Category: football

Shrovetide commemorations of the origins of football and rugby

By , 4th March 2011 17:21

The International Football Association Board, the guardian of the laws of association football, meets in the spring of each year. The 2011 meeting on 5 March (pdf of agenda) takes place at Celtic Manor – which gained global prominence as a sporting landmark in October 2010. Founded in 1886 when representatives of the football associations in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland met to harmonise the sport’s laws across the ‘Home Nations’, the Board was joined by FIFA in 1913. Football’s world governing body now contributes four members to sit alongside the four founding members. (The Irish FA was founded in Belfast in 1880 and governed the game across the whole of Ireland until clubs in the south formed the Football Association of the Irish Free State, later the FAI, on 1 June 1921.)

It’s fitting that IFAB meets in the spring as it falls within the season of shrovetide when ancient folk football matches that are still played in various parts of England and Scotland.  These games, which resisted the prohibitions of numerous monarchs down the centuaries for fear of their impact on archery practice, the defense of the realm and general good order, provide a glimpse of the ancestors of the modern sports of both football and rugby.

Ashbourne, Derbyshire hosts the oldest and probably best known Shrovetide game.  Asbourne Royal Shrovetide Football is played on both Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. The earliest reference to the game is a poem written in 1683: its ‘Royal’ title dates from a visit by the Prince of Wales – later Edward VII – in 1928.

A team ‘Up’ards’ born in the north side of the Henmore River take on the ‘Down’ards’ born on the south side.  The pitch stretches between two goals  situated 3 miles apart – one at Sturston, and the other at Clifton. Originally, the goals were the water wheels of two mills: today, they are purpose built plinths.

Kick-off or “turning up” of the specially made and painted ball takes place at 2pm from a plinth in the town centre.  A goal is scored by tapping the ball three times against a marker board attached to one of the goal plinths.  The game continues until 10 pm. If a goal is scored before 6 pm, then a new ball is “turned up” and a new game starts. When a goal is scored after 6 pm, the game ends for that day.


More video can be found on this Asbourne Royal Shrovetide Football site.

The Shrovetide football match in the Northumberland town of Alnwick is called “Scoring the Hales” which is now played in the Pasture, a meadow across the river from Alnwick Castle. Before 1825, the game was played in the town’s streets. Contested between the parishes of St Michael & St Paul, teams typically have around 150 players each. Victory goes to the team that scores two goals, or “Hales” first.

In Atherstone, in Warwickshire, the Shrovetide match is played along Watling Street, the Roman road linking London with Chester and the northwest. Thought to date back 800 years, the game is played between 3pm and 5pm. The winner is the person in possession of the ball at 5pm: the game doesn’t depend on teams or goals.

The Ball Game in Sedgefield, County Durham, is started at 1pm by passing the ball three times through the ‘bull ring’ in the middle of the village. It is then kicked around the village for the next three hours. There are no teams: the first person to get the ball to any of the pubs receives a free drink. After 4pm the obective is to ‘ally’ the ball into the local stream, retrieve it and then return it t the centre of the village, passing it through the bull ring three times.

Roxburghshire hosts a number of folk football matches around Shrovetide: Hobkirk’s is on the Monday after Shrove Tuesday with Jedburgh and Ancrum & Denholm staging matches during February.

Folk football is not confined to Shrovetide. Workington in Cumberland is host to a series of three matches around Easter

 

The Hare Pie Scramble and Bottle Kicking at in Leicestershire shares many of the characteristics of other folk football games but makes use of a cask of beer rather than a ball. The contest between the villages of Hallaton and Medbourne takes place on Easter Monday.

In Berwickshire, the married men of Duns take on the batchelors during the Reivers Week summer festival and even further north, in Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands the Ba’ Game is played on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, between more “Uppies” and “Doonies” defined by their places of birth. For Uppies the objective is to touch the ba’ against the wall in the south end of the town, while the Doonies aim is to propel it into the waters of Kirwall Bay. Games start at 1pm and can last for up to eight hours.

 

Charles W Alcock: the Mackem who created the FA Cup & international football

By , 25th June 2010 17:03
Birthplace of Charles W Alcock, creator of the FA Cup and instigator of international football

Charles W Alcock was born at 10 Norfolk Street, Sunderland on 2 December 1842. As of the date of this photo, June 2010, the property in the Sunniside area of Sunderland is mid-refurbishment. Photo courtesy of Ben Hall, www.sunnisidepartnership.co.uk

Update: 19 November 2010 – Good to hear that Alcock’s birthplace has now been commemorated with a Blue Plaque.  The Sunderland Echo previewed its unveiling in August 2010 and the FA’s World Cup bid team were quick off the mark to remind everyone of Alcock’s role as inventor of international football: FIFA’s decision on which country should host the 2018 tournament was due to be taken on 2 December 2010. George Caulkin of The Times has kindly posted a photo here.

Described by the official historian of the Football Association as ‘the forgotten father of English sport’, Charles William Alcock was arguably the central pillar of London’s sporting establishment in the fourth quarter of the 19th Century.  Surprisingly, this pioneering sports administrator and journalist qualifies as a Mackem having been born at 10 Norfolk Street, Sunderland, on 2 December 1842.  The son of a ship owner, the Alcock family had moved a few streets to 17 John Street by the time of the 1851 census.

In 1855, Charles followed his elder brother John to Harrow School where both developed a passion for football. On leaving school, together they formed the Forest Club in Epping in 1859.

By 1861, the entire Alcock family had moved south, taking up residence in Essex.  Now described in the census as shipbrokers, John and Charles, were near neighbours of the Kings Head Inn in Chingford and lived in a house called ‘Sunnyside’.  Whether the house name was chosen as a reminder of the family’s roots in Sunderland’s Sunniside district, or a was remarkable coincidence is, for the moment, unknown.

1863 was an eventful year for the two brothers.  John attended the inaugural meeting of the Football Association at the Freemasons Tavern in Great Queen Street, London, while Charles took the lead in founding the Wanderers which made its home at the Oval and supplanted Forest as the leading Old Harrovian football club.

Charles was elected to the FA committee in 1866, aged 23.  He became secretary in 1870 – a position he held for twenty-five years.  Almost immediately, he was involved in organizing the first unofficial international football match between England and a ‘Scotland’ team made up largely of ex-public school Scots living in London.  The match, which ended 1-1, was played at the Oval on 5 March 1870.

By 1871, now married with a son and two daughters and declaring himself to be a journalist in the census, Charles had made his home in Rosendale Road, Norwood in a house possibly called ‘Grassendale’.

For the 1871-72 season, and drawing in part on his experience of the ‘Cock House’ inter-house knock-out competition at Harrow, he devised the FA Cup as a competition open to all football clubs. Not content with simply organising the tournament, he also captained the Wanderers team that won the inaugural final – also played at the Oval – on 16 March 1872.  (Wanderers went on to win the Cup five times between 1872 and 1878.)

At the same time that he was pioneering the FA Cup and international football, Alcock also became the first paid secretary of Surrey County Cricket Club. Appointed in 1872, he held this post for the rest of his life.

Known to have played rugby for Blackheath – then one of the leading proponents of alternative form of football – with his influence at Surrey, he may well have been involved in the staging of the second rugby international in history: England’s first ever home match was played at the Oval on 5 February 1872.

Back on the football field, Alcock refereed the first official football international – a nil-nil draw between Scotland and England played on 30 November 1872 at the West of Scotland Cricket Club near Glasgow.  He also fostered relations with the longer-established Sheffield Football Association, paving the way for the eventual adoption of a common rulebook.

As well as becoming the first president of the Referees Association, Alcock also managed to find the time to serve as president of the Surrey FA, vice-president of the London FA, chairman of the Richmond Athletic Association and vice-president of Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club.

At Surrey, Alcock assumed responsibility for arranging the first cricket test in England: the England verses Australia match played at the Oval in 1880.  Two years later, the Australian demolition of England that gave birth to the Ashes legend also took place on Alcock’s watch.

Alcock was living at 36 Somerleyton Road, Brixton when, in 1881, he was granted a testimonial by the FA Committee ‘in consideration of his having been the founder of the Association game’.

As football grew in popularity, tensions arose between the ex-public school amateurs who dominated the Football Association and clubs mainly from the Midlands and the North who were calling for a more professional approach to the organisation of the game.  With his cricketing experience of managing relations between ‘gentlemen’ and ‘players’, Alcock helped to prevent football splitting in the way rugby eventually divided into union and league.  However, the 2005 Burns report on the governance of the FA confirms that some of these tensions continue to exist to this day.

By 1891, Alcock, his wife, four daughters and three domestic servants had moved to Heathlands in Kew Road, Richmond. (His son had died as an infant.)

Thanks to Alcock, most of the big FA fixtures came to the Oval up to 1895.  Improvements funded by these revenues helped secure the ground’s status as a test venue.  Surrey were also successful on the cricket field under Alcock’s stewardship, winning eight county championships between 1887 and 1895.

In addition to his multiple roles in sports administration, he was also a prolific and ground-breaking sports journalist and publisher. In his twenties, he wrote for The Field and The Sportsman before founding specialist magazines such as the Football Annual, Football magazine and Cricket. Alcock’s books included Football: the Association Game (1890) and Surrey Cricket: its History and Associations (1902).

Alcock died on 26 February 1907 at his home at 7 Arundel Road, Brighton.  He is buried alongside his son in Norwood Cemetery, a short distance from the Rosendale Road home he occupied in the early 1870s.

FC United to put down roots in Newton Heath

By , 26th April 2010 18:45

Great article from David Conn of the Guardian on FC United’s plans to return to the birthplace of Manchester United in the Newton Heath area of east Manchester where, in 1878, the Newton Heath Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Football Club was founded. The Club is reported to have reached agreement with Manchester City Council to develop a new ground at the Ten Acres Sports Complex – marked by the yellow (gold!) pin in the map below.

FC United is, of course, the club established in 2005 by supporters of Manchester United in protest at the debt placed on the Old Trafford club as a result of its acquisition by the Glazers.

According to unitedonline, the original Newton Heath initially played at North Road on a rough pitch adjacent to the railway compapny’s wagon works.  North Road has, more recently, been renamed Northampton Road.

Newton Heath joined the Football League in 1892 relocated to Bank Street in Clayton – a little to the south of Newton Heath – in 1893.

In 1902 with rising debts and creditors circling, Newton Heath collapsed before reforming as Manchester United.  As previously reported on sportinglandmarks, part of the reason the club re-emerged as “United” was that the city’s oldest rugby club had seized the name Manchester Football Club as early as 1860 when rugby and soccer had yet to evolve as distinct sports.

Manchester United’s last match at Bank Street before moving to Old Trafford was against Tottenham Hotspur in January 1910.  The site of the Bank Street stadium retains a sporting connection: it is now the car park for the Manchester Velodrome.

Manchester City’s history records that the club originated in 1880 at St Marks Church which used to stand on Clowes Street, West  Gorton.  (Billy Meredith (1874-1958) who played for both Manchester City and Manchester United was married in St Mark’s and lived in Clowes Street for a while. )

The church club became Ardwick AFC in  1887 when it moved to Hyde Road.  The club reformed as Manchester City in 1894.  When Hyde Road was destroyed by fire in 1923, City moved to Maine Road where it remained for 80 years until its move to the City of Manchester Stadium in 2003.  

According to The Pride of Manchester: The History of the Manchester Derby by Steve Crawley and Gary James, the first recorded match between the teams that would become Manchester City and Manchester United took place when Newton Heath played West Gorton at North Road on 12 November 1881.

David Conn’s article also touches on how supporters trusts are attempting to re-establish the links between clubs, their supporters and communities – links that were such a central part of the origins of so many British football clubs.

View FC United to put down roots in Newton Heath in a larger map
Key:
Yellow: Proposed site for new FC United Ground
Green: Grounds of the original Newton Heath Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway FC
Red:     Manchester United’s Old Trafford
Blue:    Grounds of Manchester City and its predecessor Ardwick AFC

The Six Nations and the origins international rugby

By , 11th March 2010 23:33

Each spring, Murrayfield, Twickenham, the Aviva Stadium on Dublin’s Lansdowne Road and the Millennium Stadium become places of pilgrimage for rugby enthusiasts.  By drawing together the first four rugby playing countries, the Six Nations maintains a tangible and continuing link to the origins of the international game.

Today’s landmark venues are among 35 grounds in the British Isles that have hosted matches as the competition has evolved from ad-hoc fixtures in the 1870s to become the Home International Championship – considered to have started in 1883.  France officially joined the championship in 1910 before Five Nations became Six at the start of the third millennium.

A common characteristic of many of the earliest international rugby venues was that they were established cricket grounds. On closer examination, this is not so surprising.  By the second half of the 18th century, cricket was widely played and many of the earliest rugby clubs were set-up by cricketers looking to keep themselves occupied during the winter months.

England have played4/5/6 Nations matches at some 15 grounds; Ireland 9, Wales 7 and Scotland 6.

View The Six Nations and the origins international rugby in a larger map

(As this post spans 140 years of international rugby history, and approaching 700 matches, its quite long! It’s divided into sections for Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales, so if you’re interested in a particular country, scroll down.)

Scotland

Just as they were to invent Rugby 7s in 1883, the Scots can arguably take credit for inventing international rugby: it was Scotland who issued the invitation for an England team to play in the world’s first rugby international.   The match  was staged on the cricket pitch of the Edinburgh Academy at Raeburn Place on 27 March 1871.  Angus Buchanan claimed the distinction of becoming the first international try scorer in helping Scotland to victory by a goal and a try to a try.

Scotland’s second home international, again against England on 3 March 1873, was played at the home of the West of Scotland Cricket Club at Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow.  The match ended in a scoreless draw.

Scotland then reverted to Raeburn Place until growing friction with their Edinburgh Academy hosts prompted a search for a new ground.  The last match at the birthplace of international rugby was a 6-0 victory over Ireland on 2 March 1895.

On 14 March 1896, Scotland defeated England 11-0 at Hampden Park, Glasgow.  The second of three grounds to bear the name, it became Cathkin Park when its owners, Queen’s Park FC, moved to the current Hampden Park in 1903.  (The Scottish rugby team played South Africa at the new Hampden Park in 1908.)

In 1897, the Scottish Football Union acquired land at Inverleith, Edinburgh to make Scotland the first national rugby team to own its own ground. While Inverleith was being developed, Scotland played two matches at Powderhall Stadium in Edinburgh, an established “pedestrianism” venue.  An 8-3 victory over Ireland on 20 February 1897 was followed by a 3-3 draw with England on 12 March 1898.  (Between 1977 and its closure and demolition 1995, Powderhall was home to the Edinburgh Monarchs speedway team.)

Ireland became the first visitors to the world’s first purpose-built international rugby stadium at Inverleith on 18 February 1899, defeating Scotland by 3-9.  After the First World War, limited space and run-down facilities at Inverleith prompted the SFU to search for a new home . Murray’s Field was eventually purchased from the Edinburgh Polo Club at the end of 1922.  The last match at Inverleith was played on Burns Day – 25 January – 1925 and ended in a 25-4 victory over France.  Today, Stewart’s Melville College, and associated clubs, continue to play rugby at Inverleith.

The first match at Murrayfield on on 21 March 1925 saw the lead change several times before Scotland eventually ran-out 14-11 winners over England to secure their first Grand Slam.

England

Although Twickenham has been England’s primary home for a century, of the nations who strive for the Triple Crown, England has had the most “home” grounds.

An English cricket ground hosted the world’s second rugby international.  The return fixture against Scotland on 5 February 1872 was played at the Kennington Oval and ended in a victory for England by a goal, a drop goal and 2 tries to a drop goal.  The first FA Cup final was staged at the same venue a month later.

The Oval hosted a total of seven rugby internationals, including Ireland’s debut on 15 February 1875 – won by England by 1 goal, 1 drop goal, and a try to nil – and the first international rugby match between teams of 15 players – again from England and Ireland – on 5 February 1877.  Until then rugby had been 20-a-side.

The ground of Manchester FC, one of the oldest still surviving rugby clubs, in Whalley Range was the venue for England’s home victory against Scotland by 2 goals and 3 tries to 1 goal on 28 February 1880.  Walley Range hosted a total of seven England matches up to 1892.  According to the 1889 Ordnance Survey Map for Moss Side, the site is now occupied by present day King’s Road, Powell Street and Alphonsus Street off the Upper Chorlton Road.

Wales’ international debut was on Mr Richardson’s field, Blackheath on 19 February 1881.  It was a baptism by fire for the Welsh as England won by 7 goals, 1 drop goal and 6 tries to nil!  Blackheath holds a unique position in the history of rugby.  A founder member of the Football Association, Blackheath withdrew in protest at the FA’s preference for the Cambridge rules  of football, which prohibited carrying the ball, and its less tolerant attitude towards hacking.  Blackheath then went on to become a founder member of the RFU.

Prior to the 1902 schism that ultimately led to the creation of Rugby League, Yorkshire was a rugby stronghold.  England played a number of matches in the county including three in Leeds on three different grounds.   The first was on 5 January 1884 when Wales were beaten by a goal and 2 tries to 1 goal at Cardigan Fields.  The pitches are now occupied by the Leeds Rugby Academy under the management of the Leeds Rugby Foundation.

In the same 1884 season, Scotland were entertained at the Rectory Field, Blackheath on 1 March.  A successful conversion separated the teams and gave victory to England by a goal to a try.

Between 1888 and 1889, the Home International Championship was reduced to a 3 Nation tournament after England declined to join the International Rugby Board which had been established to overcome differences in interpretation of the laws of the game.  When England returned to the fold in 1890, they chose Yorkshire for their first match playing Wales at the original Crown Flatt ground, on Leeds Road, Earlesheaton in Dewsbury.  The match was notable as Wales’ first victory against England – by a single point scored by a Dewsbury player William “Buller” Staden – to nil.  Crown Flatt was replaced by housing after it was destroyed by arson in 1988. (Dewsbury Rams rugby league team play at the Tetley Stadium in Owl Lane which was initially referred to as the ‘new’ Crown Flatt Stadium when it was built in the early 1990s.)

Richmond Athletic Ground hosted England’s 3-9 defeat by Scotland on 7 March 1891.  The home of both Richmond FC and London Scottish, the Athletics Ground was also the venue for France’s first match in the British Isles – a 41-13 defeat at the hands of England on 5 January 1907.

England’s second match in Leeds, an 0-8 defeat by Scotland on 4 March 1893, was played at Headingley. Acquired by the Leeds Cricket, Football and Athletic Co from the Cardigan Estate in January 1889, Headingley was conceived as a multi-sport venue incorporating cricket and rugby pitches along with tennis courts, a bowling green, and a track for cycling and athletics around the cricket pitch.  Today, the ground is used by both codes of rugby: Leeds Rhinos for league and Leeds Carnegie for union. The Headingley test cricket ground is adjacent to the rugby ground.

The first publicly funded park in Britain, Birkenhead Park on the Wirral, hosted England’s 24-3 victory over Wales on 6 January 1894.

Ireland were the visitors for England’s third match in Leeds on 1 February 1896. Played at Meanwood Road, the Irish won 4-10.

The following year, Scotland suffered a second defeat in Manchester, by 12-3. The match, on 13 February 1897, was played in Fallowfield. The Fallowfield Stadium, which also incorporated an athletics track and velodrome, was also notable for having hosted the 1893 FA Cup Final, the first to be played outside London.  (Wolverhampton Wanderers beat Everton 1-0).  The stadium was acquired by Manchester University, demolished in 1994 and redeveloped as the Richmond Park hall of residence.

Gloucester’s Kingsholm hosted a Welsh victory over England by 3-13 on 6 January 1900.

The first of five internationals at Welford Road, Leicester, was England’s 6-3 victory over Ireland on 8 February 1902.  The 23-5 victory over Ireland on 10 February 1923 was the last England home fixture in the 4/5/6 Nations not to be played at Twickenham.

Wales’ made the short trip across the Severn Estuary to defeat England 18-28 at Ashton Gate, Bristol on 18 January 1908 in a match shrouded in thick fog.  The match was the last of five caps for James Peters, the first black player to represent England.  Although he was then playing for Plymouth, Peters’ rugby career had started at Bristol FC.

Twickenham, affectionately known as Billy Williams Cabbage Patch after an RFU committee member who was instrumental in the purchase of the former market garden, hosted its first international when Wales visited on 15 January 1910.  England won 11-6.

Outside the 4/5/6 Nations, England have also played home matches at Crystal Palace (against New Zealand in 1905 and South Africa in 1906), Wembley (Canada, 1992), Old Trafford Manchester (New Zealand, 1997), and the McAlpine Stadium, Huddersfield, now known as the Galpharm Stadium (World Cup Qualifiers against the Netherlands, 1998 and Italy 1998.)

Ireland

Having played their first international away to England at the Oval, Ireland’s first home international was a defeat by England by a goal and a try to nil.  Ireland continued the tradition established by both Scotland and England in staging the match at the Leinster Cricket Ground, Rathmines, Dublin, on 13 December 1875

Ireland’s next home game, against Scotland on 19th February 1877, was the first of seven matches to be staged at the North of Ireland Football Club off the Ormeau Road in South Belfast.  The Scots ran away victors by 4 goals, 2 tries and 2 drop goals to nil. Founded in 1868 as a section of the North of Ireland Cricket Club, it was one of the three oldest rugby clubs in Ireland until it merged and moved in with Collegians in 1999 to create Belfast Harlequins.  Subsequently, the ground was vacated and turned over to housing.

Lansdowne Road, which was conceived as a multi-sport venue by Henry Dunlop, organiser of the first All Ireland Athletics Championship, opened for athletics in 1872.  Incorporating a cinder track, the inevitable cricket pitch, croquet green, football pitches, archery facilities and lawn tennis courts, Lansdowne hosted its first rugby international on 11 March 1878 when Ireland succumbed to England by 2 goals and 1 try to nil.  The Irish Rugby Football Union took over the lease of the venue in the early 1900s and the ground became Ireland’s spiritual home for the next century until it closed for redevelopment after the autumn internationals in 2006.  The then reigning world champions South Africa were the first international visitors when Lansdowne Road was reborn as the Aviva Stadium on 6 November 2010.

The Ulster Cricket Ground in Ballynafeigh Park, Belfast hosted three matches between 1891 and 1894. The first visitors were Scotland on 21 February 1891, winning 0-14. [Please leave a comment if you can help locate this ground on the map. Thanks.]

Ireland’s match against Wales on 19 March 1898, which ended in defeat by 1 penalty goal to a goal, try and penalty goal, was played at Thomond Park, Limerick.  The home of Munster but owned by the Irish RFU, the stadium has been redeveloped since 2008.

The Mardyke Grounds of the University College Cork are arguably Ireland’s most successful home venue.  Three internationals have resulted in three home victories.  England succumbed by 17-3 on 11 February 1905. France have been defeated twice: by 25-5 on 25 March 1911 and by 24-0 on 24 March 1913.

The Balmoral Showgrounds of the Royal Ulster Agriculture Society staged several 4/5 Nations matches starting with the 0-8 defeat by Scotland on 19 February 1898.  The last match at the venue was the match against Wales on 12 March 1921 which  Wales won 0-6.  The Showgrounds also hosted South Africa in November 1906]

The modern home of Ulster Rugby, Ravenhill Park has hosted 12 internationals against 4/5/6 Nations opposition.  England were the first visitors on 9 February 1924 winning 3-14. Scotland were the last 5Nations visitors on 27 February 1954. Ireland won 6-0.

During the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road, there is a certain irony that Ireland have been permitted to play their home internationals at Croke Park, the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association.  Established in 1884 to counter the growing influence of so-called “foreign” sports – especially those from England – the GAA’s full title references its duty to ensure the “Preservation and Cultivation of National Pastimes.”  The first visitors to Croke Park on 11 February 2007 were at least gallic: France won 17-20.  Ireland were clear winners – by 43-13 – when England made their first historic visit two weeks later.   Scotland won the last of 14 international rugby matches at Croke Park, on 20 March 2010, winning 20-23.

Outside the 4/5/6 Nations Championship, Thomond Park Stadium in Limerick has hosted Ireland matches against Romania (September 2002), Italy (August 2003) and Canada (November 2009) while the Royal Dublin Society hosted Ireland’s match against Fiji as recently as November 2009.

IRFU results archive Team archive

Wales

Since their international debut at Blackheath in February 1881, Wales have played home fixtures at seven locations. Of these, the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham, has yet to stage a 4/5/6 Nations match.  Two of the home venues selected by Wales have been in England, and both of these have also been used by England as home grounds.

St Helen’s in Swansea staged Wales’ first home match on 16 December 1882.  England won by 2 goals and 4 tries to nil.  France’s first official 5 Nations match – a 49-14 defeat – was played at the Swansea ground on New Year’s Day 1910.  Hosting 50 4/5/6 Nations internationals up to the Wales v Scotland match in April 1954, St Helen’s has also been a cricket ground for more than 130 years. Most famously it was where, in 1968, Malcolm Nash suffered the ignominy of allowing Garry Sobers to become the first 1st class cricketer to hit 6 sixes in an over.

Rodney Parade, Newport, hosted six international matches between Scotland’s first visit and victory on 12 January 1884 and the 14-8 victory for Wales over France on 25 March 1912.

The long association between Cardiff Arms Park and international rugby began on 12 April 1884 with a Welsh victory over Ireland by 1 drop goal and 2 tries to nil. Donated by the Marquis of Bute to the City of Cardiff  “for recreational use” in perpetuity, the Arms Park was used by Cardiff Cricket Club from 1848 and subsequently by Glamorgan County Cricket Club until the 1960s.  The southern part of the park became the home of Cardiff RFC from 1876. In the 1960s, as cricketers relocated to pitches up-river in Sophia Gardens, Cardiff’s rugby club took over the former cricket ground while the existing rugby stadium was redeveloped for international use as the National Ground Cardiff Arms Park.  Between the Welsh 3-0 victory over England on 22 January 1955 and England’s 13-34 victory on 15 March 1997, all Wales’s 5 Nations home fixtures were played at the Arms Park / National Ground.

Stradey Park, Llanelli staged three 4 Nations matches starting with England’s visit and 0-0 draw on 4 January 1887.  The first match was actually moved at short notice from the deeply frozen rugby pitch to the adjacent cricket pitch.  (In 1998, during the redevelopment of the National Ground, Stradey Park hosted internationals against Italy in February and Argentina in November).

For the match against Ireland on 12 March 1887, the Welsh Rugby Union chose to play a home match in England.  With Ireland reluctant to travel to play the most junior of the 4 Nations, the match was played at Birkenhead Park – within easy reach of Liverpool Docks and the shipping lines to Dublin.  Wales’ generosity was rewarded with victory by a drop goal and a try to 3 tries: these were the days when a drop goal was valued much more than a try.  Wales were to play “away” on the same ground to England 16 years later.

Between 1997 and 1999, Wales decamped to England again – this time at Wembley.  As well as Autumn internationals against New Zealand (1997) and South Africa (1998), Wembley hosted four 5 Nations matches. The first was a 19-13 victory against Scotland.  Wales last action in the shadows of Wembley’s twin towers was Scott Gibbs dramatic (and heart-breaking for Englishmen) over-time try in the 32-31 victory over England on 11 April 1999.

The most famous feature of the new Millennium Stadium is, of course, its retractable roof – designed to fend off the metre of rain that falls on Cardiff in a typical year.   The new pitch, mounted on removable pallets, has been rotated through 90 degrees compared with the old National Ground to run north-south.  The (un-finished) Stadium opened for international rugby on 26 June 1999 to witness Wales’ first ever victory over South Africa by 29-19.  The (finished) Stadium subsequently staged the 1999 Rugby World Cup final in which Australia beat France 35-12 on 6 November 1999.  The Stadium’s first 6 Nations match was against France on 5 February 2000.

WRU results archive

RugbyData.com contains match-by-match details for most international rugby matches, including all 4/5/6 Nations matches.

Britain’s sporting museums, galleries and collections

By , 21st November 2009 22:39

The map below shows the locations of sporting museums, galleries and collections in Britain.  It includes institutions involved in Our Sporting Life as well as other museums and collections mentioned in the June 2006 Sports Heritage Network Mapping Survey by Annie Hood.

Many are dedicated to a particular sport. Others are museums with a more general remit which include significant collections with a sporting connection.

There are currently 56 collections featured on this map. It’s probably no surprise that 11 of the museums – the biggest group – are dedicated to football. As one of the longest established organised sports, cricket accounts for seven establishments. Follow the link at the foot of the map to see a listing of the museums alongside a larger map.

Museums related to hunting have been included on the grounds that national hunt racing, equestrianism, and shooting sports have the pastime in their ancestries. Its also worth remembering that before Victoria ascended the throne in 1837, in Britain the word “sport” was most often associated with hunting and angling.

It’s interesting to see that sporting museums can be found the length and breadth of Britain. Let me know if you know of any I’ve missed.

PS: its a shame Google maps doesn’t offer icons for archery, motor sport, cricket, shinty, fencing, shooting, badminton, rugby or tennis!

View Britain’s sporting museums and galleries in a larger map

‘Wembley for women’ aspires to rival Goodison Park

By , 24th September 2009 16:26

GoodisonParkIn September 2009, the Guardian reported on Nottingham Forrest’s plans for a new stadium and its vision to offer their proposed new home as a venue for future finals of the Womens FA Cup and England’s womens internationals.

The article applauded the promotion of the womens game by both Forest  and Nottingham City Council and their contribution to attracting a record attendance of 24,582 to the 2008 womens cup final held at the City Ground.

Notwithstanding the England womens team’s achievements at Euro2009, there is still some way to go before womens football regains the heights it enjoyed before it was banned by the Football Association in 1921.   The record crowd for a womens football match in England is 53,000.  The match took place at Everton’s Goodison Park on 26 December 1920 when the remarkable Dick, Kerr’s Ladies works team beat St Helens Ladies 4-0.

Looking for Busby’s birthplace in Lanarkshire

By , 15th September 2009 14:03

MattBusbyOn 6 September 2009, Motherwell defeated Manchester United’s reserves to win the Sir Matt Busby Shield.  The charity match was organised to commemorate the centenary of the birth of the first United manager to achieve “legend” status.  Busby was born on 26 May 1909 in Orbiston, now part of Bellshill, which lies a couple of miles north of Motherwell in North Lanarkshire.  Funds raised will provide scholarships to help people from Lanarkshire take their first steps as football coaches.

Having stumbled across a preview of the match in the Telegraph, I wondered how easy it would be to locate exactly where Busby was born.  In what appears to be a recurring theme with sporting landmarks, checking out one sporting connection threw up several others.

Orbiston

A Google search quickly provides a wealth of support for Orbiston, Bellshill, Lanarkshire as the birthplace of the manager of the first English club to win the European Cup (in 1968).  Controversially, manchesterunited.co.uk places Orbiston in England!

Around the time of Busby’s birth, Orbiston was a small mining village of just 30 houses.  Although neighbouring Bellshill had a two-ward hospital from the 1870’s, local sources take pride in the fact that it set up Lanarkshire’s first maternity hospital in 1917 – eight year’s after Busby birth.  In the early 20th century, before the NHS, hospital births were the exception rather than the rule – especially for the working class – so Busby would probably have been born at home.

Various sources record Busby’s father as Alexander Busby.  The 1901 Census reveals a family of Busby’s living in “Old Orbiston Road” in the Bellshill district.  The transcript of the census return currently available online doesn’t appear to identify which house in Old Orbiston Road the Busby family lived.

The head of the family was a 66-year old coal miner Alexander.  He had a son – or perhaps a grandson? – also called Alexander, who was 13 at the time of the census.  This teenage Alexander, who would have been about 22 in 1909, is presumably Matt’s father.

Alexander is clearly something of a family name in the Busby family.  Officially, Matt was Alexander Matthew Busby.  In its report on the Busby Shield match, The Bellshill Speaker notes that Sir Matt’s son is a Sandy – a common short form for Alexander.

Matt’s father fought in the First World War. Private Alexander Busby, S20225, of the 7th Batallion, Queens on Cameron Highlanders, was killed in action in France on 23 April 1917.  He is commemorated  at The Arras Memorial at Faubourg-D´Amiens Cemetery, Arras.  The (somewhat damaged) military records that can be accessed for him online specifically record Matt and his sisters as his children and next-of-kin.  Matt’s birthday of 26 May 1909 is also noted.

Alexander’s British Army Enlistment Attestation, dated 7 September 1914 – within days of the declaration of war, confirms that he had been a miner and gives his family’s address as “26 Old Orbiston”.  So where is “Old Orbiston” today?

Orbiston appears to have undergone significant redevelopment in the 20th century.  There is an Orbiston Road that borders Bellshill Golf Club.  Matt is also commemorated in the naming of the nearby Busby Road and the Sir Matt Busby Sports Complex in Bellshill town centre.

But Google Maps doesn’t recognise “Old Orbiston” or “Old Orbiston Road”.

ScottishMining.co.uk, a website that records the history of Scottish mining, reveals that the Summerlee Iron Co Ltd which ran the Orbiston Mine in 1910 owned 191 houses in five clusters in the area.  Two of the clusters are described as “New Orbiston Rows” and “Old Orbiston Rows”.  If the latter included the birthplace of Matt, the website gives us a picture of the home he was born into:

1. Old Orbiston Rows:-

16 One-apartment houses Rental £5 6s

16 Two-apartment houses Rental £7 7s

* One storey, brick built, back to back – Erected about 70 years ago – no damp-proof course – Plastered on brick – Brick floors in kitchen, worn and dilapidated, wood floors, unventilated, in rooms of two-apartment houses – Many internal walls damp, and plaster crumbling

* No overcrowding – apartments large

* No garden ground – no wash houses – no coal cellars

* One ashpit and two privies at end of row; one ashpit and two privies at rear of back row; one ashpit between rows

* No sinks – drainage by open channels

* Water supply from standpipes in front

* Scavenged at owners’ expense

via 1910 Housing – Scottish Mining Website.

From humble beginnings…

So although Old Orbiston Rows have disappeared from modern maps, Sportinglandmarks is grateful to a number of local people who share an interest in locating Matt’s birthplace.

At the end of 2012, Sportinglandmarks was contacted by Graham Bell from Orbiston. Graham noted that Busby’s home was situated on land now occupied by the Orb pub on Orbiston road. He suggested that a wall from the row of houses stood for a number of years and a wall from one of the other Orbiston Rows can still be seen further along Strachan Street, incorporated into lockups garages.

In August 2013, Alexander Lochars kindly share the fruits of his own diligent research which has included contacting local authorities and heritage centres.  By overlaying the 1913 Ordnance Survey Map on its modern equivalents, the Planning and Building Standards Services of South Lanarkshire Council located Old Orbiston just under half a mile to the south of the Orb Pub. See Alexander’s input in the comments below.

A number of possibilities come to mind for the discrepancy between the house numbers recorded in the 1911 Census seen by Alexander Lochars (but not by Sportinglandmarks) and the Matt’s father’s Army records. As the Busby’s lived in property rented from the Summerlee Iron Co, its not impossible that they may have moved, or been moved for some reason.  Another plausible possibility is that whoever completed the enlistment form – its not clear whether its in Alexander Busby’s own writing or that of the attesting officer – may have incorrectly noted the house number.  As Busby enlisted in the very early days of the War, the recruitment centre was likely to have been very busy.


View

Olympian

Matt himself has an Olympic connection in that he was manager of the Great Britain football team at the 1948 Games in London.  As a Scot, it would be fascinating to hear Busby’s view of the initial plans for an all-English “British” team for London 2012.

Other sporting connections

Wikipedia cites a 1996 TV documentary that claimed that both Jock Stein and Bill Shankly – two other football managers who distinguished themselves in European tournaments – were born in Bellshill.  Yet the Wikipedia entries for Stein and Shankly tell a slightly different story.

Stein, who twice managed Celtic including when they became the first British club to win the European Cup in 1967, was born on 5 October 1922 in Burnbank, (South) Lanarkshire. Another former mining village, Burnbank is about three miles from Orbiston and Bellshill.

Shankly led Liverpool to its first European trophy, the 1973 UEFA Cup, and laid the foundations for five European Cup wins.  He was born in Glenbuck, (East) Ayrshire, on 2 September 1913.  As the crow flies, Glenbuck is around 25 miles due south.  Nevertheless, its quite remarkable that three managers that made such an impact on soccer during the 1960s and 70s should all come from such a small area.

Bellshill has continued to contribute to top-flight football. Celtic legend Billy McNeil (1940), John Reid (1947) the former government minister and Chairman of Celtic and Ally McCoist (1962) former player and current manager at Rangers were also born in Bellshill.

With this propensity to create footballers, the question is, is there is some strange property in the local water?  If so, Britain’s rowers and other water sport enthusiasts should take note!  Just across the Bellshill golf course from Orbiston is Strathclyde Park which hosts the National Rowing Championships every three years or so.  The loch was also the venue the last time rowing was officially part of the Commonwealth Games in 1986.  Having won three Commonwealth gold medals – in the single scull, coxless pair and coxed four – Steve Redgrave can add the distinction of having been a reigning triple Commonwealth Games champion for more than 20 years to his more widely remembered Olympic titles.

tracihunterabramson.com/vgs/starex.php?mxc=68137 Tips for relieving menstrual pain painful menstrual periods (dysmenorrhea) are one of the most common symptoms of fibroids. Massive vaginal hemorrhage after uterine fibroid embolization. quotcomparison of the effect of gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist and dopamine receptor agonist on uterine myoma growth. all-sanfrancisco.com/xmf-64775/ http://gonzalezmiguel.es/aha-61776/ Acta obstet gynecol scand 199978:632-635. Org uterine-sibroids. larocadesign.com/vtp-67870/ quotcomparison of the effect of gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist and dopamine receptor agonist on uterine myoma growth. Spontaneous miscarriage rates are greatly increased in pregnant women with fibroids compared with control subjects without fibroids (14% vs 7. graceworksstudio.org/yoq-65892/ Ranked 3. Org uterine-sibroids. http://daytodaypolitics.com/yhm-64150/ viagra pills in pakistan Because they are also high in fat and estrogen is stored in fat cells, these foods may cause additional problems for women with fibroids. 2008 aug112(2 pt 1):387-400. Spontaneous miscarriage rates are greatly increased in pregnant women with fibroids compared with control subjects without fibroids (14% vs 7. daily viagra and viagra

Panorama Theme by Themocracy