The latest issue of When Saturday Comes includes my review of the book The Evergreen in Red and White by Steven Kay, a fictional account of the life of the Victorian footballer Rab Howell of Sheffield United.
“Rabbi Howell was the first footballer of Romany origin to play for England. A slight but skilful half-back, he was a star of the excellent Sheffield United team of the 1890s, alongside the better-remembered likes of William “Fatty” Foulke and Ernest “Nudger” Needham. “A Gipsy by birth, [Howell] perhaps owes some of his inexhaustible vitality to his lucky parentage,” wrote Needham of his team-mate. That “inexhaustible vitality” won Howell the nickname “The Evergreen”. But in 1898, despite his talents, and with United on the verge of securing their first League championship, Howell was hurriedly sold to Liverpool for reasons that remain unclear.”