists better terms than any other, the result of which will be that the finalists in the Lancashire Cup competition will carry off more than the contestants in the English final. Notwithstanding that there was something like 30,000 paid 1s. at the Oval.
The principal cups in England have found resting-places as follow: –
On all hands there have been complaints made about teams not keeping up their form to the end of the season, and in many quarters elevens have completely disgusted their supporters. Comparing the records of the leading clubs on the 30th April this year and last, the explanation is not difficult to find out. The men have been compelled by the committees to get in nine months’ work in eight months, and the art of doing this appears to be a secret known only to one team, Everton, whose record today is rather better than it was 12 months ago.
Up to the beginning of April the bulk of the League teams had a better record than at the same time last season; but three and four games a week, as some of the clubs have been going on lately, is too much for anybody. Unless matters are better arranged in future, the clubs will be killing the goose that laid the golden eggs. Spectators cannot be expected to stand by quietly and see a team, in one month, throw away match after match, even on opponents’ grounds.
The records for the clubs to the end of the season are as follow: –
(Lancashire Evening Post: May 2, 1891)