The death of Sandy Lang

November 8, 1901
A wide circle of people interested in the winter sport, and especially those who followed the fortunes of Burnley in the palmy days of football in the town will hear with extreme regret of the death of Sandy Lang, the old Burnley full back.

The sad event happened with startling suddenness about 2 o’clock yesterday. Lang, at the time was engaged in serving in the bar of the Dog and Duck Inn, St. James’s-street, of which he has been the landlord for about nine years, when he fell and died immediately. He was apparently in his usual health up to his awfully sudden seizure and death.

The news of the melancholy event soon spread, and the utmost sympathy was express with Mrs. Lang and family.

Alexander Lang hailed from Bridge-of-Weir, near Paisley, Scotland, was born in 1864. He first played with his native team, and after that threw in his low with Johnstone Rovers, and from there he came to Padiham in 1884.

Here he first played centre-forward, the half-back; in fact he was a kind of “utility man,” as many of the old school of footballers were, playing anywhere he was wanted.

Along with other Scots, among whom were W. McFettridge, D. Waugh, P. Gallocher and J. McConnell, he migrated to Turf Moor, with which team he played from 1886 until 1893.

He operated at left full back for Burnley, and without doubt was one of the finest backs in the country. He was wonderfully active, and earned himself the sobriquet of the “India-rubber devil”; he was one of the most fearless players who ever donned the jersey of any club; was a sure tackler, and at times played with great brilliance.

At the time that he joined Burnley the weakness of the side was its defence, but subsequently it became the strongest part of the team.

For a man of comparatively light physique – for he only stood 5ft. 7in. and weighed, when at his best, 10 stones 7lbs. – he was a marvel.

He was in his day, in the opinion of many, nearly equal, of not actually the equal, of N.J. Ross, and played a great number of brilliant games for Burnley.

The mention of the great North Enders’ name recalls the fact that in Lang’s early days with Burnley five-a-side’s contests were fashionable. In one of these Lang’s team beat Ross’ team on the ground of the Union Stars at Rakehead, and this has been described as the very finest exposition of football ever seen in Burnley.

Lang occasionally assisted North End in the early days of the League, and notably in a Scotch tour, in the absence of N.J. Ross.

His display in the memorable Lancashire Cup tie at Accrington against the Rovers, on which occasion he captained the team and led them to victory, he performed prodigious feats of valour, and when in 1891-2 Burnley defeated Everton in the English Cup contest at Anfield-road, he even excelled himself, and was so untiring and dexterous in his defence that from an early period of the game a gentleman prominently associated with football declared that he was almost equal to the task of keeping Everton out unaided.

These two games stand out in the memory of the writer, but he played many splendid games for the club. His last whole season was 1892-3, and he never played better or more consistently.

In the practice games prior to the commencement of the campaign next year he received an injury to his ankle, and for months was unable to don the jersey. The club was distinctly fortunate in having McLintock to fill the vacancy.

Lang very rarely occupied his old position subsequently, and once more became the utility man, operating at half-back, etc. In the following year, having been re-instated as an amateur, he joined the Nelson team, but he gradually dropped out of the game.

Lang was not only left footed but left handed, and was no mean cueist, and occasionally played cricket, figuring in the recent licensed victuallers’ match.
(Source: Burnley Express: November 9, 1901)

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