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Noel George’s 1921 FA Cup Final jersey

Noel George’s 1921 FA Cup Final jersey

The annals of football history are full of odd stories. One quaint story comes from the Midlands where Lichfield-born Noel George was goalkeeper for Wolverhampton Wanderers for the 1921 FA Cup Final against Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge.

Cup Final

Spurs won the 1921 final with a goal from Jimmy Dimmock but our story concerns the Wolves goalkeeper of the day, Noel George.

George was an imposing figure, often described as a giant. One article made the dubious claim that he could hold the ball between the thumb and forefinger of either hand. Who are we to doubt this claim?

He first came into the Wolves first team during the 1920/21 season when he took Welsh international goalkeeper Teddy Peers place in the side. He played throughout Wolves’ cup run to the final.

Noel George’s Wolves lost to Spurs in the final.

George would cement his place as a regular in the Wolves team for the next six years. However, an illness curtailed his career and he had to retire in the late 1920s. Sadly the illness that ended his career also ended his life, and he passed away at the terribly young age of only 31.

Lichfield 1946

We pick up the Noel George story again in 1946 in Lichfield where this wonderful article appeared in the Lichfield Mercury

Probably the most ancient jersey ever on display in the annals of the Lichfield and District League was on show on Saturday at the Burntwood Rangers – City Institute game. Spectators were amazed at the spectacle of a tattered pain spattered, bottle-green jersey worn by goalkeeper C. Gough, for the Institute, who was obviously proud of his possession.

Gough’s jersey is one with a famous history and came into his possession at the time of his entry into the City Institute club as goalkeeper last season.

The jersey, over 25 years old, had been worn and was the property of one of Lichfield’s foremost and most distinguished footballers – none other than the late Noel George of Molineux fame. Noel George, a colourful figure in national football during the twenties, wore the jersey when keeping goal for the Wolves in the 1921 Stamford Bridge Cup Final against Tottenham Hotspur. it was a most thrilling final, as some of our older sportsmen will recall Noel George, wearing the same green jersey, only let one goal past him, and it was the winner for Spurs.

Whether Gough, who has played consistently well in goal for the Institute this season wears the jersey through necessity in these couponless times or for sentimental reasons is a matter for conjecture. But, in any case, the jersey is in good hands and, despite its age and tattered appearance, continues to render good service to the cause of local football.

It’s absolutely wonderful to hear that a jersey from the 1921 Cup Final was still in use after the second World War albeit in a local league. It caused a bit of a stir locally at the time but this story is now long forgotten.

The present whereabouts of said jersey are currently unknown.

Source material from the excellent British Newspaper Archive.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2019 in History

 

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England vs Germany – 4th December 1935

England vs Germany – 4th December 1935

Pictures from England vs Germany from the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 13th December 1935. Game took place at White Hart Lane, Tottenham Hotspur on 4th December 1935.

Images via British Newspaper Archive.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2018 in History

 

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Premier League 2013/2014 – a graphical review


The BBC website produces match reports for all of the games every single Premier League side plays during the season. From Premier League and FA Cup, to Champions League to League Cup ties the BBC reports on them all. I thought it would be interesting to compile all of these reports for each of the twenty Premier League sides, and to produce word-clouds for each side. If a particular word is used more often, then it is shown on screen as larger than the other less used words.

I created one for Square One Football Radio, and felt I should create word clouds for all twenty clubs. I used the excellent online tool wordle.net to create the word clouds. Please feel free to use these on your blog or website, but I’d appreciate a link back.

To see a higher resolution image of the word cloud, click on it.

Arsenal

Arsenal

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Aston Villa

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Cardiff City

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Chelsea

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Crystal Palace

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Everton

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Fulham

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Hull City

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Liverpool

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Manchester City

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Manchester United

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Newcastle United

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Norwich City

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Southampton

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Stoke City

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Sunderland

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Swansea City

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Tottenham Hotspur

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West Bromwich Albion

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West Ham United

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2014 in Club

 

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A very short history of floodlit football


“It is without question that first-class football by floodlight is both spectacular and enthralling. With vision fixed to the pitch that alone is illuminated, there can be no distraction at all to disturb or frustrate attention. There is an accentuated feeling of expectation and excitement, and the speed of the players and of the game itself is, or seems to be, increased. The flash of bright-coloured jerseys against the bright green of the grass combine in one “vistavision” panorama, but with the added reality of live people seen in the flesh.”

Arthur Rowe, former Tottenham Hotspur manager, Caxton’s Encyclopedia of British Football and Association Football

Floodlit football is something we’ve all grown accustomed to in the modern era. But there was a time in the dim and distant past where floodlit games were frowned upon and even discouraged by the establishment. Remarkably it was as late as 1950 that the Football Association of England allowed floodlit games to take place, and that was only with prior arrangement. English football was a late adopter of floodlights, with countries in South America and on the continent introducing them far earlier. This is perhaps unsurprising when you consider the heat of the day in South America.

Despite official introduction being twenty years away it didn’t stop the London clubs experimenting with lights. In the early 1930s, London clubs Spurs, Arsenal, West Ham and Chelsea joined together to play a match against a representative side at White City Stadium (a ground that would later host France against Uruguay in the group stages of the ’66 World Cup). Not only was the match floodlit, but also played with a (then unfamiliar) white ball that was washed every time it left the field of play in order that its luminescence was maintained throughout. In a few floodlit experiments in the late 19th Century teams had even gone as far as painting the ball with whitewash in order to improve its visibility and following the ball around the pitch from one large spotlight placed on the halfway line.

Floodlights at Bracknell Town's Larges Lane ground

Floodlights at Bracknell Town‘s Larges Lane ground

Despite the seeming reticence on the part of the authorities, games under lights became necessary for many clubs as the financial realities of professional football hit. Stadiums that could only be used on a Saturday but had to lie dormant throughout the week didn’t make sound business sense. Indeed, the inability to fit in fixtures during the working week led to league fixtures having to be scheduled on Christmas Day as well as the now traditional Boxing Day. Despite these limitations on playing official fixtures under lights, many clubs were playing games against touring European sides during the week in order to entertain fans and to boost coffers. However, the need for further competitions and matches to supplement the league schedule was strong.

Suggestions such as the creation of an Anglo-Scottish-Floodlit-Cup were proposed. After all, many of the big clubs in England were regularly playing test matches against Scottish opposition already, and codifying these these friendlies into an organised competition seemed like a sensible idea. Incidentally, this is very similar to how UEFA are currently treating their League of Nations idea to replace international friendlies. Despite these possibilities being fielded they never got past the drawing board stage.

Eventually under pressure from club sides the FA acquiesced, and in the early 50s FA Cup replays began to be played during the week, and following on from this league fixtures were finally permitted to be played under lights in the mid 1950s. The rest is history.

I’ll leave you with a quote from the previously mentioned Caxton’s Encyclopedia of British Football and Association Football on the future of floodlit football from former Tottenham Hotspur manager Arthur Rowe:

“If we let our imagination run riot a little if we can, of course, be terrifically enthusiastic about the potential of a Grand European Floodlit League with all matches played in mid-week, Without doubt some great matches would be certain.”

I must admit, I find the name Grand European Floodlit League far more palatable than European Champions League. It certainly describes the league more accurately, and in my view more romantically.

For a more rounded explanation on the history of football floodlights I’d recommend spending some time on footysphere’s marvellous site. You can also view hundreds of pictures of floodlights at this lovely tumblr site Floodlight Fancy.

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2014 in History

 

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Late 1970s proposal for a British Super League


In the late 1970s a company called Marshall Cavendish released a series of football magazines which the avid reader would slip into binders to create their very own football encyclopaedia. One of the articles contained within is a lament about the struggles of the British game and part of the argument for improvements made by the author suggests the introduction of a British Super-League.

The author has chosen an interesting selection of sides, many of which would be unlikely to feature should the list be drawn up today. He uses criteria such as recent attendances as well as success to decide whether clubs should be admitted to such a league.

 

Would these be the super-clubs?

Would these be the super-clubs?

The proposed British super-league contains a few oddities. The first being that the two Edinburgh and Sheffield clubs are expected to merge (and are even wearing half-and-half kits to denote that). Other interesting aspects of the proposal are that teams like Coventry City and Derby County are included amongst the elite.

Clubs proposed: Celtic, Rangers, Edinburgh, Newcastle United, Liverpool, Manchester United, Leeds United, Sheffield, Everton, Manchester City, Wolves, West Brom, Coventry City, Derby County, Nottingham Forest, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Southampton.

Interesting omissions: Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Sunderland and the exclusion of all Welsh/Irish clubs (though perhaps understandable).

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2013 in Club

 

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Game 39: We’ve been here before haven’t we?


You might assume that the practice of two English clubs facing one another abroad was a recent invention, something adopted as part of the Premier League’s plan for global domination, however that assumption is far from correct. We haven’t quite reached the point where a Premier League match is hosted abroad, but that can’t be too far away, however friendly matches involving two English clubs are commonplace in the pre-season calendar (America and the far East being the two favoured destinations).

I was pleased to see on twitter early this evening James Dart posting a link to a match programme from 1989 featuring Middlesbrough and Coventry City. The two clubs were both on tour in Bermuda at the time and played one another in a friendly. A poorly filmed YouTube video shows Peter Davenport scoring a goal for Middlesbrough. (Hat tip to Christopher Ledger for that).

 

 

Whilst 1989 may seem like the dim and distant past, there are instances of English teams playing one another on foreign soil from early in the 20th Century. A great example of this comes from Willy Meisl’s book “Soccer Revolution”:

“Then on 7 May 1905 Hugo* staged an exhibition game between Everton and Tottenham. The two teams fought as if it were a Cup-tie. Never before had the 10,000 spectators – the crowd record was doubled by this sensational encounter – seen such tackling. Tottenham were favourites, but Everton won 2-0.”

* – Hugo Meisl, the author Willy’s brother who managed the Austrian ‘Wunderteam’ during the 1930s

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2013 in Club

 

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Premier League: Doing the double over other clubs


If a club wins both the home fixture and the away fixture during a league season then they are said to have “done the double” over that side. In the Premier League during the 2012/2013 season 16 of the 20 sides did the double over a rival.

The following lists show the teams that each club in the Premier League managed to do the double against.

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10

  • Manchester United: Southampton, Sunderland, Stoke City, QPR, Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Fulham, Wigan Athletic, Reading and Liverpool.

7

  • Chelsea: Sunderland, Stoke City, Aston Villa, Norwich City, Everton, Wigan Athletic and Arsenal.

6

  • Arsenal: QPR, Newcastle United, West Brom, West Ham, Wigan Athletic and Reading.
  • Manchester City: Newcastle United, Aston Villa, West Brom, Fulham, Wigan Athletic and Reading.
  • Tottenham Hotspur: Southampton, Sunderland, Aston Villa, Swansea City, West Ham and Reading.

4

  • Liverpool: QPR, Norwich City, Fulham and Wigan Athletic.
  • West Brom: Southampton, Sunderland, QPR and Liverpool.

3

  • Swansea City: QPR, Newcastle United and Wigan Athletic.

2

  • Aston Villa: Sunderland and Reading.
  • Southampton: Aston Villa and Reading.

1

  • Everton: West Ham.
  • Fulham: West Brom.
  • Sunderland: Wigan Athletic,
  • Stoke City: QPR.
  • Newcastle United: QPR.
  • Wigan Athletic: Reading

0

  • Norwich City: None.
  • QPR: None.
  • Reading: None.
  • West Ham: None.

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Of the three relegated sides Wigan Athletic were the only team who managed to win home and away against another club (Wigan did the double over fellow relegated side Reading).

Four sides in the Premier League did not lose home and away to another club. Those sides were Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Manchester United. Nine clubs did the double over eventual FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic.

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2013 in Club, Statistics

 

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Premier League table for the 2012 calendar year


Manchester United were the club who picked up the most Premier League points during 2012. They are followed by their city rivals Manchester City who despite losing the same number of games as United, couldn’t convert many of their draws to wins.

prem2012final

Interestingly Everton picked up more points than both Chelsea and Arsenal during 2012 though this may have something to do with the fact that Everton played more games than both Chelsea and Arsenal during the year. Additionally the contrast between Everton and their neighbours across Stanley Park is stark. Liverpool only won 11 out of their 38 games in 2012. The only two sides who weren’t relegated or promoted during 2012 with a lower points tally than Liverpool were Aston Villa and QPR.

For more statistics related to the 2012 calendar year including stats from the Football League, take a look at the ever excellent Sporting Intelligence.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2013 in Club, Statistics

 

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Premier League 2011/2012 to 2012/2013 player changes

Premier League 2011/2012 to 2012/2013 player changes

The close season is traditionally a time where clubs jettison their weak players, replacing them with footballers with the skill to take the club one step further, whether that be to qualify or European competition or avoid another year’s relegation struggle. With that in mind I thought it would be interesting to see which clubs decided a wholesale change would be preferable to keeping faith with the players who toiled their way through the 2011/2012 season.

I took the line-ups from the last day’s action of  the twenty Premier League sides of the 2011/2012 season (this includes West Ham, Southampton and Reading’s last Championship game of the season) and compared these line-ups with the opening day of this year’s Premier League season (2012/2013). The headline figure from this process is that 40% of all players who started the first game of the 2012/2013 season did not start in the last game of the 2011/2012 season (or if they did, it was for a different football club). Obviously this 40% is not entirely made up of new signings as it also includes players who were on the squads of their current teams last season but for whatever reason (be that injury or not being selected) did not start the game.

TEN

Of the twenty current Premier League clubs no club fielded an identical line-up between the end of last season and the start of this season. However, two clubs made only one change. These two clubs were Everton and Manchester City who fielded ten players on the last day of the 2011/2012 season that also started in the club’s opening fixture this season. The only difference between the Everton XI against Newcastle United in 2011/2012 and their opening day side that started (and defeated) Manchester United is that Sylvian Distin started against Manchester United. Interestingly Distin did play against Newcastle in 2011/2012 when he came on as a substitute for Hetinga. We weren’t to know it at the time but between the minutes of ’70 and ’74 the team Everton had on the field against Newcastle United would be the identical eleven that would start the season against Manchester United over three months later. It’s perhaps ironic (if you enjoy using the term loosely, or incorrectly) that the only change in Manchester City‘s starting line-up for their opening day 3-2 victory over Southampton to their last day win against QPR was the inclusion of Everton’s (another club who enjoy making few changes) Jack Rodwell (a replacement for Gareth Barry).

NINE

Two clubs who enjoyed successful seasons in 2011/2012 also made very few changes. Wigan Athletic and Newcastle United only made two changes between the end of last season and the beginning of this. Wigan Athletic brought in new signing Ivan Ramis and burly centre-half Alvaro Alcaraz whilst Alan Pardew also made defensive changes with Danny Simpson and Steve Taylor joining the starting XI. Of all the Premier League clubs it’s only Everton and Newcastle United that fielded starting elevens on the opening day of the 2012/2013 season who were also contracted to the club in the previous season.

EIGHT

Tottenham HotspurReading and Stoke City all started eight players who started last season’s finale. The three clubs had differing reasons for their trio of changes. Spurs were under a new manager in Andre Villas-Boas who was trying to put his own stamp on the side with new signing Gylfi Sigurdsson starting alongside Jermaine Defoe in attack. The Biscuitmen, promoted under Brian McDermott last season, fielded three new signings in Chris Gunter, Danny Guthrie and Pavel Pogrebnyak who they hope will help keep them in the division. Finally Stoke City in an attempt to consolidate their presence in the Premier League started with Marc Wilson, Asmir Begovic and Michael Kightly, none started The Potters’ final game of the 2011/2012 season.

SEVEN

Sunderland, Southampton, Swansea City and West Ham United began the season with seven of the eleven who began the last game of the previous season. Notable signings for these sides included Swansea’s Michu and Chico who have made impacts for differing reasons in the opening weeks of the season for their goalscoring and red card exploits. Similarly to Reading, Saints have signed players they feel are good enough to keep them in the division, both Jay Rodriguez and Nathaniel Clyne started in their opening 2012/2013 fixture. Martin O’Neil has started his first full season as Sunderland boss and fielded new signing Carlos Cuellar in the Rokerites’ (no I didn’t get the memo) first match of the season.

SIX

2011/2012 Premier League runners-up Manchester United fielded five players on the opening day who didn’t start the last game of the previous seaosn. These included the injured Tom Cleverley and Nemanja Vidic as well as new signing Shinji Kigawa. Other clubs who featured five different players were Fulham, Norwich City and West Brom.

FIVE

QPR and Liverpool were the two sides that fielded five players for the last game of the 2011/2012 season who also started the 2012/2013 season. QPR’s slapdash signings have led to the likes of Fabio,  Ji-Sung Park, Robert Green and confused Julian Hoilett playing for the London club whilst Liverpool’s new boss Brendan Rodgers has brought the likes of Joe Allen and Fabio Borini to Anfield.

FOUR

The four Arsenal players to survive from the last game of last season were Gervinho, Wojciech Szczesny, Thomas Vermaelen and Carl Jenkinson. The seven players who started this season were Santiago Cazorla, Abou Diaby, Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski, Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker and Kieran Gibbs. Podolski and Carzola were the two new signings for the north-London club. The other five players were already on the books at Arsenal.

THREE

Only three of Chelsea‘s line-up for the final game of the 2011/2012 season started this season’s opener. This can largely be explained by the fact that Roberto di Matteo was resting a lot of his star men in preparation for the Champions League Final against Bayern Munich. I think it’s fair to say that this tactic worked as his Chelsea side were victorious in a penalty shoout-out after a gruelling period of extra-time. For the record, the three Chelsea players who played in last season’s last game and this season’s opener were Ryan Bertrand, captain-fantastic John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic.

The other side who only had three players to achieve the feat were Aston Villa. I think this case is a little less surprising than most. Villa sacked their manager Alex McLeish in the summer, replacing him with Norwich boss Paul Lambert. Despite replacing a Scotsman with a Scotsman it appears Lambert has his own ideas on how he wants Aston Villa to play. The only three players who started in McLeish’s last game and Lambert’s first were Stephen Ireland. Ciaran Clark and Shay Given.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2012 in Club, Featured

 

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TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR SEASON REVIEW 2011/2012


Tottenham Hotspur joined the long list of clubs that will be looking for a new manager before the start of next season. After a successful period at the club Harry Redknapp was sacked as manager of Spurs. His car window interviews will be missed by the press who loved his “no-nonsense” style. His popularity with the press is evident from the BBC Match Reports. “Redknapp” was one of the most used terms in Tottenham match reports during the 2011/2012 season.

The below word cloud was generated using all of Tottenham Hotspur’s match reports from the BBC website from the 2011/2012 season. The more frequently a word is used, the larger it appears on screen. The image was generated using the wonderful wordle.net.

Click here to make bigger

Click here to make bigger

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2012 in Club

 

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