Saturday, June 16 – 1900
Football has long been the most popular of our English winter pastimes, but it would appear from the opinion of one who should be “in the know,” that its popularity on the Continent is also rapidly increasing, and that ere many season have come and gone matches between the various nations may be as common as they are now between the representatives of the British Isles.
Such at any rate is the view of no less an authority than Mr. Edgar Chadwick, the well-known Burnley-Everton-Rovers’ League and International player who has just returned from a five weeks’ visit to Prague (Austria), where he has been training the German football team of that town. It will be remembered about the middle of last November an English Association team, composed of both amateurs and professionals visited Germany and played a series of exhibition games against the pick of the football clubs of that country, with the result that Edgar Chadwick was asked by the representative of the Prague team to go over and train them at the end of the English season.
The famous international consented and went, and it was for the purpose of gaining a few interesting facts regarding the players’ ability and knowledge of the Association code that we the other day sought and obtained an interview from him.
Having stated the object of our visit the genial Edgar, who, by the way, is one of the few men who have played with the English League since the inauguration and are still “not out,” informed us the club he coached was entirely a German one, though resident in Austria, and was composed largely of students.
“From your experience,” we asked, “do they take much interest in the game in Austria?”
“- Oh, yes,” replied Chadwick, “they are very enthusiastic both in Germany and Austria. There are three clubs in Berlin, two in Vienna, two in Leipzig, one in Dresden, and another in Magdeburg.”
“Is the interest solely concealed to the students, or do the general masses of the people display any liking for it?”
“- They are every bit as enthusiastic as they are in England, more so in fact, because it has only just sprung up there.”
“Are the conditions of play the same as ours?”
“- With one exception; their posts are a foot lower, but I have persuaded the Prague team to alter them to the English heights, and I believe the other teams will now do the same.”
“Have these German and Austrian clubs many members?”
“- The Prague club has four teams and a membership of about three hundred, whilst the other clubs, though perhaps not to the same extent, are well provided with players.”
“How do you think the leading clubs would compare with our English elevens?”
“- With another season’s training I believe they will equal the best of our Second Division teams; at present they are deficient in heading and shooting.”
“Then they must be superior to our own players in adapting themselves to requirements of the game?”
“- No, I don’t think so, but they take pains to try to learn it thoroughly, and pay every attention to the advice of their trainer. There is absolutely no roughness, each man playing for the love of the game, and all with a desire to excel each other in quick and neat movements. It is rare they ever indulge in charging, though their play sometimes suffers in consequence.”
“Have they any League in Germany like our own first Division?”
“- They have had one simply composed of Germans in Germany, but I think they are going to throw it open to all clubs irrespectively of nationality. That refers to clubs in Germany only. The German clubs in Austria never play the Austrian elevens, as they are not allowed.”
“Why?” we asked.
“- It is felt that if they came in contact with the Bohemians there would be some free fights and other rowdy scenes. I have heard no other reason given.”
“Have they good grounds in the two countries so far as you know?
“- Yes, very good though they are very hard through the extremely dry weather that exists during the summer time. In fact they play without any studs on their boots.”
“Are there any prospects of a German team coming to this country next season?”
“- I would not be surprised. They have asked me to take a team of English professionals next April.”
“Will you do so?”
“- I hope to be able to.”
Continuing our conversation with Edgar, we learnt that every encourageemnt was given to the German masses to learn the code, and that teams would think nothing of making a twelve or even twenty-four hours’ journey in order to play a game.
“Do you think there is a good future for German and Austrian football?”
“- In a few years,” answered Chadwick, “I expect to see First and Second Divisions of clubs established in both countries on a system similar to our own, while it is not too much to hope that ere long matches between this country and the various nations on the Continent will be regularly played.”
“Like they are with Scotland, Ireland, and Wales; a sort of European International League?”
“- Well, such a thing is not impossible,” replied Edgar with a laugh.
“Do they play Rugby in either country?”
“- No, neither do they like cricket, which is conspicuous by its absence. They tried to start it in Germany, but no one took any interest in it. Tennis is played a good deal, and football is spreading like wildfire.”
“How about the other countries? Is there any enthusiasm over the game there?”
“- Denmark has recently shown a splendid spirit in regard to the game. A match between a Prague team and the Danes brought in a £400 gate. In Switzerland also it is getting a strong hold.”
“Has this mania for our winter game been of entirely recent growth on the Continent?”
“- Well,” said Chadwick, laughingly, “it has all come about within the past few years. Until then nothing was known of it, much less thought of.”
Just before leaving, we ascertained that the Austrians were hopelessly pro-Boer in their opinions of the war between England and the rebels. The papers made a great noise over every little Boer victory and British check, whilst the bands were always playing Boer marches. He received the news of the relief of Mafeking on the Queen’s birthday, and about a dozen Britishers including himself had a festal gathering in celebration of the event, when they drank her Majesty’s health.
Edgar, his many friends, will be pleased to learn, was accorded a great ovation upon leaving Prague. German and Austrian footballers in large numbers giving him a hearty send-off. He hopes to be able to play for his native town next season, the only difficulty being the transfer question. His inclusion in the Rovers’ ranks would be very welcome, and, as he says, he is “as fit as ever.”
(Blackburn Standard, 16-06-1900)