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1932: Sir Charles Clegg and some interesting topics
Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2022-05-23 15:23:04
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LEAVES FROM MY NOTEBOOK
Looker-on | 26/11/1932
England team that selected itself! — Brilliant side of 1895 — The trio of midget half-backs — Bloomer, the bane of Scotland.
The president of the Football Association, Sir Charles Clegg, explains to readers of the "Sports Special" this week difficulties of the International Selection Committee, and so is emphasised anew the unenviable task of the Committee, which will sit in the Sheffield next Monday to choose the England team to oppose Austria.
In 1895, when England defeated Scotland at Goodison Park by 3—0, the team was chosen in a very few minutes; in fact, it practically selected itself, as at least eight or nine of the players simply could not be left out, they were so outstanding. Selectors would be glad if they could do their work as quickly now. To-day, however, though there are more good players, there are few that stand head and shoulders above all others.
Who were the men of England's brilliant eleven in 1895? In goal there was J. W. Sutcliffe; the backs were L. V. Lodge, of Cambridge University, and Jimmy Crabtree, of Burnley, who afterwards went to the Villa; and John Reynolds (Aston Villa), John Holt (Everton), and E. Needham (Sheffield United) were the half-backs. W. I. Bassett (West Bromwich Albion), Steve Bloomer (Steve Bloomer), J. Goodall (Derby County), R. C. Gosling (Old Etonians), and S. Smith (Aston Villa) were the forwards.
LINE OF BRILLIANT MIDGETS
Those players formed one of the finest sides England ever put into the field, and they outclassed Scotland. Sutcliffe was a superb goalkeeper of over six feet in height, and, incidentally, he won International honours in Rugby. It is questionable whether the game has known a better goalkeeper.
Lodge was a rare personality, absolutely fearless, a brilliant positional player, and a great driver of the ball. His partner, Jimmy Crabtree, was the finest footballer of all time. For years he was England's best back; so versatile, too, that he played in all the half-back and back positions for his country at one time or another. He had speed, strength, coolness, and such control over the ball that he could place it wherever he wished.
Nowadays the value of inches is often discussed, yet England's half-back line in the match in question was one of midgets, as Reynolds stood only 5ft. 6in., Holt, the pivot, only 5ft. 4 1/2in., and Ernest Needham 5ft. 5 1/2in. Needham then weighed 10st. 8lb., and he was the heaviest of the three. But what a half-back line!
You should hear George Waller talk of these one-time "stars" — of "Daddy" Holt, who was equal to the tallest centre-forward alive when reaching up to a high ball; of "Nudger" Needham, the best left half-back England has had.
THE ADVENT OF BLOOMER
Everyone knows of Steve Bloomer and his wonderful feats, a player whose name will never be forgotten; of Johnny Goodall, a splendid centre-forward, as skilful as he was modest and quiet; of "Billy" Bassett, now chairman of West Bromwich Albion, and a member of the Management Committee of the League, and then England's premier outside-right.
Gosling was a magnificent dribbler and captain of the side, and his partner, the outside-left, Steve Smith, was as good as the best, a fast winger, master of ball control, and a deadly shot.
Sutcliffe, Lodge, and Crabtree had never previously played against Scotland; Bloomer and Smith were playing in their first international match. For all that the blend attained was well-nigh perfect.
Bloomer scored 28 goals for England in International games and shot his first in this first game of 1895, and one might add that although he played against Scotland on ten occasions Bloomer was on the losing side only twice.
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