Monday, 20 December 2010

Freeman's Ground

In December 1891 Thomas Freeman, a local builder, plumber and decorator of 127 Grove Lane, began work on a piece of land at the rear of Champion Hill House and Oakfield House. This area today takes in the Sainsburys Superstore and Dulwich Hamlet FC's present stadium. Access to the land was gained via an entrance in the south part of the road Champion Hill. *

Freeman's intention was to construct a new cricket ground and tennis courts in the area. However, the site eventually became more celebrated for football than the summer pastimes. In fact, the first recorded game to be contested took place during Christmas week, with the ground still in process of formation - a match between St Saviour's FC and Lorn FC. A certain H. Freeman, possibly Thomas Freeman's own son Harry, scored the first goal.

The following year, having obtained a twenty year counterpart lease, Freeman received planning permission to build three wood and iron cricket pavilions. The Champion Hill Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club were the main tenants throughout and beyond the period of the leasehold, with various other clubs using the ground for association football during the winter period. Of these, Dulwich Hamlet, who occupied the ground from 1902, were the most forward thinking.

Although excellently situated only five minutes’ walk from Denmark Hill railway station, access to the ground was much more difficult for the club's East Dulwich supporters. Their lot was to ascend Dog Kennel Hill or Green Lane to Champion Hill, and then come all the way back down a steep incline to the enclosure. An entrance was therefore obtained at the end of the row of houses in Constance Road, just before the Infirmary.

Many other ground improvements were made over the years, and in 1906 a new stand was built to hold 250 people. "It should attract the wives and lady loves in greater numbers than ever." said the local reporter. By then Mr Freeman's Ground, had lost its original appellation and was simply known as Champion Hill. Dulwich Hamlet had also become a very successful club and were attracting crowds of several thousands.

At the start of the 1911-12 season the Hamlet were informed they would not be able to use their playing field for the whole season, but would have to repaint the pitch further down the field [the current Dulwich Hamlet site]. With the lease coming to its end in 1912, and with an uncertain future looming, Dulwich Hamlet set their sights on an adjacent plot of unused meadowland that had become available at the rear of the gardens of Cleve Hall. [The Astroturf pitch in the image below] Here, they created a new smaller enclosure that was to be their home for the next twenty years.

From as early as 1923 plans were drawn up for the original Freeman's site to be turned into a splendid football ground that could hold more than 20,000 people. In 1931 the dream was fully realised, and the Hamlet opened the famous old Champion Hill Ground, as well as another pitch known as the ‘top pitch' for the reserves. Now, almost eighty years later the Hamlet are still there - albeit, with a more compact stadium built in 1992 - but still operating from the place once known as Freeman's Ground
Aerial shot of the Champion Hill ground. The first overlay shows the 1931-91 ground, and the second overlay shows where the pitch was compared to today, just a few yards away. 

* Downhill from the stone sign that reads "Dulwich Manor extends from this stone eastward 27 feet, 1805."

Original article written for a book on East Dulwich published in 1998.
Copyright: Jack McInroy ©

Monday, 29 November 2010

A Greater Than Jonas…?


“I have often wondered why Dick Jonas – one of the greatest centre half backs to play amateur soccer - never gained international honours.”
Norman Ackland Football Writer, 1950.

One of the key figures in the grand history of the Dulwich Hamlet Football Club is Richard H. Jonas. During the inter-war period he captained Dulwich Hamlet for six years in the1920s and was Honorary Secretary from 1924 to 1939. This put him at the helm in the most successful period of the Club’s history.

Heads We Win !
When the Isthmian League side Shepherd’s Bush FC found that it was unable to continue after the First World War, their Loftus Road ground was sold to Queen’s Park Rangers and their former players looked for other clubs. The captain of the West London club before the war had been Richard Henry Jonas, known to all and sundry as ‘Dick’. On his return from national duties, and now residing south of the Thames, Dick Jonas tossed a coin to decide which of three Isthmian sides based in South London he would join - Nunhead, West Norwood or Dulwich Hamlet. On the second spin Fate smiled on the Hamlet. And they were eternally grateful.
If the coin had favoured one of the other two clubs, maybe West Norwood would have filled a higher placing than second from bottom in 1919-20, or Nunhead’s goal average might possibly have bettered that of Dulwich making them champions instead in that first full season after the war. It’s all hypothetical in the end. But what we can say is that it was with Jonas in the pivotal role of centre half that Dulwich’s ‘Victory’ team completed an incredible season that they have yet to surpass. Club captain Jack Guilliard may have held the trophies aloft - the FA Amateur Cup, Surrey Senior Cup and London Charity Cup as well as the [trophyless] Isthmian League Championship - but one can be sure that his job was made easier by further great leadership qualities coming from Dick Jonas at the heart of the defence. It made Jonas the obvious successor when Guilliard left Dulwich at the end of the season.
Early Success
Born in west London in 1887, Dick Jonas, was spotted at an early age. Captain of his school team, he was soon making a name for himself as skipper of the very successful West Kensington FC, a team so prominent they won all the Junior cups in West London in one season. From junior football he jumped straight into the Shepherd’s Bush first team, and eventually went on to become one of the foremost players of his day.
One of his most memorable matches was in 1912, when as a member of a Shepherd’s Bush touring party, Jonas played in a match against a Spanish national eleven. The occasion marked the opening of a new football ground in Spain, officially opened by King Alfonso, who met the teams before the match. Those were the days when an English club side abroad (amateur or professional) was almost certain of victory whoever they played.
At this time Jonas was at the top of his form and certainly a player in demand. He was called upon to play for the first ever Isthmian League Select XI. This representative match against the Spartan League, at Aylesbury in 1912, was in aid of the fund started for the relief of the survivors of the Titanic disaster. Jonas gained other honours with Middlesex, and obtained his London Cap and Badge in 1913-14. Some years later in 1922 Jonas graced the Middlesex Wanderers team that toured the Netherlands.
Just before the First World War Jonas joined professional side Brentford as an amateur. His stay only lasted a few months, he said he missed the social relationship, later pointing out that, “The professional footballer takes the game as a job of work and immediately afterwards has no further interest in the club or its doings, merely hanging up his towel and going home. Members of amateur clubs, on the other hand, do not necessarily consider the actual game the best part of it, but take great joy in the social side connected with it.”
The Dulwich Hamlet team in March 1922 (wrongly captioned on the Getty Images website)

Tower of Strength
A great club player with the best interests of his team at heart, it was no surprise when, at the start of 1920-21 season, (his second full season with the Hamlet) Jonas was made the Club Captain. He was the ideal choice: a wholehearted footballer with a marvelous personality: a tower of strength setting high standards for himself and his colleagues. However, the following season he was demoted to vice-captain and goalkeeper E.H. ‘Tim’ Coleman, was chosen as skipper. This move acknowledged the fact that Coleman had recently earned the highest accolade – an international cap for the full England team!

In November 1922 Jonas regained the captaincy from the Hamlet’s custodian who was laid aside by an accident of some sort. The matchday programme for December 2nd recorded, “The Club’s congratulations to Mr Dick Jonas who was elected skipper to the first team at a players meeting last Wednesday. We know the value of his generalship on the field and hope he may lead his team in continued success.” He held the position for the next five years, believing that a game could be won in the dressing room, something he proved many times with his stirring team talks. On the field, as well as seeking to balance his own side, he was quick to sense the frailties in the opposition. “Don’t be put off by the stars in the other team,” he’d say, “concentrate on the opponents’ weaker units.”
Jonas led Dulwich Hamlet against Clapton in the Final of the London Charity Cup in 1924. The match resulted in a draw after extra time had been played. As there was only one cup and one set of medals the LFA decided they should toss for it, the winners to have the choice of holding the Cup for the first six months. Jonas won the toss, there was a deep silence, and then he decided to have the medals and let Clapton have the cup. The rest of the Dulwich eleven gave a cheer more of relief than anything else. They thought their captain would choose the cup, but they did not want to wait six months for their medals. Jonas said afterwards he knew the boys wanted the medals and anyway, they had held the ‘pot’ before.
The old photographs appear to show Dick Jonas as a rather dour character. This was true in part but it wasn’t the whole story. When Ernie Toser, who had signed for the Hamlet as a teenager in 1932, asked Dick Jonas for a couple of tickets for family members, the Hamlet Secretary sternly asked. “What do you want tickets for? They are not coming to see you are they?” Jonas was putting the youngster in his place, reminding him that the team was far more important than any individual member. Toser’s initial impression was that Jonas was quite an austere character. “But when you got to know him better he was a nice chap underneath.” said Ernie Toser, seventy years later. “When I left Dulwich Hamlet to join Millwall in 1937, he gave me a glowing testimony. He didn’t try to stop me in any way.”
Jonas was also noted for his infectious laugh. A genuine enthusiasm shone through all he did, and he was an encouragement to everyone. Like many great sportsmen he could also turn his hand to other sports and be just as good with a racquet or a bat. And apparently, he wasn’t a bad singer either.
During a wonderful playing career at Champion Hill, Dick Jonas picked up a complete set of medals, as Dulwich won every amateur competition for which it entered. Having joined the Hamlet during the 1918-19 season, he was a record of consistency. In fact, for a number of years he hardly missed a game. His first serious injury in his long playing career did not occur until the twilight of his playing days, when he was sidelined for a month during the 1924-25 season.
An Officer and a Player
Dick Jonas clearly loved a challenge, and when, in 1924, the Hamlet’s Tom Smith found it necessary to give up his Secretarial duties, Jonas volunteered to fill the breach. The Secretarial work of the Club was enormous, and the large and difficult problems that had recently arisen proved to be a strain on Smith’s health. Smith, himself a former Hamlet player, had only taken the job on following George Wheeler’s untimely death a couple of years before. However, such was Dick Jonas’s dexterity that for two years he was able to combine the roles of both Club Captain and Club Secretary, and continue his job as a civil servant as well.
The London Amateur Football Journal once said of him: “Jonas was one of those great centre half players who was a thorn in the flesh of most amateur centre forwards of his day. He was never afraid to tackle and besides being a player who believed in assisting his forwards to the best of his ability, was always in the thick of the fray in defence when necessity arose. He did not believe in being a pivot acting solely as a policeman to stop thrusting centre forwards, but played the best form of amateur football whether the club was winning or losing.”
A short appreciation of the Hamlet’s likeable captain appeared in the DHFC Handbook for 1924-25. One paragraph read: “The qualifications which go to make up the complete skipper are eminently his: and no one can fail to be keenly alive to his abilities as a player, to the resourcefulness and good judgment of his generalship, to the excellence of his energetic example on the field, and to his integrity and singleness of purpose at the council table.”
Such a testimony, typical of the style of praise heaped upon the esteemed Hamlet gentlemen in those days, spurred Jonas on to even further heights. The London Senior Cup was won at last. This trophy had eluded Dulwich for years, and so it must have been a great joy for him – after beating Clapton 2-0 at The Den – to be the first ever Hamlet skipper to hold it aloft.
The Final itself was no easy tie but the result was a real triumph over adversity. Opponents Clapton were having a great season, whilst Dulwich found it hard raising a side for the game due to one infirmity or other. A catalogue of injured players included Yorkshireman Geoge Hobson, called from his sick bed, Tom Goodliffe sporting a large carbuncle on his neck causing him agony whenever he turned his head, and Dick Jonas playing with both his feet in bandages and hardly able to bear the pain of kicking the ball. With two reserves also drafted into the forward line the task seemed impossible. Yet despite these setbacks Jonas led his team out bubbling with confidence. This was the famous match in which Edgar Kail (playing at centre forward) was denied his hat-trick when the referee blew for full time a split second before the ball entered the net!
In just nine years Dick Jonas picked up sixteen winners medals and two Isthmian League championships with Dulwich Hamlet. Eleven of those were as captain, an exceptional haul by anybody’s standards. What made it more incredible was the fact that this was all achieved in his thirties! He was now forty years old, a veteran of the amateur game, and he decided to call it a day.
On his retirement from the playing field in May 1927 Jonas took his seat permanently at the council table, devoting his time and dynamic energies to the duties of Honorary Secretary. He sat on the four subcommittees: i) Finance ii) Ground iii) Entertainments and iv) “Pa” Wilson Memorial. The wealth of knowledge that he had picked up over the years, from his predecessors and his peers, put him in good stead in amateur football circles. His vast experience and personality proved him to be the perfect candidate to head the management team to lead Dulwich Hamlet into a new era of even greater success.
Wilson Planted, Wheeler Watered, But Jonas saw the Increase.
Jonas was a man after Pa Wilson’s own heart, following in the great man’s footsteps, bringing to fruition the dream that the Hamlet’s founding father had begun. When Lorraine ‘Pa’ Wilson died in 1924, and was buried on the morning of the final game of the season, Dick Jonas was one of the pallbearers. He was extremely proud to carry Pa’s body to its last resting place in West Norwood Cemetery. With George Wheeler and Pa Wilson dead, and Tom Smith in a state of depression, Jonas showed he was a man of exceptional quality when he stepped into the breach. Rallying the troops he held the Club together at a time when things could so easily have fallen apart.
Behind the scenes Jonas put in a great deal of work in connection with the building of a new bigger Champion Hill ground. Naturally reticent about his own input, he deflected the praise onto others, astonished at the wonderful way in which so many individuals loaned the Dulwich Hamlet Football Club the money to construct arguably the best amateur ground in the country. In some cases these were surprisingly large sums, for which the lenders received absolutely no security, trusting implicitly on the good name of the Club to pay them back.
Dick Jonas was appointed one of the Club’s Trustees before the new ground was opened in October 1931. FA Secretary Sir Frederick Wall performed the opening ceremony before a packed house of over 16,000. (Unofficial reports claim 20,000.) Champion Hill was now surely the best amateur football ground in the whole country. But could the team match their illustrious surroundings and produce the best Amateur team. They could, and within a few short months they had the trophy to prove it.

Dulwich Hamlet’s three FA Amateur Cup victories in the thirties - 1932, 1934 and 1937 – are well documented. It was during that era that the name of Dulwich Hamlet Football Club became firmly cemented in the minds of football fans up and down the country.

The Next Generation
Almost engrained in the very fabric at Dulwich Hamlet was the philosophy that the Club was the principal thing. Dick Jonas instilled the same policies and ideals into his staff, traditions that Dulwich Hamlet had been founded on and steeped in since 1893. The right outlook and appropriate attitude was of the utmost importance and all were urged to keep their feet on the ground. Not that Jonas was averse to the players enjoying themselves, or taking a chunk of the credit when they continued to amass the trophies in the 1930s. He had been a player himself, a very successful one, but when he hung up his boots he took a back seat when it came to celebrations. It was the turn of a younger generation, so Jonas kept out of the limelight. What’s more, he rarely joined in the post match meal and socializing with the players and officials at the Club’s headquarters, a local public house.
Dick Jonas had many contacts in the amateur game, enabling him to bring a particular type of man, let alone player, to commit himself to the work in hand. Ernie Toser described many of his colleagues from the thirties side as “Well to do. I was the odd one out.” Men who were businesslike on and off the pitch; men like the Goodliffe brothers, whose family businesses New Century Cleaning and Office Cleaning Services are still today widely acclaimed as two of the most successful companies in their field.
Ernie Toser believed the collection of players that went on to win the Amateur Cup three times in six years was largely down to Dick Jonas. “Dulwich have never had a team like that. It was a wonderful set of players.” What brought the most pleasure was the fact that a number of that great side came through the Junior Section, schooled in the Hamlet’s very own academy.
Taffy Hamer, who captained Dulwich Hamlet to two Amateur Cups in three years, attributed his own success in the centre half position directly to the fact that he studied the game under the tuition of Dick Jonas.
Ernie Toser remembered how Dick Jonas could sometimes be quite canny when he needed to be. His Hamlet side was having a tough time away in the Cup; they had been easily outplayed yet the scores were level after ninety minutes. Jonas quickly ushered his team from the field into the dressing room. “Quick, get your togs off.” he said, “And get straight in the bath.” The referee came in after a few minutes ordering the players that extra time had to be played. “We can’t go back out now.” Jonas replied. Besides, it was now getting dark as well. Amazingly the referee agreed, allowing a tired Dulwich team to fight another day. They won the replay in London.
End Notes
On the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 Dick Jonas was evacuated to Blackpool. Wartime football continued at Champion Hill under the leadership of Eddie Rengger, a former team-mate of Jonas and an official at Dulwich. The new occupant remained in the post throughout the war period and beyond. With the combination of the six year break and the retirement of Jonas, the rhythm had been upset. Things were never going to be the same again.
The general opinion appears to be that Rengger was not the ideal man for the top job, lacking what it takes to manage a big club. Some even suggest that he was the ruination of Dulwich Hamlet. But despite these criticisms the Hamlet picked up a clutch of trophies during his reign. He retired in 1959.
In July 1957 Dick Jonas was unanimously elected a Life Member of the Dulwich Hamlet Football Club. This was long overdue, but still a nice tribute to the man who reaped the greater rewards after Pa Wilson and George Wheeler had completed the groundwork. A more fitting honour, would have been to make Richard H. Jonas the Dulwich Hamlet Club President, but this role had already been given to Len Bawcutt, another great servant of the Club, only the year before. Strangely, the position of President had been vacant since Pa Wilson’s death in 1924, over thirty years earlier.
Dick Jonas eventually moved away from South London and retired to the Sussex coast. He died ten years later aged 80 on 23rd May 1967 at Southlands Hospital Shoreham-on-Sea, a few miles from his home in Worthing.


During the inter war years Dulwich were one of the most successful amateur clubs in the country. At the start of that fruitful period Dick Jonas was a mainstay of the side. His honours included: FA Amateur Cup, Isthmian League twice, London Senior Cup, Surrey Senior Cup three times, London Charity Cup five times (*1 joint), Kings College Hospital Cup four times (*3 joint), Bromley Hospital Cup

RH Jonas Club Honours
Year Captain (Hon Secretary) Honours
1918-19 Guilliard (Wheeler) South London Charity Cup
1919-20 Guilliard (Wheeler) FA Amateur Cup, London Charity Cup, Surrey Senior Cup, Isthmian League
1920-21 Jonas (Wheeler) London Charity Cup
1921-22 Coleman (Wheeler/Smith) * Kings College Hospital Cup, Bromley Hospital Cup
1922-23 Coleman/Jonas (Smith) London Charity Cup, Surrey Senior Cup
1923-24 Jonas (Smith) * London Charity Cup, * Kings College Hospital Cup
1924-25 Jonas (Smith/Jonas) London Senior Cup, Surrey Senior Cup, Kings College Hospital Cup
1925-26 Jonas (Jonas) Isthmian League, London Charity Cup
1926-27 Jonas (Jonas to 1938-39 * Kings College Hospital Cup

Original article from HH9. Copyright: Jack McInroy © 2001

Monday, 2 August 2010

East meets West in South London

The tourists from Hong Kong on the way to play
the first match of the tour against Dulwich Hamlet

In August 1947 the players of the Sing Tao Sports Club of Hong Kong arrived in London for a groundbreaking tour of southern England. League and cup double winners in their own land, the team had embarked on a very successful world tour at the start of the summer.

Success was swift for the oriental club. It was still in its infancy, having only been founded in 1939 by Mr A.W. Hoe, then Hong Kong’s leading newspaper magnate.

The first ports of call were Manilla in the Philippines, Singapore in Malaya and Rangoon in Burmah. Of the 24 matches already played they had won 21. The amateur side were the first Chinese club to visit Britain, and their first match was to be against Dulwich Hamlet. There was much media interest leading up to the opening game, indeed a film crew turned up at Champion Hill to make a newsreel. The Chinese ambassador was also present with the team at Dulwich.

Photographer William Vanderson spent the day with the tourists taking a number of pictures. The shots included: the players enjoying a game of handball at the Stamford Bridge training session on the morning of the opening match with Dulwich; the Sing Tao manager sitting by the goalpost watching his team train; the players in the bath at Chelsea; the party on their way to Dulwich; Chinese naval cadets at Champion Hill; and action shots of the match.

As far back as 19th April 1947 Dulwich Hamlet Football Club stated in its matchday programme “It is probable that a team from China will visit this country in the Autumn, and if so we have been invited to entertain them. We believe the standard of football is very high in China, they beat England [sic] in the last Olympic Games, so we shall have a good attraction early in the new season, which incidentally will commence one week earlier this year.”

According to my records Great Britain actually beat China in the Berlin Olympics of 1936, and not the other way round. But there had been a world war since then so we won’t quibble with the Hamlet press secretary.

The squad of eighteen players was captained by the 41 year-old, Fung King. The veteran of the side had commenced his career twenty years earlier, and had even represented his country in Germany, in the Chinese Olympic team of 1936. He had witnessed major changes in the game including the total restructuring of the Hong Kong Football Association after the Second World War.

Chinese naval cadets from Chatham, complete with handbells and
cheering their team on at Champion Hill.

Following the Hamlet match, Sing Tao completed fixtures against two representative sides: the Athenian League and the Isthmian League. Representing the Isthmian League in their match against the tourists was Dulwich Hamlet’s Pat Connett, a late replacement [for George Bunce] in the Isthmian side. He scored the third ‘home’ goal in a 3-2 victory. Nine matches in all were played on the month long tour against the south’s top amateur sides, including Walton & Hersham (champions of the Corinthian League), Walthamstow Avenue, Oxford City, Ilford, Bromley and Barnet.

I would hazard a guess that Sing Tao - sporting their yellow and black hooped jerseys, black shorts and yellow and black hooped stockings - were nicknamed either the Hornets or the Wasps.

The following report in the South London Press headed
“CHINESE HAD EVERYTHING BUT ABILITY TO SHOOT WELL” appeared a few days after the Hamlet match.

“Though the Chinese footballers who met Dulwich on Saturday were beaten 5-2 the score was very far from being a true indication of the strength of the two teams.

On most occasions the Hong Kong boys did things with the ball that had Hamlet all at sea. Time and again their uncanny anticipation and short passing split the home team’s defence wide open, but not one Chinamen had much in the way of shooting power.

The scoring was opened within two minutes of the start when Tommy Jover, ran the ball past the adbvancing Chinese keeper. Within 20 minutes Beglan and Davies had added two more for the Hamlet.

In that first half the visitors had eight good chances of scoring, but only Che Win Keung could score. The other forwards passed and fiddled until the opportunity had gone.

The second half went pretty much the same way, with the Chinese boys well on top in midfield, but very poor (they even missed a penalty) in front of goal.

Second half goals were scored for Hamlet by Connett and Jones, while Tsao Chiu Ting reduced the deficit.

Hamlet on Saturday’s display will be a hard team to beat this season. Sing Tao Sports Club, once they improve their shooting powers, will be even harder.”

Original article from HH10 2003. Copyright: Jack McInroy ©

Charlie Tyson - A Job Well Done.

If you did any of your schooling at Alleyn's School and happened to be in Tyson House then you may be in for a surprise. Jack McInroy delves into the past to find out a bit more about one of the great Hamlet heroes, C.F. Tyson.

In this generation, no matter how a footballer behaves - on or off the pitch - as long as he's "good enough out there" he'll do. It is his ability alone that counts, some say, and what a player does in his own time should have no bearing on his (semi) professional life. But it wasn't always the case.

For many years, particularly in the early days of the Dulwich Hamlet Football Club, the type of player the club was pleased to attract was one with purely amateur ideals and an exemplary conduct. Several names spring to mind - Kail, Morrish, Smith, Knight, Hegazi, Shipway, Clegg, Thompson and Tyson, to name but a few.

Looking back, from our money orientated perspective, these men characterised much of what was good about a bygone age. And one of the finest gentlemen to grace the pink and blue was the last named among that small list of greats - C.F. Tyson. He only played for Dulwich for four seasons but in that time he achieved great success. It was a shame that Dulwich Hamlet were unable to get a couple of more years service out of him, but an affected lung put an end to his football career. His retirement from the game allowed him to continue wholeheartedly in his 'proper job' - a teaching position at Alleyn's School in Dulwich.

From Liverpool to London
Charles Francis Tyson was born in Liverpool in the spring of 1885. A fellow Lancastrian with Pa Wilson, one can well imagine how this would have endeared the older man to the youngster. 'Tyke', as he was known to his friends, was over six feet in height, but a gentle giant. He had a genuine smile on his face and always found time to speak to those who approached him. His north country accent, we are told, was spoken with clarity and beautiful diction.

Coupled with this, he possessed a fine singing voice that he put to good use at many pre-war (School) Smoking Concerts. These performances usually took place at the end of year, or season, or some other anniversary. I suppose the Edwardian equivalent to the end of season disco fashionable with today's non-league clubs. In those days, however, it was generally the rule that several club members or their wives did 'turns' at such events - the recital of a poem, a piano piece, a comic song or such like. Here, Tyson the popular baritone obliged. I don't know if it is recorded that he ever performed in this way at the Dulwich Hamlet annual Smoker, but he clearly did elsewhere.

Cup Success With Dulwich Hamlet
Two months into the 1908-09 season Charlie Tyson joined Dulwich Hamlet from the Crystal Palace reserves. The tall centre half had a baptism of fire, making his Hamlet debut against professionals West Ham United on bonfire night November the 5th. It was the replay of a London Challenge Cup tie, and Dulwich, down to ten men for half of the game, were soundly beaten 6-0. Two days later in another high scoring match (5-0) Tyson claimed his first goal for the club against Woodford, and the Champion Hill faithful had a new hero. Within a few months, and still only in his early twenties, Tyson tasted his first success with Dulwich. He went on to enjoy a spell at the club which took him to five Cup Finals plus two replays. Tyson was invaluable to his fellow clubmates, and it was once said that "His personality is such as to inspire confidence in the team."

In his first season at Dulwich, Charlie Tyson appeared in the victorious 1909 Surrey Senior Cup Final versus Metrogas, at The Track - Herne Hill, before an 8,000 crowd. The holders again featured in the following year's drawn Final versus Woking. This time Tyson not only played, but was reported as "The best man on the field." In the replay he picked up another winner's medal as Dulwich won the match 2-1.

His next final was the 1911 London Charity Cup Final against Nunhead, that ended in a 1-1 draw. It was Tyson's 'assist' that produced the Dulwich goal. In the replay he went one better and scored himself, in a match that was also drawn. The two clubs became joint holders for the next twelve months.

I am yet to discover whether Tyson took part in the Hamlet's disappointment in the 1912 Surrey Senior Cup Final versus Summerstown, but we do know he wore the 'Captain's armband' in the semi-final with Redhill (Arthur Knight being absent), scoring the goal fifteen minutes from time, that booked Dulwich's place in the final.

The team also appeared in that year's London Charity Cup Final against Nunhead. Tyson scored the Hamlet's second goal in the 3-2 defeat.

1909 Surrey Senior Cup Winner's Medal

1910 Surrey Senior Cup Winner's Medal

1911 London Charity Cup Finalist's Medal (Trophy jointly held)

1912 Surrey Senior Cup Runner's-up Medal

1912 London Charity Cup Runner's-up Medal

Other Honours

A reserve for the England v Belgium international match at Crystal Palace on the 4th March 1911, Tyson must have impressed in training, as he was again picked for the squad that travelled to Paris for the international with France three weeks later. This time he managed to find a place in the team. In so doing Charlie Tyson gained his one and only England cap, and had the great honour of being Dulwich Hamlet's first ever amateur international player.

Around this time Tyson commanded the utmost respect, and was sought after by various representative bodies. He toured Russia (three matches were played in Moscow) and Scandinavia with the English Wanderers, in the company of R.G. Brebner, Herbert Smith, Scothern, Olley, Rev. Hunt, V.J. Woodward, Stapley, Steer, etc.

His county caps included:- Surrey County F.A. 1910 v Paris, v London; 1911 v London, v Hampshire, v Dorset, v Berks.& Bucks., v Household Brigade, v Middlesex. (3 games for a Badge, 5 games for a Cap.)

London F.A. 1910 v Essex, v Spurs, v South Germany. 1912 v Essex, v Birmingham. (Cap & Badge 1911, Cap 1912.)

Saint Tyson
It is recorded that Charles Tyson dropped out of the Dulwich Hamlet team because of scholastic reasons. The impression is given that the big centre half sacrificed his football career with his local amateur eleven for a teaching position. Well, this may be true in part, but it is not the whole truth. Our historians who compiled the 75 Year Book in the 1960s are slightly out. What actually happened at the beginning of the 1912-13 season is that Tyson embarked on a short career with Southampton Football Club!

In fact, he had been on Southampton's books since May 1911, but did not make his debut until the 28th September 1912, against Portsmouth at the Dell. Playing in 14 Southern League games and 2 FA Cup ties in the 1912-13 season, he was described as being "more robust than the average amateur, and was trusted to keep a tight grip on opposing forwards." During his spell with The Saints he still remained a registered player with the Hamlet. [And maybe this is where the confusion lies.]

Incidentally, Charles Tyson's brother Tom, had a slightly more distinguished career, playing for Bolton Wanderers, Chester and Exeter City.

Boldness In War
Tyson was posted in France during the First World War as Quartermaster and Captain with the 105th Field Ambulance Corp. Just after the war finished, on the 13th December 1918, Captain Tyson received a Croix de Guerre - a French gallantry award equivalent to a military cross or medal. It is highly likely that as a stretcher bearer he showed great bravery, putting his life at risk rescuing wounded Ally soldiers. He was Mentioned in Dispatches.

Croix de Guerre

Alleyn's School
Whilst on the continent Tyson was able to polish up his French, which was the subject he went on to teach so well at school. It comes as no surprise to also learn that he was in charge of football at Alleyn's for many years.

He joined Alleyn's School in 1911, and was one of two Housemasters that served in the war. In 1921, and in honour of the school's two war heroes, two more Houses were added (to the existing six) to the School's House system. Thus Tyson House came into being.

A real gentleman and a true patriot, Tyson always wanted the best for those under his care and he was ready to serve his country in the best way possible. He established a Cadet Corp. at the beginning of the First World War, before he went to France. He also helped the war effort during the period of the Second World War when he set up the South London Emergency Secondary School (SLESS) based within Alleyn's building. He eventually became the Head, a post he held until the end of the war. Looking back on his time at SLESS he wrote of it as "A job well done." He retired from teaching in 1947.

Tyson's Death
Charles Francis Tyson died a few months before his 80th birthday at Harestone Nursing Home, Caterham, Surrey on the 31st October 1964. (Three days after Champion Hill's first floodlit match against Chelsea.) His address at the time of death was 16 Palace Road, SW2, less than two miles from Champion Hill. He left £7,419 in his will.

His death occurred in the same football season as the passing of Bill Smart one of his old team-mates, Jack Hugo, Gil Goodliffe and Leslie Bowker - all former Hamlet stalwarts - yet sadly, his demise seems to have gone unnoticed by the club. (I may be wrong, only there is no mention in the 75 Year Book, whereas the other four gentlemen are. This suggests that links between C.F. Tyson and the Hamlet were severed many years earlier.) Well, if it's not too late for a quick obituary to Mr Tyson regarding his association with Dulwich Hamlet F.C. then I'd like to use his own words, and say, "It was a job well done."

Alleyn's School, Dulwich.

In piecing together this short article I am indebted to Mr Arthur Chandler, honourary archivist of Alleyn's School, Mr John Blackmore, historian of amateur international footballers and Mr Duncan Holley, official historian to Southampton F.C.

Original article from HH2 Summer 1998. Copyright: Jack McInroy ©

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Croydon Globetrotters

by Jack McInroy

This article is from 2006 and was prompted by Geoff Robbins' original article for the Hamlet Historian. (See image at the foot of this piece) Much has happened in the intervening years, especially for Roy Hodgson who returned to England and to Fulham one of his former clubs. Having taken them on a wonderful journey to the final of the UEFA Europa Cup he now faces a new challenge as the manager of Liverpool in the Premiership and the Champions League.

Just before last summer’s World Cup match between England and Sweden, Marcus Christenson of The Observer wrote a piece about Lars Lagerback, the Sweden coach (18 June 2006). Midway through the article we read:

"The English influence, however, does not stop with live transmission of Premiership games. The two coaches who started the revolution that led to Swedish clubs doing extremely well in the 1970s and early 1980s were both English. The contribution of Bob Houghton and Roy Hodgson cannot be underestimated. They completely transformed Swedish football in the late 1970s as they brought 4-4-2, pressing and revolutionary training techniques to the country. Houghton came to Sweden in 1973 after spells as assistant coach at Ipswich and head coach at Maidstone and won his first league title in his first year with Malmo FF. In 1975, his mate from Croydon, Hodgson, led Halmstad to their first title.

The success of the two coaches caused an almighty debate in Sweden. Many saw their football as extremely defensive, too organised and consisting of too many long balls (funny then that, 30 years later, the FA decided to employ a Swede heavily influenced by Houghton and Hodgson as the coach to take England forward). The other camp, led by Lars 'Laban' Arneson, was preaching 4-3-3 and free-flowing football. In the end, he was won over by the continued success of 'the English way'. It culminated with Malmo FF reaching the 1979 European Cup final and IFK Gothenburg, under Eriksson, winning the 1982 Uefa Cup.

Lagerback, meanwhile, sat firmly in the English camp. 'I was lucky because I was accepted into this football education at the same time as Bob came to Sweden and I went to the same class as the Malmo player Roland Andersson. So I got my education with the Swedish Football Association and also went around as a little kid to Bob's house at Malmo FF. I was very privileged.

'They introduced a whole new way of playing football. Before that, Swedish teams had been very influenced by German teams and were playing man-to-man marking. But they came with zonal marking and a new way of starting attacks. It was something unique. And I think Bob was 27 years old when he came here and that is fascinating. A young guy coming over to tell us how to play football.' "

Bob Houghton joined Swedish club Malmo in 1974, and immediately showed he meant business by learning the native language in less than two months of night school. In the six years Houghton was at the helm, he steered Malmo to three Swedish champion-ships, runners up position twice, and the Swedish Cup on four occasions. In building a solid and steady team, Houghton chose local players – ten of the side were actually from Malmo and had come up through the youth ranks – which built up an enormous connection with the people of the town. In the fifth year of his leadership his side reached the European Cup Final, but were narrowly beaten by Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest, with Trevor Francis scoring his famous diving header in the Munich final. Although Houghton was a well established manager by then, he was actually younger than a number of the players in the final. In fact it didn’t seem that long ago that he was ‘Bobby’ Houghton teenage midfielder flourishing in the Fulham reserves.

He arrived at Craven Cottage from Dulwich Hamlet’s third string, the ‘A’ team, as part of a younger element brought in by new coach Dave Sexton. Yet despite his own failure to break into the first team, and Fulham’s struggles with relegation he was light years from Champion Hill where Dulwich were having a miserable time. One couldn’t think of a better education on a training field, lining up alongside past, present and future England internationals – the maestro Johnny Haynes, Bobby Robson, World Cup winner George Cohen and frontman Alan Clarke. Malcolm MacDonald and John Ryan (future Dulwich manager) were also in the ranks.

Aged just 19, Houghton received his first coaching certificate, and following a short spell at Brighton (1969-70) and Hastings United he gave up playing and took up coaching altogether. He held the record as the youngest ever coach to gain an FA Full Badge ('A' Licence). In 1972 he joined Ipswich Town as an assistant coach under his former colleague and boss, Bobby Robson.
But it was abroad where Houghton was to make his name in the football world. His first expedition took him to a far flung corner of the globe, and South African team Arcadia. Then followed his first spell in Scandinavia where he revolutionised Swedish football and earned himself the coveted ‘Sports Leader of the Year’ award.
The jaunt in the European Cup put Malmo FF firmly on the map, and Sweden’s first Brazilian arrived at the club. However, twenty one year old Monteiro was recruited without Houghton’s knowledge, and showing his disapproval, the manager confined him to the reserves after barely 15 minutes of first team football – and that was only a friendly! “Houghton was insane.” said Monteiro, “When he put me on the bench in the youth side I had had enough. I also couldn’t stand his boring style of football. The goalkeeper would send the ball as far up field as possible in the hope that it would land at the feet of someone who could take it down and score.” Before his return to Brazil, Monteiro was involved in a tennis doubles match against Houghton. “There was only one thing in my mind. I was going to smash the ball in his face.” But he had never played tennis before and was unable to carry out his desire.

As mentioned in the opening piece, another young coach, Sven Goran Eriksson, was keenly attracted by Malmo’s typically English approach, and adopted a similar pattern at Gothenburg, which brought that club success in the 80s, and set Eriksson on the road to becoming the first foreigner, two decades later, to manage the England team.

From Malmo Houghton moved to Greek club side Ethnikos, before returning to England to take over the reins at Bristol City in 1980. However, his homecoming turned out to be disastrous and the club were not only relegated but faced bankruptcy. The Ashton Gate fans have never forgiven him. Wisely, Houghton caught the next plane to Canada, and Toronto based NASL team The Blizzard, which he took to two successive Soccer Bowl finals.

Two separate spells in the Middle East with the Al Ittihad club in the mid 80s and early 90s resulted in victory in the Saudi Arabian Federation Cup in 1993. In between he returned to Sweden with Gothenburg-based club Orgryte (OIS) and later with his old club Malmo. A stint at FC Zurich in Switzerland and then he was back in the USA (Dec 95), where he was named head coach of the newly formed Colorado Rapids FC in Denver for the inaugural season of Major League Soccer. His return to England in 1997 saw him take up the assistant manager’s role at Nottingham Forest under Dave Bassett. Forest played some outstanding football, and although Houghton left midway through the season, Forest topped the Division and won promotion to the Premiership.

In millennium year Bob Houghton was managing China, helping them qualify for the 2002 World Cup Finals. Again, he adapted to a new culture and learned a new language. Within days he had memorised the names of all his players instilling much confidence in the squad. He went on to manage the Uzbekistan national team, then Chinese side Shenyang Ginde before becoming the new India boss on 20 June 2006. (Houghton pictured with Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi in New Delhi.)

Roy Hodgson’s career remarkably echoes his friend Bob Houghton’s in such a way that you would think they were joined at the hip. It’s not just initials that they share; like Houghton, Croydon born Roy Hodgson (along with Lennie Lawrence and Steve Kember) was educated at John Ruskin Grammar School in Shirley. The South London – South of England – South Africa connection (Houghton with Fulham, Hastings, Arcadia) is also present with Hodgson a fringe player at Crystal Palace, Maidstone, Gravesend & Northfleet and Berea Park respectively.

In 1976, in territory already chartered by Houghton, he joined Swedish side Halmstad, as coach and led them to the championship in his first season in charge (below), and again three years later. They eventually formed a duo at Bristol City, with Hodgson as assistant manager. He took over for a while when Houghton left the club.
Hodgson returned to Sweden, this time with Orebro SK and later with Malmo, his friend’s old club, where he also saw a deal of success. In 1990, Swiss club Neuchatel Xamax employed his services, which led directly to the assignment as head coach of the national team. After taking Switzerland to the 1994 World Cup in the USA and gaining qualification to Euro 96, he could not resist the offer made by Milan giants Internazionale. During his supervision he led Inter to the Uefa Cup Final and in the bargain was able to persuade England midfielder Paul Ince to stay at the club,. His next move to Blackburn Rovers brought reasonable success, as he procured the English side a place in Europe. A second brief spell with Inter followed, before the short hop across the border to the Grasshoppers of Zurich.

When the England manager’s job became available in 2000, Hodgson was one of the few men in the frame, but he was pipped at the post, rather ironically, by his protégé Sven Goran Eriksson. His succession of club and national sides continued with Copenhagen (Denmark), Udinese (Italy), United Arab Emirates and Viking FK (Norway). In January of this year Roy Hodgson added another feather to his bow – Finland.
Bob Houghton and Roy Hodgson can truly be regarded as two of football’s top globetrotters. Both multilingual, managing on the continents of Europe, Africa, North America and Asia, they have a combined coaching career of over sixty years and are among the most respected coaches around the world.

However, their style of play does not suit everybody. Former Crystal Palace fringe player Bill Laing, who signed as a schoolboy in 1968, remembers Hodgson and Houghton. “I used to go to Bisham Abbey with Surrey Schoolboys. I think they both turned up there along with the goalkeeper Mick Kelly. They used to coach the youngsters at Waddon, behind the Payne’s Poppets factory. I consider the likes of Hodgson, Houghton and co as the beginning of the end for our football. I just used to nod but never listen, then go out and run at people, take them on and score goals. All they have done is organise it so all the mediocre players can gang up on their 18 yard line and stop the flair players. Forty years on and the trash you are now witnessing is the end product, with the ball in play for just forty minutes, out of the ninety.”

But despite the critics at home and abroad, each one has studied the game of football methodically. Houghton alone, has written extensively on it, and has had at least three books published, ‘Football’, ‘How to Play Soccer,’ and ‘Management and Leadership – A Personal Approach’. In Sweden he had a column in a daily newspaper and hosted a weekly radio show. He has worked for the FA, been a consultant to the Canadian national team and was appointed one of FIFA’s elite coaching instructors.

So, as one prepares his Indian side for a shout at the 2010 World Cup finals, and the other, Finland for Euro 2008 and the World Cup, I wonder if they ever spare a thought for Dulwich Hamlet Football Club and their short sojourn at Champion Hill in the mid sixties. Two teenage boys, in swinging London with the world at their feet – they could not have dreamt where their paths would lead them.

Notes: Trawling through the internet trying to piece together information on Hodgson and Houghton threw up some very odd bits and bobs. A handful of scans of a roneo produced annual schools cricket magazine from 1959 shows smiley faced schoolboy Houghton in a cricket line-up. The team photo is the Croydon Schools Under 13s XI. The following year Houghton is captain and opening bat for the Whitehorse School cricket team. On The same webpage 86.htm we find a memory from a former schoolmate: “[Bobby] was a lad with great confidence and sporting ability. Once, while watching the Primary Schools Football Final in 1958 (Benson versus Shirley Church of England), held at Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park football ground, he managed to spit from an upper stand right in the middle of an adult spectator's bowler hat on the level below – without detection!”
Houghton can also be seen in a brief television interview in Sweden in 1975.
Sources: Houghton the new troubleshooter for the Blizzard by Rocky Grimmer. Soccer Illustrated Magazine Feb/Mar1982.,,3258,456834,00.html

Original article from HH16. Copyright: Jack McInroy ©

Monday, 7 June 2010

The Famed UK Tourists of Nigeria

Etim Henshaw

In all probability Etim Richard Ekeng Henshaw is a name few of our readers are familiar with. To learn that he died in the city of Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, Nigeria at the ripe old age of 89 in November last year may still not ring any bells. However, this man played an important role in the history of the Nigerian national football team, and one of their earliest matches was against Dulwich Hamlet at Champion Hill.

The son of the ambassador in London, Etim Henshaw captained the first Nigerian FA Select XI. This squad of eighteen was assembled in the summer of 1949, and arrived in the United Kingdom at the end of August to see how they would fare against some of England’s leading amateur teams and representative sides. With post-war Britain still under rations the visitors brought plenty of their own supplements of yams, oils, rice, jam, peppers, dried shrimps and hams. However, the precious cargo was the players themselves.

The manager, a white man called Mr Holley, also happened to be the Chairman of the Nigerian FA, and in the short space of a month he undoubtedly learned an extraordinary amount about the playing of the game as well its structure and organization. The players, aged between 20 and 29, were made up of two teachers, two clerks, seven railway employees and members of the Nigerian Marine Department, an offshoot of our own Royal Navy.

In his hometown, Henshaw led the attack of the Marine FC of Lagos of which he was captain. Some of the other men also played for them. Perhaps it was for this reason that after the party arrived in Liverpool docks, the first opponents they were to face were Merseyside amateurs Marine of Crosby. An impressive display saw the visitors overrun the scousers by five goals to two. They were off to a good start.

A journey to the North East for the second game saw them take on Bishop Auckland. Again the score was 5-2, but this time it was a reverse of fortunes. In front of a huge 13,000 crowd Henshaw scored both of the away goals, the first a header and the second direct from a freekick.

Henshaw shaking hands with Bishop Auckland captain

Picture Post photojournalist Charles Hewitt gained access to the Nigerian dressing room shortly before kick-off. Hewitt was on the top of his game and always got to the heart of his subject matter, saying more in a single picture than can be written in words. His profession had taken him to the working men’s clubs of the north and concentration camps on the continent. He would later take some famous portraits of surrealist painter Salvador Dali. In this particular commission Hewitt focused on the feet of the Nigerians as none of them were taking to the field in regular studded boots. Instead they wore elasticated support straps.

Most of the players in the squad of eighteen preferred to play their football in bare feet, although two or three of the players wore baseball boots. The side included goalkeeper Sam Ibiam, seen here adjusting his ankle straps (4); inside forward Peter ‘Baby’ Anieke and centre half Kannu (9); inside forward Ebenezer refreshing himself under the tap (7); Etim Henshaw, the captain and centre forward reading the paper (12); Lawson treating the soles of his feet with some olive oil (6); Baba Shittu, binding his toe (3); Anieke, receiving a pre- match foot massage (8); Ottun putting on a football sock that has had the foot cut away (5); The team played without boots but wore elastic support straps for their ankles (2, 11, 13).

Off the field the Nigerian squad was put in the very capable hands of Andrew T. Ralston, representative of the Football Association, to ensure all the arrangements ran smoothly. Ralston knew more about the amateur game than most, and in a bygone age as a player and official of the London Caledonians he was a great friend of the Dulwich Hamlet club. His efforts throughout the tour enabled the visitors to train at the Arsenal, Everton and Darlington grounds and attend some top flight First Division matches at Stamford Bridge and White Hart Lane.

The major part of the tour took place in and around London. Leytonstone were next met, and then an Isthmian League XI (at Ilford) and a Corinthian League XI. Despite two defeats and a draw resulting, the team were bonding well and showing superb artistry in all quarters. Left winger Titus Okere, oftentimes noted as the fastest man on the pitch, only met his match when he appeared on the same field as the Hamlet’s Tommy Jover of the Isthmian XI. Lawson and Dankaro, a clever and industrious pair of wing-half-backs were proving to be quite a handful, and supplied their forwards with plenty of opportunities in front of goal. The powerful shooting of six foot three inch Tesilimi Balogun, nicknamed ‘Thunder’, was only thwarted by some excellent goalkeeping.

Thunder wasn’t the only one with a nickname. Keeping goal for the Nigerians was Sam ‘The Black Magnet’ Ibiam, whilst Peter ‘Baby’ Anieke, an attacking midfielder gifted in the art of volleying, appears to have had two! He was also known as ‘Diamond Toe’.

The Nigerian line-up that opposed the Isthmian League Representative side
Ibiam (goal)
Ottun, Onwudiwe (backs)
Lawson, Anyiam, Dankaro (halves)
Otu, Dokubo, Balogun, Henshaw, Okere (forwards)

One feature of the English game that might have come as a bit of a surprise was the length of time in which matches were played out. Back home they were used to thirty five minutes each way, a rule adapted to compensate for the African heat. It was little wonder that the players tended to fade with the autumn light in the final fifteen minutes or so. And these were the days before substitutes were allowed to replace those with tired legs.

Dulwich Hamlet the reigning champions of the Isthmian League, and the finest amateur club in the south of England, were the sixth team to take on the Nigerians. The two sets of players actually met the evening before the game at the Empire Pool Wembley to watch the boxing finals of the Britannia Shield. The Wembley Stadium entrepreneur Sir Arthur Elvin provided ringside seats, and a splendid evening was enjoyed by all.

The combination of fine weather and the lush playing surface of Champion Hill made for ideal conditions for a fast entertaining exhibition. One of the best games witnessed at the ground since before the war.

The game produced just one goal, from the Hamlet’s Pat Connett, making it the lowest scoring match of the tour. Both sides missed decent chances and if Henshaw’s speculative shot from outside the box towards the end had brought the equalizer it would have been thoroughly deserved. Henshaw was well known for his powerful long range efforts and it was long debated back home whether he or ‘Thunder’ Balogun possessed the hardest kick.

The Hamlet’s Leslie Green takes on the Nigerian defence.

The visitors, three in baseball boots and the rest in ankle straps, were delighted at the reception they received from the 18,000 crowd packed inside the ground. It is beyond doubt that many had turned up for the sheer uniqueness of the occasion. It was still very uncommon to find one black man on an English football field, so to have a whole team of black men aroused much curiosity. By the end of ninety minutes, however, as they left the field, this exceptional group of footballers were treated to a very generous standing ovation.

Two versions of the matchday programme were produced for the day. The normal single sheet folded, and a souvenir one for players and officials with the clubs’ colours of pink and blue and green and white ribbons attached.

A veritable banquet was held in honour of the visitors at the Grove Hotel just up the road. Proprietors Mr and Mrs Ainsworth served up some traditional English nosh; a real footballer’s dinner, which was greatly appreciated. One of the guests of honour was Sir Leslie Bowker, an FA Amateur Cup winner with the Hamlet three decades earlier. His speech was followed by one from the Nigerian captain Etim Henshaw. There is no record of what he said, but we can be sure it was spoken with charm, modesty and grace. Reminiscing many years later he said that he represented his country with immeasurable pride. The Dulwich Hamlet Football Club was presented with a small banner, and all the players with a Nigerian pin badge as mementos of the tour.

Les Green and Don Chantry in after match conversation at the Grove Hotel.

My guess is that the badge containing the star on the player’s lapel in the picture is the badge in question. The six pointed star would normally have inside it a Tudor crown, but this may well have been drastically simplified in the manufacture. As would be expected the tourists looked splendid in their green blazers and grey flannel trousers. The breast pockets bore the Nigerian Football Association monogram badge. Beneath it was the inscription ‘United Kingdom 1949’. Forever afterwards this team was known as the UK Tourists.

A copy of the souvenir programme signed by the Nigerian players
and one or two of the Hamlet side.

The lack of boots could not cope on Wealdstone’s wet surface when the representative team of the Athenian League were met a few days later. The eight nil scoreline suggests a totally one sided affair but I doubt if that was a true picture. The FA Amateur Cup holders Bromley were up next and another bumper crowd of 10,000 plus gathered at Hayes Lane to witness a 3-1 win for Nigeria. Daniel Anyiam, Hope Lawson (from a penalty) and ‘Thunder’ Balogun were the scorers. Centre half Anyiam was soon to take over the captaincy of Nigeria for the following decade.

The final game was another curiosity, and the first in which a Nigerian team played under artificial lighting. Hosts South Liverpool FC had just erected permanent floodlights in their Holly Road ground and invited the tourists to officially open them. The Cheshire League club was the poor relation on Merseyside, and the only way they were going to attract fans away from Anfield Road and Goodison Park was to play their home matches on a Friday evening. For this unusual friendly a record 13,000 turned up after work to watch history being made. It was just a shame about the state of the pitch, which began to break up badly as the game progressed. To save the occasion, a ball painted white was used so it could be seen clearer in the mud. The turf once again affected the shoeless who found it difficult to keep their footing. Despite the conditions they led 2-0 at the break but eventually drew 2-2.

It was rather fitting that they completed their tour where they began it a month earlier. The ‘coloured’ population in Britain at the time was approximately a quarter of a million, and about 8,000 black people took residence in the shabby Victorian end of South Liverpool. It would be interesting to find out what percentage of the large crowd on that floodlit night was non white.

They sailed away from what they would have regarded as the ‘mother country’ back to their homes and jobs in Lagos and its surrounds. But before they reached home they beat Sierra Leone in their first fully fledged international in Freetown. The Eagles were flying.

As well as an exceptional footballer, Etim Henshaw was a natural born leader, a great motivator and regarded by all as a gentleman. And he decided to better himself with some further education in the UK. He combined studying Marine Engineering at Cardiff Technical College and playing for the local amateur side the Cardiff Corinthians. Another man to return was Nigeria's golden boy Titus Okere who signed for Swindon Town in 1952.

Tesilimi ‘Thunder’ Balogun the brilliant inside right was one of the most successful Nigerian players of his generation. The Railway club he played for totally dominated in Lagos, winning many trophies. He returned to the UK in the mid fifties and signed for Peterborough United and then Queen’s Park Rangers. Today, in Lagos there is a football stadium named in his honour.

Sixty years after the formation of the national team, in November 2009, the current side, the self proclaimed Super Eagles booked its place in the World Cup Finals, the first to be held on the African continent. And then sadly just a few days later Etim Henshaw, the captain of those pioneers died in Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria at the age of 89.

Etim Henshaw a few days before he died.

Speaking shortly before his death, Henshaw, affectionately known as ‘Skipper’ to his family, said, “Football in the 1940s was a wonderful game. We just played the game because we loved it and we grew up kicking the ball around whenever we could. It was in our blood. It wasn’t our job. Sometimes it seems that today they only care about putting the ball in the net. We played because we loved to play and because it made us feel free. We were amateurs, but were more dedicated than the present day professionals. We played for the love of the game and were a bit more competitive than the present day footballers.”

Related Links 

Movie footage of the tour

1949 UK Tour (Scorers where known)

Wed 31 Aug Marine 2 Nigeria 5
Sat 3 Sept Bishop Auckland 5 Nigeria 2 (Henshaw 2)
Wed 7 Sept Leytonstone 2 Nigeria 1
Sat 10 Sept Isthmian League 5 Nigeria 1 (Balogun)
Wed 14 Sept Corinthian League 2 Nigeria 2
Sat 17 Sept Dulwich Hamlet 1 Nigeria 0
Wed 21 Sept Athenian League 8 Nigeria 0
Sat 24 Sept Bromley 1 Nigeria 3 (Anyiam, Lawson pen, Balogun)
Wed 28 Sept South Liverpool 2 Nigeria 2

Copyright: Jack McInroy © 2010

Saturday, 22 May 2010

The South African Football Team’s 1924 Tour of the British Isles

As England head off to South Africa for the World Cup Finals
I thought it was timely to reproduce this 2001 article
from the Hamlet Historian No.7

South African Gordon Hodgson

You will have to forgive this study. I have strayed from my brief to bring a fuller article about the visit to Britain of the South Africans in 1924. My original intention was to look into the tourists’ game against Dulwich Hamlet, a match that appears to have been completely overlooked in the story of our famous club. The Hamlet lost the match 4-0, but the tour reaped rich rewards for the visitors who sailed home having earned the greatest respect of the teams they played.
Jack McInroy January 2001

During the latter half of the twentieth century South Africa was better known for its apartheid regime and for world opinion against that great evil. In more recent days, following the lonely years in the sporting and political wilderness, the release from prison and subsequent presidency of Nelson Mandela and an end to apartheid, there has been an influx of South Africans in top class football around the globe, especially in England. But there was an earlier day when the South Africans visited this country and were the talk of terraces up and down the land.

At the end of August 1924, just in time for the start of the new football season, a visiting South African association rules team arrived on British shores. Or rather Irish shores. The growing troubles in Ulster had helped to establish the League of Ireland three years earlier (and hence two separate football leagues in the emerald Isle) as well as bring about a new name to world sport – The Lions.

But while dealings in sport and otherwise were growing further apart between Britain and neighbouring Ireland, a good sporting relationship was developing between Britain and South Africa. This was firmly cemented during the summer and autumn of 1924 with a series of sporting events between the two nations. The South African Cricket team was in this country, soon to conclude its tour in the middle of September, and the cumbersomely titled British Isles & Ireland Touring Rugby Team, recently dubbed The Lions by the press, were on tour in South Africa losing and drawing to the Springboks.

In the north of the African continent, particularly among the Arab nations, Association football was the preferred footballing code. We already know the story of Hussein Hegazi, the skilful Egyptian striker, who found his way to Dulwich Hamlet before the First World War. In South Africa, however, ‘Soccer’ took second place to ‘Rugger’, the more physical game, and one that appealed to the pioneers. And it was not through want of trying to introduce the sport. Writing on the rise of Soccer in Africa, Norman S. Barrett says “The first phase of development was in South Africa in the 1880s. In 1893 the FA of South Africa was founded, and tours by the Corinthians around the turn of the century helped create interest in the game.” (Encyclopaedia of Association Football - Purnell 1972.)

As for ‘professional’ football, forget it, sport was not to be regarded as work, and South Africa remained strictly amateur until the late 1950s and the formation of a National League. Unlike the English FA, which quickly took up professionalism soon after the laws of the game were ironed out

The tour kicked off in Dublin on Saturday August 30th 1924 with a match against the Bohemians, champions of the League of Ireland. The South Africans won the match 4-2, and paraded a very strong international line-up, with players chosen from all over the Union –Transvaal, Western Province, Orange Free State and Natal. They were off to a winning start. It was a week before their next fixture in the South London suburb of Wimbledon, so we can assume the team enjoyed a bit of sightseeing.
This is the match ball used between South Africa 4 vs 2 Dublin Bohemians 30 Aug 1924

Wimbledon, then an Isthmian League side, had started the season badly losing their opening two games to Leytonstone and Dulwich Hamlet. On September 6th they became the first English club to entertain the South African amateurs. Surely the foreigners were no match for the English! How wrong they were. Johnny Foreigner had been brushing up on his skills, and Plough Lane witnessed a great display by a skilful side who at the end of the day were never fully extended. Wimbledon had little answer to their prowess and eventually went down 6-0.

The first goal was a bit of an oddity, it arrived via the penalty spot while the goalkeeper was receiving treatment for an injury, an outfield player taking his place. Maybe the Dons’ excuse was that they had trouble adapting to the colour of the ball - a strange feature of the game being that it was played with a white one! This was customary on the sandy pitches of South Africa, but to the average Englishman used to the old brown leather it was quite unusual.

In Stuart, the outside left, the South Africans had a very quick and tricky forward. He often had the Dons defence totally bewildered and scored four of the goals. Green, on the right wing, a much bigger man, was just as fast and difficult to deal with. They were much the better team, and Wimbledon did not really provide a good test. One other player who caught the eye was Gordon Hodgson. Born in Johannesburg of British parents, Hodgson was over six feet tall and weighed thirteen stone. He usually played at either centre forward or inside right positions.

Another interesting fact about the match was that it happened to include the debut performance for the Dons of centre forward WW Dowden, or “Doc” as he later became better known. In the following eleven seasons Doc Dowden amassed a total of 324 goals in 381 appearances for Wimbledon, and after the war became their manager for a further ten years.

On Wednesday September 11th the tourists took on Brentford, the English Third Division South side, that had lost 7-1 at the weekend to Plymouth Argyle. In the opening portion of this game the South Africans appeared to be puzzled by the long high passing of their opponents, who were soon a goal to the good. After that, however, they saw a bit more of the play, adapting their game to counteract the long ball. Athough Green and Stuart frequently beat the home backs, when the ball came inside, the forward trio indulged in too much elaborate passing in front of goal and were quickly closed down. Brentford won the match 3-1, Stuart grabbing the consolation.

Wycombe Wanderers became the second Isthmian scalp three days later, when they were easily beaten at their Loakes Park ground. One of a handful of country clubs in the Isthmian League, Wycombe had conceded 15 goals in the opening three games of the current campaign. That ‘goals against per game’ average continued as the South Africans put another five past them. Following a downpour midway through the second half, the well balanced thoroughly businesslike guests increased their early lead, Green completing his hat-trick. Final score 5-2.

A 4-2 victory over Chelsea the following Wednesday (September 17th) did not really tell the whole story. It could have been a far heavier defeat for the West London club. The first goal for the visitors arrived after one minute, Chesea totally unprepared for the great speed of the South Africans. And from then on the Chelsea goal was always in danger. Green was again among the scorers whilst Hodgson got a brace. Chelsea, recently relegated from the top flight to the 2nd Division, fielded rather a weak side. This didn’t go down very well in South Africa, a good deal of resentment being caused as the authorities thought their team were treated far too lightly.

Five games into the tour and the visitors returned across the Irish Sea to enjoy a short welcome break from football in the beautiful countryside of Ireland. This time a match was arranged with the [Northern] Ireland amateur side in Belfast.

Soccer in Ireland went back to 1878 after a Belfast merchant called John McAlery came across the beautiful game on his honeymoon in Edinburgh. An exhibition match between the Scottish clubs Queens Park and Caledonians took place the following year at the Ulster Cricket ground in Ballymafeigh, after which McAlery founded Ireland's first football club, Cliftonville. Another year and the Irish FA was formed.

In the international match played at Cliftonville’s Solitude ground, the South Africans found themselves a goal down after fifteen minutes, but fought back to win the match 2-1, Murray and Green striking in each half. The following Saturday they slaughtered a Londonderry team 9-1, before it was back on the ferry to England.

On Monday September 29th Northampton Town of Division Three South were disposed of 3-2, Hodgson and Green in the goals. Then the team prepared to take on the mighty Liverpool, one of England’s top sides, which just eighteen months earlier had celebrated a second successive English Championship. But the Reds, like Chelsea before them, also underestimated the chances of the foreigners and to their cost fielded a weakened team. They lost the game by 5 goals to 2 and were totally outplayed in midfield.

Stuart bagged two of the goals, but it was striker Gordon Hodgson who made the biggest impact, scoring a hat-trick in front of the Kop. Rising to the occasion, he so impressed the Liverpool boot room staff that they persuaded their committee to snap up the big man at the end of the South Africans’ tour, and Hodgson entered Liverpool folklore. In seven out of eight consecutive seasons between 1928 and 1935, Hodgson was Liverpool’s leading marksman. With a goals tally of 240 in 378 appearances, the 36 he scored in 1930-31 season remained a club record until Roger Hunt netted 41 in 1961-62.

Reports on the South Africans showed they were proving to be an excellent side in all compartments, “…playing a vigorous but clean game, having splendid control of the ball, passing with good judgement and accuracy, being fast on their feet and sure in their tackling, some of their combination very pretty to watch.” Another commented, “Where they excelled most was in the fine through passing along the ground from the backs to the forwards, the clever way in which the forwards as a movement developed, got themselves unmarked, and the determination with which each man stuck to his place in the formation. There was no roaming and no dribbling across the field. Each player was bent solely on attack.”

So far the South Africans had won all their games against amateur clubs easily, while against weakened professional sides they had more than held their own.

The touring party ventured south into Colwyn Bay on Saturday October 4th, where they were beaten 1-0 by the Welsh amateur team. Wales had to put out a scratch side, and were indebted to Evans the goalie who stood the brunt of some severe pressure. It was the fourth game in eight days for the South Africans, and yet they still continued to play a fast hard game, keeping the ball low, and passing short in the best amateur style. They must have received a very fine welcome in the hillside as they promised to return in six weeks or so to play the local side.

Though not recorded, it is more than likely that the South Africans took in a number of first class matches themselves - as spectators not players - during the tour. One game that would have interested them was on Monday October 6th when England’s finest Amateurs met the Professionals at Highbury. The two teams were competing for the FA Charity Shield. Today we are familiar with this competition being contested by the FA Cup winners and the League champions, but the prize was originally fought between the champions of the First Division and the champions of the Southern League, and later the Second Division winners. But for a number of seasons during the mid 1920s it was the turn of the Amateurs versus the Professionals.

The Professors won the match 3-1 despite their unpaid counterparts playing so well. Dulwich Hamlet’s brilliant inside right, Edgar Kail, scored the Amateurs’ consolation goal. Following a short corner “…the ball came to Kail, who was unmarked. Kail, a famous shot when he has room for three steps, drove the ball into the net with a ‘bullet’ off a half volley.” The Professionals did not always win this fixture; the following two seasons saw victories for the Amateurs, 6-1 in 1925 and 6-3 in 1926 respectively.

Dulwich Hamlet's legendary Edgar Kail

The same eleven who lost to the professionals were wisely chosen by the English selection committee to represent the nation on Saturday October 11th at Southampton. It was the first match to be played between England and South Africa with sides composed exclusively of amateur players. On two occasions either side of the Great War - in 1910 and 1920 - an English side, composed mainly of professionals, visited South Africa, where international matches were played at Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Altogether six games were played, and England won them all. Undoubtedly these games were of great importance to the South Africans, and it was clear to all that their standard of play had risen to a greater height in the last four years.

The record of the side currently touring the British Isles was - played ten matches, eight of which they had won, and only two defeats. They had beaten several big names including Chelsea and Liverpool, and so far had scored 39 goals compared with 16 against.

The England team chosen was: - JF Mitchell (Man City) goal; EY Spencer (Bishop Aukland) and AG Bower (Corinthians), backs; AF Barrett (Leytonstone), CT Ashton (Corinthians)(captain), and FH Ewer (The Casuals), half backs; RG Jenkins (Polytechnic), EIL Kail (Dulwich Hamlet), WV Gibbins (Clapton), F Hartley (Oxford City) and Lieutenant KE Hegan (The Army), forwards.

Three of the players were newcomers to the side; Spencer, Jenkins and Gibbins, lining up in a team with a very strong Isthmian League presence. The South African team was not named until the morning of the match. AJ Riley in goal, CR Thompson and GW Brunton full backs, G Parry, HC Williams and BP Tuohy the half backs, and a forward line composed of F Schwerin, J Green, JR West, G Hodgson and ESG Stuart.

The game, at The Dell, was played fast and hard from start to finish, yet there was no suspicion of foul or rough play at any time in the match. When Lieutenant KE ‘Jackie’ Hegan was injured after 25 minutes, from a charge in the back, it was entirely unintentional. Hegan, the Army’s left winger, was hurt so seriously, that he was little more than an on-looker for the rest of the match. “These South Africans are veritable sons of Zeruiah,” ran one report, referring to a passage in 2 Samuel chapter 3. “But the charge which caused Hegan’s injury was not meant viciously at all.”

The South Africans were not at full strength. Williams, the centre forward had to play at centre half and adapt to the trifle wet but not treacherous conditions. Hartley scored England’s first, a header from Hegan’s cross. Then a brilliant shot by Edgar Kail was just as brilliantly saved by the keeper. And then after 20 minutes some nice combination football on the left side led to the second goal. With the visitor’s defence in a tangle, “… Kail tried a long shot. Hit the ball over hard and it must have curled in the last few feet, for Riley (the keeper), who appeared to have judged the shot exactly, took the ball on his left hand side and allowed it to slide off his left hand into the net. Riley looked a surprised man, for he could almost feel the ball in his hands a fraction of a second before it went into the net.”

England’s third goal came from a long pass by Kail out to the left wing, Hegan crossed to Hartley who fired home his second. Hegan went off soon after, limping back on ten minutes later to finish the match as a passenger. The South Africans pulled one back before the break through West. England started the second half without Hegan, badly bruised and hardly able to walk. A second goal for the tourists – Stuart dodging his marker - meant for the last quarter of the match England were on the defensive. “CT Ashton played magnificent football in the second half. To keep the South Africans from equalising meant extremely good and severe play on the part of the English defence. They were just, if only just, equal to a great occasion.” And so a well earned 3-2 victory for England, despite the injury to Hegan.

South Africans J R Hicklin and A J Riley (Getty Images)

The following Wednesday afternoon the tourists met another of England’s finest sides, Aston Villa. FA Cup finalists the previous season, Aston Villa had enjoyed a top six finish in the championship race for the last three years. Their pedigree, at the time, was one of the best in English football; six times champions, six times runners-up, and six times FA Cup winners. No doubt Villa had their scouts down at the Dell, because the West Midlands club fielded quite a strong side against the visitors. But it wasn’t strong enough as green and gold triumphed over claret and blue to the tune of three goals. This comfortable 3-0 win brought their record of victories to 9 in 12 matches played.

The progress of the South Africans was being very closely followed, and with reports of the games featured in the newspapers, hordes of fans were flocking to see them. The three internationals alone attracting 19,000 spectators. Next up were a representative side from the Palatine League, in the North East. The game was played at Spennymoor on Saturday October 18th, but the representative eleven were well out of their depth, and the South Africans hammered them 8-1. The Times reported, “The South Africans set the pace, attacking strongly.” I’d say!

Moving further north to Glasgow, the South Africans played Queens Park at Hampden Park on Wednesday October 22nd. Scotland’s oldest club, was practically Scotland amateurs in all but name, and probably the reason why Scotland was the only home nation not played on the tour. The South Africans, however, failed to reproduce their best form, and lost the match 3-2. Despite being three nil down they rallied themselves, and with a remarkable spurt at the end scored through Stuart and Williams. Just before time they almost grabbed an equaliser.

One more game in the British Isles before an excursion to Holland and Belgium meant a journey back to London. This time the opponents were to be Dulwich Hamlet on Saturday October 25th.

A huge crowd was expected at Champion Hill to see the South Africans who were yet to be beaten by an amateur club side in England. Dulwich Hamlet was to be represented by its strongest side, and was hoping to succeed where others had failed. Realistically, Dulwich, lying third in the Ieague, had about as much chance as Wimbledon and Wycombe Wanderers, the other Isthmian clubs played. And as expected the South Africans scored just as freely against the Hamlet, winning by 4 goals to nil.

The dull but far from unfavourable weather may have put some people off, but almost 10,000 turned up for the match. What the visitors thought of Dulwich’s notoriously heavy ground we can only guess, but by now they would have been used to these typical British conditions. EE Howell, the South African captain, was pleased with his team’s performances thus far, especially as many members of the squad had never played on turf before! Compared to the hard sandy pitches of their native land, grass made their game slower, and this change was a distinct handicap. The ball bounced differently, and after wet weather the conditions were altogether strange.

Dulwich Hamlet 1925

The Times, Monday October 27th 1924
South Africans’ Easy Victory
“The South Africans gained another victory at Champion Hill on Saturday, when they beat Dulwich Hamlet by four goals to none.
From start to finish the game was exceedingly interesting to watch. The South Africans were the first to attack, and EH Coleman did well to punch away a hard drive from ESG Stuart soon after the kick off. It was soon evident that the visitors were the better side. From the start they set the pace, and gained the advantage a few minutes after the opening of the match. For the greater part of the game they completely outclassed the home team. Although Dulwich Hamlet had out a strong team, they seldom managed to get going. They were, however, very determined, but each fine movement was broken up by the splendid defence put up by the South Africans.

HC Williams was the first to score. After a very neat movement he put in a fast, hard drive, which gave EH Coleman no chance to save. G.Parry at right half-back, played an excellent game for the visitors. He repeatedly broke up the attacks made by the home team, and made several fine openings. ESG Stuart worked very hard at outside left, and it was due to his splendid passes that J Green was able to score a second goal in the first half.

Dulwich Hamlet played very hard but they were no match for such a well balanced side, and were completely outpaced in the second half. AJ Riley, the South Africans goalkeeper, had very little to do; he did, however, make one or two splendid saves, but apart from that the defence was not worried to any extent. G Hodgson and D Murray both scored in the second half of the game. The Dulwich Hamlet forwards occasionally combined well, but such movements as they made were spoiled by lack of shooting power and weakness in front of goal.”

The teams were:
DULWICH HAMLET:- EH Coleman, goal; A Brooker and TR Goodliffe, backs; W Caesar, RH Jonas and VJM Kendrick, half backs; WJ Gatland, E Kail, WJ Davis, S Nicol and L Jones, forwards.
SOUTH AFRICANS:- AJ Riley, goal; G Brunton and CR Thompson, backs; JR Hicklin, EE Howell and G Parry, half backs; ESG Stuart, HC Williams, D Murray, G Hodgson and J Green, forwards.

Dulwich Hamlet continued the season in a rather erratic way. Their league form was so poor that they eventually finished third from bottom, yet two major trophies were won. The Surrey Senior Cup was picked up for the seventh time and the London Senior Cup was won for the first time since Lorraine ‘Pa’ Wilson founded the club in 1893. Sadly, Pa Wilson died at the end of the 1923-24 season, but the guiding principles he laid down were such, that, Dulwich Hamlet grew to be the greatest name in amateur club football in England.

Following the defeat of Dulwich, the tourists left England for the continent. Over in Holland the home nation beat the South Africans by 2 goals to 1 in Amsterdam, whilst the Netherlands Corinthians were beaten 2-0 in Rotterdam.

On their return to England the visitors played The Army on November 8th and lost 3-4 at Aldershot. The match was reported to be a delight to watch from start to finish. Again the South Africans left it till late to play their best football. At one point midway through the second half they were losing by four goals to nil. The visitors were introduced to Prince Henry before the match, which must have added a cup final flavour.

Murray (see pic below) pulled one back after 68 minutes, and then a tactical switch that moved Hodgson out to the right wing saw Green score. Hodgson scored a third after committing a blatant handball and then continuing play, there being no whistle blown. The Army team as a man had stopped expecting a free kick. “It was now just possible” said the Times correspondent, “that the South Africans would pull a wonderful match out of the fire. The Army however, had the sense to drive the ball out to the left wing, and all the defence had to fall back to mark Lieutenant Hegan. The Army really deserved to win, but what the South Africans might do at any moment in the last ten minutes was frightening.”

South African D. Murray (Getty Images)

Next up were the Isthmian League XI, and a 2.45pm kick-off on a Thursday afternoon at Ilford. Edgar Kail was the only Dulwich player selected in what were two under-strength sides. Although five of the South Africans were resting they still managed a 4-2 victory. Green, Howell and Murray (2) the scorers, whilst the ever reliable Kail scored both of the Isthmian goals. The previous day he had been chosen once more to represent England in a fortnight’s time, for a second match against the touring side. The Hamlet’s Bill Caesar was also picked as one of two reserves.

Although the South Africans were playing an awful lot of matches they were yet to show signs of staleness. In the last two games (v The Army and the Isthmian League) they never played stronger than in the last twenty minutes of the game. What was most impressive was their unbeaten record against the top English amateur club sides. But they were yet to play the Corinthians.

Founded in 1882, the Corinthians were made up of the best players in the public schools and universities. The original idea four decades previously was to help quash the domination of the Scots, and on a couple of occasions they even supplied the entire England team. Since then they had become a byword for sportsmanship, and had done more for the spread of association football around the world than probably any other British club. Indeed, they had only recently returned from a lengthy summer tour of their own to Canada, where they played twenty two matches.

The Corinthians

In true Corinthian spirit a cup-tie side was put out in honour of the visitors. Other, so called professional clubs may have shown disrespect to their visitors, but not the Corinthians. They knew the South Africans were as quick as lightning on the ball, ready to seize any opportunity, and they had to stop them in as fair a manner as they could. The Corinthian side was - Howard Baker, Bower, Morrison, Knight, Ashton, Ewer, Taylor, Hartley, Creek, Doggart and Hegan. The South Africans – Riley, Shwerin, Brunton, Parry, Skene, Tuohy, Green, Maton, Murray, Hodgson and Stuart.

The match was played at Crystal Palace on Saturday November 15th. The old Cup Final ground was the Corinthian Club’s headquarters, which they shared with their good friends The Casuals. The home side beat the South Africans 4-1 with goals from Creek, Taylor, Hartley and Doggart. But what turned out to be the tourists’ heaviest defeat, was also regarded by some as one of the best games witnessed at Crystal Palace in some years. For Hegan it was his second match against the South Africans in a week, for Hartley, his second in three days.

Benjamin Howard Baker put on a display of truly wonderful goalkeeping, including one miraculous save from Gordon Hodgson. CT Ashton, one of the finest centre backs in the country, took full control of the midfield and scarcely put a foot wrong. Doggart and Hegan showed perfect understanding on the left flank, and Norman Creek the opportunist centre forward, made an ‘old fashioned dribble’ that deceived four or five players before Corinth’s third goal. For the last ten minutes of the game the Corinthians played with a man short due to an injury to Hartley. David Murray picked up a consolation goal for his team.

A fixture in Manchester against the City side, was due to be played on Thursday November 20th, but was called off owing to a dense fog that fell over Maine Road. Then it was on to the main road in the charabanc (or the railway train) to Colwyn Bay in North Wales where the South Africans beat the then Welsh National League side 4-2 on Saturday 22nd November. The party then returned from whence they came for the rearranged match with Manchester City on the Monday afternoon, which the First Division side won 3-1.

Two days later, on Wednesday November 26th, the South African touring side played their second match against England, this time at White Hart Lane. Each side made three changes from the earlier match, but the same 3-2 scoreline was recorded, again in England’s favour. The conditions were not best for international football, it was raining throughout the encounter. The home nation included Dulwich Hamlet pair, Edgar Kail and Bill Caesar. Kail, along with Hartley and Hegan, was competing in his fourth match against the wearers of the gold and green.

The 32 year old Chelsea and Corinthian amateur Benjamin Howard Baker kept goal. Howard Baker, an all round athlete with a 14 stone frame and 6 feet 2 ½ inches in height, had already won a full England cap whilst an amateur player with Everton. He was not unique in this side. This team of amateurs could later boast 20 full caps to its name. Others who represented (or later represented) England at the highest level included Fred Ewer of the Casuals with two full caps in 1924. Ewer, a left half with good positional sense, is described as a strong, courageous player who rallied those about him; England’s tall left back Alfred ‘Bache’ Bower, won five full caps; F. Hartley won a full cap in France eighteen months earlier; Edgar Kail won three full caps on a short continental tour in 1929; another pre-war great, centre half Claude Ashton, also went on to represent the full England international team. For this game however, due to knee trouble, he was replaced by Dulwich Hamlet’s Bill Caesar. Sadly Ashton was tragically killed on active service during World War II.

Murray scored both South African goals before the break, they led 2-1 at half time. England were a bit too casual in the first half and nearly paid the penalty. After the interval, however, the players roused themselves and started to use their weight, and put a bit more energy into their play. Hartley scored his second to equalise as England began to get the upper hand. Excitement was kept up until the very end, when Ewer’s low hard drive skidded off the greasy surface and entered the corner of the net. It was getting dark when the whistle blew for time.

The South Africans were set to conclude their very successful tour with a match versus Norfolk County at Kings Lynn on Saturday November 29th November. But as the touring party were due to leave England for South Africa the following Friday a further match at Goodison Park was hastily arranged for Wednesday. Everton had been in the top flight of English football since 1889. Suddenly the Norfolk game didn’t seem as important, and the tourists who probably rested one or two players, lost 3-1.

The final match up in Liverpool, saw yet another top club put out its reserve side, much to the chagrin of the visitors. The South Africans were victorious by three goals to two over Everton who couldn’t win for toffee!

Since leaving their home at the southern tip of the African continent, the team had played at least twenty five matches. [They definitely played one other match winning 2-1, possibly in Belgium.] They had won 15 and lost 10, scoring 80 goals and conceding 47. Before departing from England, the team manager JR Wheeler, paid a warm tribute to the reception his team had been given by English football officials and supporters. They had come hoping, confidently to hold their own with the amateurs, and the results were more than satisfactory. Their travels had taken them to the four quarters of the British Isles, where they had seen playing surfaces deteriorate as the weeks progressed - some into quagmires typical of the northern hemisphere - yet they adapted to these strange conditions and often came out on top.

The South Africans took the train from London, Waterloo to Southampton on Friday 5th December 1924. From there they boarded the Union Castle liner, Kenilworth Castle, and sailed for home.

However, one member of the party was so taken with the football here, that he decided to stay behind and join the professional ranks. And English football was the better for his decision. It was rather fitting that the concluding match of the tour was on Merseyside, because Liverpool FC, under the noses of their rivals, took the initiative and signed up striker Gordon Hodgson.

Hodgson became a star at Anfield for a number of years, and after a short stay at Aston Villa in 1936, he moved on to Leeds United where he netted 25 goals in 36 games. Following his record 36 goals for Liverpool in the 1930-31 season he was called up for England duty! Playing in all three home internationals and scoring one goal, he helped England to the championship that year. He was also an all-round cricketer with Lancashire, to boot.

But how many players have had a biscuit named after them? At Anfield, on matchdays there was a character who wandered round selling home-made ginger nuts five for a penny. “Hodgson’s Choice!” he would call. “Hodgson’s Choice!” The same shrewd character, mind you would be up at Goodison the following week shouting, “Dixie’s Choice! Dixie’s Choice!”
Goalkeepers: AJ Riley (Transvaal), A Finlayson (Port Elizabeth).
Full-backs: CR Thompson (Transvaal), GW Brunton (Natal), A Berry (East London),
F Schwerin (Cape Town).
Half-backs: EE Howell (Orange Free State) captain, BP Tuohy (Natal),
RA Skene (Natal), G Parry (Cape Town), JR Hicklin (Transvaal).
Forwards: J Green (Transvaal), P Jacobi (East London), JR West (Cape Town),
A Maton (Natal), D Murray (Cape Town), G Hodgson (Transvaal), NS Walker (Transvaal),
HC Williams (Cape Town) vice-captain, ESG Stuart (Cape Town).

Aug. 30 Bohemians W 4-2
Sept. 6 Wimbledon W 6-0
Sept. 10 Brentford L 1-3
The full South Africa squad:
Goalkeepers: AJ Riley (Transvaal), A Finlayson (Port Elizabeth).
Full-backs: CR Thompson (Transvaal), GW Brunton (Natal), A Berry (East London), F Schwerin (Cape Town).
Half-backs: EE Howell (Orange Free State) captain, BP Tuohy (Natal), RA Skene (Natal), G Parry (Cape Town), JR Hicklin (Transvaal).
Forwards: J Green (Transvaal), P Jacobi (East London), JR West (Cape Town), A Maton (Natal), D Murray (Cape Town), G Hodgson (Transvaal), NS Walker (Transvaal), HC Williams (Cape Town) vice-captain, ESG Stuart (Cape Town).

Aug. 30 Bohemians W 4-2
Sept. 6 Wimbledon W 6-0
Sept. 10 Brentford L 1-3
Sept. 13 Wycombe Wanderers W 5-2
Sept. 17 Chelsea W 4-2
Sept. 24 [Northern] Ireland W 2-1
Sept. 27 Londonderry W 9-1
Sept. 29 Northampton Town W 3-2
Oct. 1 Liverpool W 5-2
Oct. 4 Wales L 0-1
Oct. 11 England L 2-3
Oct. 15 Aston Villa W 3-0
Oct. 18 Palatine League W 8-1
Oct. 22 Queen’s Park L 2-3
Oct. 25 Dulwich Hamlet W 4-0
Nov. 1 Holland L 1-2
Nov. 5 Netherlands Corinthians W 2-0
Nov. 8 The Army L 3-4
Nov. 13 Isthmian League W 4-2
Nov. 15 Corinthians L 1-4
Nov. 22 Colwyn Bay W 4-2
Nov. 24 Manchester City L 1-3
Nov. 26 England L 2-3
Nov. 29 Norfolk L 1-3
Dec. 3 Everton W 3-2

Team Photographs:
The Corinthians 1924
(Standing left to right) Hilleary, Jenkins, Ewer, Stephenson, Hartley, Capel-Slaughter.
(Seated) Doggart, Bower, Morrison, Howard Baker, Ashton.
Dulwich Hamlet 1925 with the London Cup, the Surrey Cup and the Kings College Hospital Cup.
(Back row left to right) L Morrish, E Kail, W Price, E Gibbs.
(Middle) G Russ, GF Goodliffe, EH Coleman, W Davis, R Luetchford, J Tait (trainer).
(Seated) G Hobson, A Brooker, R Jonas, T Goodliffe, S Nicol.

Sources: The Times newspaper (London) 1924; South London Press 1924; Charles Buchan’s Soccer Gift Book 1967-68, 1969-70; Wimbledon FC Centenary 1889-1989 by Michael Lidbury; Dozens of websites including that of the Association of Football Statisticians (which I discovered after trawling through countless newspaper columns gathering information), and one where I found a 1924 postcard of the Kenilworth Castle ocean liner!

Original article from HH7. Copyright: Jack McInroy ©