Sheffield Walking App

Sheffield United hold the record as the only club to field 10 England internationals in a league match

There are two ex-Sheffield United players in this year’s World Cup squad for Russia but things were much better last century, with ten England internationals regularly playing for United for the entire 1903/04 season. As part of my ongoing research for my book ‘A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom’ this is another important record for Sheffield football.

Sheffield United hold the record as the only club to have the distinction of fielding 10 England internationals at the same time in the season of 1903/04.  They didn’t just achieve this in one league game but in a total of eight games over the course of the season.  I have spoken to the England Online website to corroborate the record that was stated in the Sothebys auction guide and he was not aware of any club since, equaling or bettering, the record. I discovered today that Graham Budd auctioneers asked Sheffield United’s official historian John Garrett to investigate the photograph on their behalf. Interestingly John says that only the actual players and the club directors received a copy of the photograph, so it is extremely rare.

United regularly fielded a team of 10 England Internationals past and present in that season. (Usually 11 internationals played every game in that season for the Blades with Ireland’s Peter Boyle making up the numbers). It must have been a special achievement for them to arrange the photographic record.

10 England present or ex-players in the team = 8 games

9 England present or ex-players in the team = 12 games

8 England present or ex-players in the team = 9 games

7 England present or ex-players in the team = 2 games

6 England present or ex-players in the team = 4 games

5 England present or ex-players in the team = 4 games

4 England present or ex-players in the team = 1 games

A total 40 games played in the 1903/04 season with never less than 4 England internationals in the United side.

The ratio of England internationals playing reduced as the season progressed which resulted in a drop of form with the team finishing in 7th place in Division One.

I was lucky enough to secure a photograph of the record breaking team at a recent Sotheby’s auction taken outside of the Cricket Pavilion at Bramall Lane.The photograph of the United team wearing their England shirts and caps was taken in the close season between 29th of April 1903 and September 5th, 1903 as Tommy Morren played his last match for United 29th April 1903 and he is in the photograph.  If the photograph been taken a few weeks earlier, it would have been an amazing 11 Sheffield United England internationals as Hedley also had one his England cap in 1901. George Hedley does not feature in the photograph as he played his last match for United on April 6th, 1903.

(Note the cricket ball under Bennet’s foot in the photograph, suggesting a summer date with the photographer)

Players in photograph. Back -Left to right 

 Jack Housley (Trainer) – a well-known Sheffield footballer who first played for Garrick FC and featured in the world’s first ever game played under floodlights at Bramall Lane in 1878 between two teams representing the Sheffield Football Association. He died tragically after slipping on a banana skin as he got off a tram car aged 64.

William Harrison Johnson-6 England caps-17/3/1900-4/4/1903-PRESENT international at time of photo.

Harry Thickett- 2 England caps- 20/3/1899-8/4/1899-PAST international at time of photo.

William Henry Foulkes—1 England cap—29/3/1897-PAST international at time of photo.

Peter Boyle (Ireland)-5 caps for the Republic of Ireland-PRESENT international at time of photo.

John Nicholson (Secretary)- the man we would nowadays call the manager held the position for thirty years. Nicholson presided over the most successful period in the Blades history, winning four FA Cups in 1899, 1902, 1915 and 1925 (also reaching the final in 1901,1936) and maintaining United as a dominant league force, winning the old 1st division Championship in 1898. Despite never holding the post of manager at the Blades he was offered just such a position at Manchester City in 1926 but turned it down, preferring to remain in his home town. Nicholson also suffered a tragic death aged 68 after being knocked down by a lorry outside Midland Station on his way to meet the team leaving for an away match against Aston Villa FC.

Ernest ‘Nudger’ Needham – 16 England caps—7/4/1894-3/3/1902-PAST international at time of photo.

George Waller (Trainer)-played for Wednesday in the 1890 FA Cup Final and was the trainer for four F.A. Cup winning teams and the League Championship side, as well as Yorkshire for Cricket. Waller was a tactical innovator, and introduced the idea of using one inside forward to play in a deeper role, capable of accurate passing, who could bring faster wide men into play, often with long cross–field balls. This would remain United’s style of play well into the 1930s and only began to change following Waller’s departure in 1930.

 Front-Left to right 

Walter Bennett—2 England caps -18/3/1901-13/3/01-PAST international at time of photo.

Alf Common—3 England caps–29/2/1904-19/3/1906-PRESENT international at time of photo.

Arthur Brown—2 England caps -29/2/1904-17/2/1906-PRESENT international at time of photo.

Fred Priest-1 England cap—17/3/1900-PAST international at time of photo.

Bert Lipsham-1 England cap—3/3/1902-PAST international at time of photo.

Tommy Morren -1 England cap—5/3/1898-PAST international at time of photo.

Bernard Wilkinson –1 England cap—9/4/1904-PRESENT international at time of photo.

Alf Common is famous for being the subject of the world’s first £1,000 transfer fee whilst Arthur Brown, debuting as an 18-year-old, still features high on the list of the youngest players to represent England, a distinction currently headed by Theo Walcott. Bert Lipsham was one of Millwall’ s first mangers and went to Canada where he helped found the Canadian Football Association William Harrison Johnson and Peter Boyle both had sons who won F.A. Cup winner’s medals in 1925 with Sheffield United.

Read more about Sheffield football history in:’ History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom‘

With thanks to:

Denis Clarebrough & Andrew Kirkham (2008). Sheffield United Who’s Who. Hallamshire Press

John Denton and the Sheffield FC Athletic sports: 153 years ago this month

Andy Mitchell the co-author of the excellent ‘1824 The World’s First Foot-Ball Club’ book ( has kindly sent me images of John Denton’s prize from the 1865 Sheffield FC Athletic sports. John Denton was Sheffield FC’s Hon. Sec. in 1869 and 1870.

He won the tankard for coming second in the quarter mile.

The man who beat him was A.M. Wild at this ‘elite’ event held by Sheffield FC every year since 1858, this year at Bramall lane Cricket ground:

The man to beat his other events was John Charles Shaw -the founder of Hallam FC:

But Denton beat  Shaw in the steeplechase:

Sheffield Daily Telegraph – Tuesday 09 May 1865

John Denton died on  8th January 1914 aged 69. In his obituary they recount his narrow escape from death from the ‘Sheffield Great Flood’ aged seventeen.

To learn more about the history of Sheffield football history please order my book:

A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom

Link to book page –

Fordingbridge Turks FC: England’s 12th oldest Association football club 150 years old this weekend

Fordingbridge Turks FC England’s 12th oldest Association football club (and Hampshire’s oldest surviving Football Club) celebrate their 150th birthday this Saturday 19th May.

Present day games are played on the Recreation Ground as well as at Burgate School and Fordingbridge Junior School but the club would love to have a home of its own. Melanie Gill, who is a welfare officer at the club, said: “We are the one of the oldest clubs in the world without a pitch of our own which is something we would like to change.” A Festival of Football is being held on Saturday, May 19, at the Recreation Ground from 10am when they welcome Oxford United FC.

According to the book “Association Football and the men who made It” Published by Caxton in 1904 Fordingbridge Turks was formed in 1868.Among its pioneers were Charlie Neave, a grand right-wing forward; Nim Marsh of Blackmore Vale, a famous runner; an athletic curate the Rev. Edwards; and Mr Turner Jones, then a clerk at the bank. The ‘Turks’ part of their name is believed to have been added around 1877 when the British newspapers were reporting on the outstanding Turkish bravery, during a five-month siege of Plevna during the Russian-Turkish War.

John May started  the Basingstoke Association Challenge Cup in 1879,which has become known as the Hampshire Challenge Cup. The Turks won for the first two consecutive competitions and kept the trophy, curtailing the tournament and the cup is on permanent display at Hampshire FA at their headquarters in Basingstoke , the Fordingbridge  museum has a display on the football club and holds several historic items, including a replica of the 1879 cup.  As you can see from the following that features in my book A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom the Basingstoke Association Challenge Cup is England’s =7th oldest trophy.

1. Youdan Cup (Sheffield) 1867

2. Cromwell Cup (Sheffield) 1868

3. Football Association Cup 1871/72

=4. Sheffield Association Challenge Cup 1876/77

=4. Birmingham and District Association Challenge Cup 1876/77

=5. Sheffield New Association Challenge Cup 1877/78

=5. North Staffordshire Football Association Challenge Cup 1877/78

=5. Shropshire Association Challenge Cup 1877/78

=6 Wharncliffe Charity Challenge Cup (Sheffield) 1878/79 – England’s first Charity Association Cup (Glasgow Cup started 1877)

=6. Berks and Bucks Association Challenge Cup 1878/79

=6. Cheshire Association Challenge Cup 1878/79

=6. Blackburn Football Association Challenge Cup 1878/79

=7. Basingstoke Association Challenge Cup 1879/80

=7. Lancashire Football Association Challenge Cup 1879/80

=7. Walsall and District Football Association (Licensed Victuallers) Cup 1879/80

(Outside of England we have the Scottish Cup (1873) which is the oldest cup still being presented as of course we are on F.A. Cup number three in England, in terms of Rugby then we also have the United Hospitals Challenge Cup of 1877.)

With thanks to Melanie Gill here is a photograph of the original Basingstoke Association Challenge Cup

The earliest match report for the club I have been able to find is from 1876:

FOOTBALL. – Fordingbridge v. Lymington. – A match was played on Wednesday afternoon, between these clubs, and, it being the first time the game has been publicly contested here, within memory, a considerable number of spectators were present. The sport lasted one hour and a half, when the Fordingbridge team, having obtained a goal, one. Mr. Marsh was captain of the last-named club, and Mr. C. St. Barbe performed the same duties for the home party, Mr. Murdoch being umpire. It may be added that Messrs, Spackman, Moore, and W. Gatrell made several splendid rushes for their comrades; and that Messrs, Gatrell and Cull, on the opposite side, won applause for similar performances. Hampshire Advertiser – Saturday 25 November 1876

Celebrate the phenomenal achievement of a football club surviving for 150 years this Saturday , which will also feature a street party to celebrate the Royal Wedding and the FA Cup final on in the club house from 5 pm. I’m going to be there – why dont you?

Is there a better day out in Hampshire on Saturday?