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.

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).

Results:

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).

Results
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 ©

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