FOOTBALL - ALCOCK, C. W., & Rowland Hill (eds.)

Famous Footballers. 1895-1896.

London: Published by "The News of the World", 1896 Stock Code: 131462
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Outstanding images from the infancy of football

First collected edition, originally issued in 14 fascicles as Famous Footballers and Athletes 1895-96. A superb visual record depicting the leading contemporary football and rugby players and teams alongside administrators and the most celebrated football sides of the day, including Sheffield United, Hull, Stoke, Royal Arsenal, Middlesbrough, Leicester Fosse, Blackburn Rovers, Corinthians, Preston North End, Sheffield Wednesday, Derby County, Millwall, Wolves, Hartlepool, Newcastle United. Each player portrait includes a facsimile signature and a potted biography; full team listings are also given. Included here is the Ghanaian Arthur Wharton (1865-1930), "the world's first black professional footballer" (ODNB), who was born in Accra the son of a free-born African-Grenadan woman and a Scottish merchant. Wharton kept goal for Preston before joining a number of other clubs, as well as playing professional cricket in the Yorkshire and Lancashire leagues. He finished his days working as a colliery haulage hand in he south Yorkshire pit villages: "dying in poverty, Wharton left few personal possessions save a Bible and some photos. The little that is known of his character suggests an extrovert, proud man grounded in his blackness" (ibid.).

C. W. Alcock was a key figure in football, who would become the "most influential secretary in the FA" (Routledge Handbook of Football Studies, 2017, p. 33), devising the rules for the FA cup "on the basis of the knock-out house competitions he had known at Harrow. He also took a lead in organizing the first unofficial international match between England and Scotland at the Oval in November 1870 and umpired the first official encounter two years later in Glasgow" (ODNB). Similarly, Sir Rowland Hill played a parallel role in the world of rugby, "remembered above all for his defence of amateurism, for he believed incipient professionalism in rugby union football to be an evil likely to lead to violent and dangerous play" (ibid.).

Decidedly scarce, Library Hub locates just three copies (Oxford and Cambridge (original parts) and Scotland) among British and Irish institutional libraries; WorldCat adds just Harvard and Ithaca (publisher cited as Hudson & Kearns). We have located another at the National Football Museum (dark blue cloth).

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Small folio (363 x 240 mm). Original red sand-grain cloth over bevelled boards, front cover with blind-stamped border and corner fleurons, gilt title within a cartouche and stamp of a player running with the ball, patterned floral endpapers.


224 full-page portraits from photographs.


Spine sunned and slightly cocked, a few old pale stains and splash-marks, small area of fabric loss at fore-edge of rear cover, inner hinges cracked (rear one a little shaken but stable), scattered foxing. A very good copy, bright and clean.


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