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Billy Meredith: Soccer Giants VIII.
Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2023-04-16 17:28:23
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RAPID RISE OF STEVE BLOOMER
— Billy Meredith | 25/11/1934 —
The Prince of inside rights is the best way to describe Steve Bloomer of Derby County and Middlesbrough fame. He is the man whom Scotland always feared in international matches: the player who practically "mesmerised" them, and the man who, though unselfish to a degree, scored goals almost at command.
Steve Bloomer was actively engaged in football for twenty years, and in that time scored 352 League goals, while in twenty-three international matches against all countries he registered twenty-eight goals. That record in itself tells why he was feared!
It was in 1892 that the late Harry Newbould discovered Steve Bloomer, a stripling of a player who joined Derby County. Little did Harry Newbould realise at the time that he had unearthed of the greatest figures in Association football.
I came in contact with Steve both on and off the field. He was one of the quickest-thinking players I ever knew, besides which he possessed a wonderful shot. Also I cannot recall a player who was so speedy and tricky in his movements.
"KEEP BLOOMER STILL!"
In nearly every game in which Bloomer played you could rest assured that the opposition had given more than average thought to the best way to stop Bloomer. "Keep Bloomer still and you will have a chance of winning," was the cry of opponents.
Yet Bloomer was appreciated by every player for his clean work, and so admired was he for his skill that seldom was he stopped in any other but the orthodox way.
I don't know whether the camaraderie spirit was higher in the days of Bloomer or not, but as I have said, he played for twenty years, and obviously had he been challenged or tackled in any way except the correct way Steve would not have played so long.
Bloomer was not a largely made player. He stood about 5ft. 8 1/2 in. and weighed about 11st. Such was his brilliance, however, and so fleet of foot and quick-thinking was he that I hesitate to think what would happen if Bloomer, playing as in his heyday, took the field under the present rules.
I visualise Steve as being between the backs before they had time to turn around, while his methods would certainly defeat the irritating offside tactics which add to the faults of football nowadays.
Bloomer's first wages with Derby County were 7s. 6d. per week! Modern juniors get at least £4.
Bloomer was twenty-one when he first represented England, this honour falling to him after he had been with Derby for three years!
Steve went to Middlesbrough about 1906. I remember the occasion very well, because at that time it had come to my ears that Middlesbrough thought of signing myself and the late Sandy Turnbull. Manchester City refused to part.
Middlesbrough had a great side then. They had paid the record transfer fee of £1,000 for Alfred Common and Bloomer cost them £650. Judged on present standards he was, I should say, worth £20,000!
Steve, however, did not remain long with Middlesbrough. After about four years he returned to Derby. I believe he was homesick, and wanted to get back to the County, who paid £100 for his re-transfer.
IDEA THAT FELL THROUGH.
After his return he assisted Derby to get back into the First Division, and it is a fact that about 1902 the County made an effort to secure my transfer from Manchester City in order to join Bloomer. But the idea fell through.
During the period Bloomer was with Derby the side reached the semi-final of the F.A. Cup on seven occasions. They reached the final three times but without any luck.
Steve played in two of the finals, but being injured he was unable to turn out in the third. That "miss" was against Bury, when the Sharkers won 6—0. I saw the game and I am convinced that had Bloomer been playing he would have snapped up two chances which Derby had in the first ten minutes, and might easily have won the game.
One the two occasions Bloomer did play in the final — against Notts Forest and Sheffield United — he finished on the losing side, so that, like Crompton and Buchan, other outstanding players, he was denied a Cup-winners' medal.
While Steve Bloomer was outstanding in England, the late Bobby Walker, of Hearts, was just as prominent in Scottish football.
To-day I regard George Eastham, of Bolton, as the pick of the inside rights of his country. I have only seen him three times this season, but they have been sufficient to prove conclusively to me that England has no better man for the position.
I am certain he is destined for international honours in the very near future. He is quite as good as Westwood, also of the Wanderers, who incidentally has played for England this season.
I like Eastham's style and his quickness with the ball. He is always making ground, has a delightful body swerve, and is most unselfish.
Little wonder that Milson and Taylor (G. T.) are in such fine form for the Wanderers, for with Eastham between them they have a fine and skilful purveyor of the ball.
Jackie Bestall, of Grimsby, now approaching the veteran stage, is another great present-day player. Why he has been overlooked by England in past years I cannot say.
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