Football hustlers: British players in America’s first pro soccer league

It was a Victorian football sensation. Five British players – four from Manchester City plus a former teammate now at Sheffield United – were missing, presumed poached by a mysterious foreign agent. “A sudden disappearance!” exclaimed one newspaper. “A Sheffielder taken!” was the headline in another. This 1894 mystery was solved after the players were […]

Islington Corinthians: football’s first world tour

Islington Corinthians may not be a famous name, but these footballing Phileas Foggs left their mark on history with an extraordinary 1930s round-the-world jaunt involving leopards, cocaine, cobras, crocodiles, and a bullet-strewn carry-on up the Khyber. The Islington Corinthians were travelling through the Khyber Pass when their bus slammed to a halt and their guide […]

Arthur Pember: the mermaid hunter who invented association football

The true story of the investigative journalist and mermaid hunter who helped create the rules of soccer. Arthur Pember titillated Victorian New York with his muckraking journalism, but before that he was the first president of the Football Association who set out the Laws of the Game. Read at Howler.

Still with us: Gainsborough Trinity

Gainsborough Trinity have always overachieved, despite the best efforts of their local rivals. With a population of around 20,800, lower than the likes of Glossop, Accrington and Fleetwood, Gainsborough is one of the smallest towns to have had a Football League club. Read the full story in issue 351 of When Saturday Comes.

Elephant football: a Victorian football sensation

In the summer of 1899, football’s most famous goalkeeper took on a Sanger’s Circus elephant in what was billed as ‘The Greatest Novelty in the World’ – an elephant-versus-man penalty shoot-out. This is the story of one of the great football sensations of the Victorian era. Published in issue 349 of When Saturday Comes.

Nick Ross and Harry Chapman: football originals

Two pieces in this issue, on football’s original hard man and a football manager’s less-famous brother. Nick Ross was the “demon back” who captained Preston North End and Everton in the late-1890s. And Harry Chapman was the brother of legendary Arsenal manager Herbert. Coincidentally, both Nick Ross and Harry Chapman met a similarly tragic fate. […]