A look at some of the most distinguished footballers to have come from independent schools over the last 140 years.
Sir Francis Marindin was educated at Eton College and enjoyed a distinguished military career, serving in the Crimean War (1854-56). He played for the Royal Engineers as Captain Marindin in the first F.A. Cup Final of 1872 and appeared again in the Cup Final of 1874 as Major Marindin. He refereed 7 Finals as Major Marindin (1880, 1885, 1886, 1887, 1888 & 1889) ay which time he was widely known as simply “The Major”. He subsequently, as Colonel Marindin, became President of the Football Association in 1874, guiding it through the huge expansion that the game underwent in the sixteen years up to 1890.
Lord Kinnaird was born in 1847 and became one of the greatest figures of the early years of Association Football. He attended Eton College and Cambridge University and appeared in 9 F.A. Cup Finals, gaining 5 winners medals, 3 with the Wanderers and 2 with the Old Etonians. As a player he played in nearly every position on the field, from goalkeeper to forward, and his size and red beard made him a notable figure, famed for his forceful play. When his mother once expressed her fears that he would one day return with a broken leg, one of his friends replied "Never fear ma'am, it won't be his own!". Following the 1882 Cup Final, in which Old Etonians defeated Blackburn Rovers, he performed a handstand in front of the Oval Pavilion. He played for Scotland once, against England in 1873. He became treasurer of the Football Association in 1877 and then President in 1890, a position he held until his death. He was a key administrator during the period when great controversy was caused by the arrival of professionalism. Although a staunch amateur himself, he was able to understand the role that professionalism could have in establishing his sport as the country’s national game. He believed in football’s ability to bring together on the field men of all classes and backgrounds. He died in 1923, sadly just before the opening of Wembley Stadium, but he had presided over the game’s greatest period of expansion.
C.W. Alcock was born in Sunderland and attended Harrow School. He helped to form Forest F.C. (subsequently the Wanderers F.C.) whom he represented at the founding meeting of the F.A. at Lincoln’s Inn Fields in October 1863. Alcock was Hon. Secretary of the Football Association for 25 years from 1870. He worked tirelessly in the 1860s to establish “one universal game”, oversaw the introduction of international football in the early 1870s and it was at his initiative that the F.A. Cup was introduced in Season 1871-72, inspired by Harrow’s Cock House competition, the inter-house knock-out football tournament. Appropriately Alcock captained the Wanderers to victory in the first F.A. Cup Final in 1872, his only appearance in the Final. He later refereed 2 F.A. Cup Finals (1875 & 1879) and subsequently became Vice-President of the Football Association and a senior member of Surrey County Cricket Club.
In 1959 Geoffrey Green, Football Editor of The Times wrote: “C.W. Alcock, supported by the military discipline of Marindin and the social graces of Kinnaird, was the real driving force and genius in his position of secretary, a rank that was to grow to one of vast importance in the years of expansion ahead. Alcock was a true lover of sport and sportsmanship. For a quarter of a century he held the reins of administration while the character and significance of football underwent a crucial change. The part he played in all this evolution was beyond measure. That must be repeated, for it was his idea of the Cup and international football that finally set the game on its pedestal. He was the one who set a light to what was one day to become a world-wide fire” (Fabian, A.H. & Green, Geoffrey, Association Football., Volume 1, pp57-58, Caxton, 1960)
C.J. Ottoway - Cuthbert Ottaway was educated at Eton and Oxford, where he represented the university at 5 different sports, a feat believed to be unmatched since. His main claim to fame is that he was Captain of England in the world's first ever international football match, against Scotland in Glasgow, in 1872. He also played in 3 consecutive FA Cup Finals, 1873-75, the first two for Oxford University, the last one for Old Etonians. In the 1875, he received a severe hack on the ankle and was forced to leave the field. There is no record of his ever having played again. He died in 1878, aged just 27.
R.W.S. Vidal – Robert Vidal attended Westminster School and played in the first three F.A. Cup Finals for The Wanderers. In 1872 he was still at school and he is therefore believed to be still the only player to have appeared in an F.A. Cup Final while still at school. He won one England cap.
A.T.B. Dunn – Arthur Dunn attended Eton College and went on to play for the Old Etonians, the Corinthians and England. He was a member of the Old Etonians team that defeated Blackburn Rovers in the 1882 F.A. Cup Final but was injured in the 1883 Final when the Etonians lost to Blackburn Olympic. He also won 3 England caps, 2 as captain. However, as the professional game took an increasing hold over English football in the last nineteenth century, it became increasingly apparent that it was impossible for amateur clubs to win the F.A. Cup and there was much concern over the future of the amateur game as a result. Dunn proposed the formation of a competition for the old boys of the public schools but, shortly afterwards, died at the age of 41 in 1902. In his memory, exactly such a tournament was immediately introduced, the cup being named the Arthur Dunn Cup. Dunn was the founding Headmaster of Ludgrove Prep School.
C. Wreford Brown – Charles Wreford Brown was, like so many of this era, a talented all-round sportsman at Charterhouse. At Oxford University legend has it that he invented the term “soccer”, in reply to the constant references to “rugger”. He played a major part in establishing the Arthur Dunn Cup competition, he was Manager of the 1936 British Olympic team in Berlin, which he prevented from giving the Nazi salute, and he eventually became Chairman of the Football Association.
G.O. Smith was educated at Charterhouse and at Keble College, Oxford. An outstanding schoolboy and university player, he also scored a century at Lord’s to win the Varsity match against Oxford. However, it is football for which he is famous and he remains remarkable in that, for decades after he had retired, he was still regarded as one of the greatest centre-forwards ever to play the game even though he remained an amateur throughout his career. He played 20 times for England between 1893 and 1901, scoring 11 goals, at a time when only 3 international matches were played each year. He seldom headed the ball but was famous for being one of the earliest exponents of the art of passing, sucking opponents towards him with his ball skills and then releasing the ball with perfect timing to an unmarked colleague. He scored 125 goals in 131 matches for the Corinthians and, after his playing career, he became joint Headmaster of Ludgrove Prep School following the death of Arthur Dunn. He died in 1943.
C.B. Fry – Charles Burgess Fry was born 1872, attended Repton School and won a major scholarship to Oxford, where he represented the University at football, cricket, athletics and rugby, being captain in the first three of these. Lord Cowdray described him as “the greatest athlete and sportsman England ever had”. Though he is more famous for his exploits as a cricketer and athlete, he was nevertheless a fine footballer, winning one England cap in 1901 and playing for Southampton in the 1902 F.A. Cup Final. His sporting exploits are the stuff of legend and only a few can be included here. He might well have won a gold medal at the 1896 the Olympic Games but he was unaware they were taking place but he held the World Long Jump record for nearly 20 years and he captained Sussex County Cricket Club and opened the batting for England with W.G. Grace. He was a founding vice-president of Chelsea F.C. in 1905 and later he taught at Charterhouse and then became a noted journalist and author who flirted with fascism and met Hitler in 1934. He had a keen interest in politics but failed to become a Member of Parliament. However, he represented India at the League of Nations and was offered the throne of Albania but did not have sufficient money to accept. As if all this was not enough incident for one lifetime, his ancestors had been involved in smuggling and his wife figured in a major Victorian sex scandal.
A.M. & P.M. Walters were both full backs who attended Charterhouse. They went to opposing universities and played against each other in the 1884 Varsity match. Both played for the Corinthians and, in an age when defenders were not normally meant to do more than clear the ball long, they made their name by having the ability to hold the ball and pass their way out of trouble and, when appropriate, by being able to push forward and join in attacks. Both brothers gave up the game in 1890 when their younger brother was killed while playing football.
W.N. Cobbold was another Carthusian who, after Cambridge University, made his name playing for the Corinthians. He was famous for his accurate shooting and outstanding dribbling, becoming known as “The Prince of Dribblers”. He won 9 England caps between 1883 and 1887.
R.E. Foster was know as “Tip” Foster. He attended Malvern College and remains the only man ever to captain England at both football and cricket, a feat that is extremely unlikely ever to be matched. His cricket record was particularly exceptional and his 287 at Sydney in 1903 remains today the highest ever score by an Englishman in a Test Match in Australia. At football he won 5 England caps though he would almost certainly have won more but for injuries and his commitments as a stockbroker. He died at just 36 from diabetes.
W.J. Oakley – William Oakley was one of Shrewsbury School’s most outstanding sportsmen. After leaving school he attended Oxford University. He played for both Oxford and the Corinthians and won 16 England caps, 15 of them consecutively between 1896 and 1901. He also competed at both the long jump and the hurdles for England against America in New York in 1895. Following the death of Arthur Dunn in 1902 he became joint Headmaster (with G.O. Smith) of Ludgrove Prep School. He died in a car accident in 1934.
M.M. Morgan-Owen – Morgan Morgan-Owen attended Shrewsbury School and played for Oxford University and Corinthians, winning 11 full caps for Wales between 1879 and 1907 but turning down an additional cap when invited to play for Wales against Ireland in 1903 because it clashed with the first Arthur Dunn Cup Final, in which he played for Old Salopians against Old Carthusians. Also in 1903, he was captain of the Corinthians when they achieved one of their most famous ever victories, defeating F.A. Cup holders Bury 10-3. He also played one league match for Nottingham Forest in 1901. He served with distinction during the First World War, taking part in the Gallipoli campaign and being wounded and gassed in France. He subsequently became President of the Casuals and master in charge of football at Repton School. Morgan-Owen (left/above, heading the ball) in action for Wales against England at Craven Cottage in 1907. The other Welsh player competing for the ball is the legendary Billy Meredith.
Max Woosnam was educated at Winchester and was one of the great all rounders of all time. He played for Chelsea just before the First World War and for Manchester City just after. In addition, however, he scored 144 for the Public Schools at Lords, played off scratch at golf, once scored a 147 break at snooker, reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in 1923, won a tennis Olympic Golf Medal in the mens doubles in 1920 and captained the British Davis Cup team! He might have achieved more had his sporting career not been interrupted by the First World War during which he fought on both the Western Front and also at Gallipoli.
A.G. Bower was known as “Baishe” and was educated at Charterhouse and played for the Corinthians, winning 13 amateur England international caps and 5 full England caps at a time when it was becoming increasingly rare for an amateur to play for the full international team. He also played 9 times for Chelsea between 1923 and 1925 and remains probably the only person to play top flight league football whilst at the same time being a Member of the Stock Exchange. Between 1928 and 1933 he represented the public schools on the F.A. Council. He died in 1973.
C.T. Ashton – Claude Ashton was educated at Winchester and Cambridge University and played for the Corinthians in several different positions including goalkeeper, though his preferred position was wing-half. He scored for the Corinthians in their famous F.A. Cup tie against Newcastle United in 1927. He gained one England cap, against Northern Ireland in 1926, and remains the last player to captain England in his only international appearance. He also gained 9 England amateur caps. Ashton died in the Second World War, whilst serving in the Royal Air Force.
A.H. Chadder – Harvey Chadder was educated at Taunton School and at Oxford University. He was a pillar of the Corinthian sides of the late 1920s, playing in all their major F.A. Cup games including the famous 1927 match with Newcastle United when Chadder played magnificently against the famous Hughie Gallager. Chadder was master in charge of football at Malvern College for many years and died in 1995.
Donald Shearer attended Aldenham School and played in one of only two Aldenham sides to win the Arthur Dunn Cup (1933). In 1935 and 1936 he played for the Irish League against the Football League and in the 1936 he also played for the Casuals in the team that won the F.A. Amateur Cup. During the Second World War he served in Africa and as Commander of the garrison at Tobruk.
After the Second World War Pegasus temporarily became the new heroes of amateur football, winning the F.A. Amateur Cup in 1951 And 1953. Included in their Cup winning line-ups were John Tanner (Charterhouse), Tony Pawson (Winchester), Donald Carr (Repton) and Ken Shearwood (Shrewsbury), all of whom played in both Finals. They were joined in the 1953 Final by Reg Vowells(Brentwood) and G.H McKinna (Manchester GS). Tanner and Pawson were both England Amateur Internationals, while Shearwood subsequently became Master in charge of Football at Lancing College. Another England amateur international and Pegasus player of the late 1950s, Robin Trimby (Forest), ran football at Shrewsbury School for 21 years.
Robin Trimby (Oxford University) goes past Ken Shearwood (Pegasus) to score in a 2-1 victory in 1956
Between 1960 and 1990 it was rare for an independent schoolboy to play football at a high level. The amateur game was in decline and the notion of “amateurism” was eventually abolished in 1974, along with the F.A. Amateur Cup and the England amateur international team, while the professional game was too risky, offering only limited financial rewards, and could not be combined with a university education. However, here were some notable exceptions.
The most outstanding of these was Jimmy Armfield of Arnold School who went on to play his entire career at Blackpool, appearing 569 times, and to play 43 times for England, on several occasions as captain. He played in the 1962 World Cup in Chile, at which time he was regarded by many as the outstanding full-back in the world, and was a non-playing member of the 22 man England squad which won the 1966 World Cup. After his retirement he became Manager of Bolton Wanderers and then Leeds United, taking Leeds to the 1975 European Cup Final. Nowadays he is best known as a summariser for BBC Radio 5 Live. He was awarded an OBE in 2000
Another old boy of Arnold School was George Eastham who won 19 England caps whilst a player with Arsenal. His move from Newcastle to Arsenal in 1960, a deal that was infamous for changing the transfer regulations after Eastham had taken Newcastle to court for attempting to prevent the transfer by retaining his registration. A member of England's 1962 World Cup Squad, he and his father were the first father and son both to have played for England (a feat subsequently matched by the Cloughs and the Lampards). Having captained Arsenal, Eastham moved to Stoke City, winning a League Cup Winners medal in 1972. He was awarded an OBE in 1973 and was Manager of Stoke between 1977 and 1978.
John Baugh attended Aldenham School. Whilst a student at college in Exeter, he was signed by Exeter City in March 1978 and was thrust almost immediately into their promotion campaign in the old Fourth Division (now League 2). He played the final 13 games of the season, keeping 8 team sheets as Exeter finished second and clinched promotion. After two years as a professional footballer, Baugh decided to leave the game to pursue his career in teaching and he is now Headmaster of The Dragon School, Oxford.
Mel Eves was an old boy of Wolverhampton Grammar School and a talented left-winger, Mel Eves made his debut in 1977 and played for Wolves in the old First and Second Divisions, twice finishing as top scorer, the highlight of his career being the 1980 Football League Cup Final when Wolves beat Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest 1-0 at Wembley. He subsequently played for Sheffield United, where he was once voted Player of the Year, and he finished his career with Gillingham and Walsall.
Stewart Robson left Brentwood School at 16 and in 1982 made his debut in Arsenal’s First Team at the age of 17. He made 151 league appearances for Arsenal (16 goals) between 1982 and 1987 and was voted the club’s Player of the Year in 1985. He also won 8 England Under-21 caps before he moved to West Ham United in January 1987. His West Ham career was hit by a series of injuries and he made just 69 league appearances (4 goals) before joining Coventry City in 1991 but again injuries took their toll and he was forced to retire in 1995, having made 57 appearances (3 goals) for the Sky Blues. He has subsequently undertaken coaching roles at Wimbledon, Southend United and Rushden & Diamonds and is now working in the media.
Since the establishment of the Barclays Premiership, with the hugely increased rewards that a career in football can offer, independent schoolboys have again begun to appear more frequently in the upper echelons of the game, with a number currently playing in the Barclays Premiership and the Coca-Cola Football League (see “Current Professional Players).
The first of these was Quinton Fortune who attended Forest School and appeared for them in the first Boodle & Dunthorne ISFA Cup Final in 1993, whilst a schoolboy player with Tottenham. Quinton later went on to play for Real Mallorca, Atletico Madrid, Manchester United and Bolton Wanderers, as well as for South Africa, for whom he appeared in both the 1998 and 2002 World Cup Finals.
James Beattie, once of QEGS Blackburn, enjoyed a long career in the Premier League, most notably with Southampton and Everton, and also played for Rangers in the Scottish Premier League. He won 5 England caps and, in 2013, he was appointed as Manager of Accrington Stanley.
Without question, however, the most distinguished "old boy" in the history of independent schools football is Frank Lampard. He attended Brentwood School and also played for the ISFA Under-16 representative team in 1993-94. He left school at 16 to sign a professional contract with West Ham United. He made his league debut whilst on loan to Swansea City in 1995 but made his Premiership debut for the Hammers in 1996, subsequently becoming captain of the England Under-21 team and making his full England debut against Belgium in October 2000. In 2001 he was transferred to Chelsea for £11 million. His subsequent career has flourished as he has progressed to becoming one of the country’s top players. He won Barclays Premier League winners medals in 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2009-10, FA Cup Winners medals in 2006-07, 2008-09 (scoring the winning goal), 2009-10 and 2011-12 and Carling Cup winners medals in 2004-05 and 2006-07. In May 2008 he became the first independent schoolboy to play in the UEFA Champions League Final when he played and scored for Chelsea against Manchester United in Moscow. Four years later, in 2012, he captained Chelsea to victory over Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League Final. He also captained Chelsea in the 2012 World Club Championship Final against Corinthians of Brazil and to victory in the 2013 Europa League Final. In May 2013, he broke the all-time Chelsea goalscoring record. For England he played in EURO 2004 in Portugal and in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, captaining the team on one occasion in the 2014 Finals in Brazil. In September 2013, he won his 100th England cap, only the ninth player in history to reach that milestone. Other honours include the Football Writers Association Footballer of the Year Award in 2005, runner-up in the European Footballer of the Year Award in 2005, runner-up in the 2005 FIFA World Player of the Year Awards and, in 2007-08, he was voted UEFA's 2007-08 Midfield Player of the Year. Following his departure from Chelsea in 2014, he spent year at Manchester City where he made a further 32 appearances before joining New York City in the United States Major Soccer League in summer 2015. He was awarded an OBE in 2015.
Neil Harris, who attended Brentwood School, has become a legend of Millwall FC, for whom he made 380 appearances, becoming the club's all-time record goalscorer with 115 goals. He also played for Nottingham Forest and Southend United and, on loan, for Cardiff City and Gillingham. Following his playing career, he had several stints as caretaker-manager of Millwall and he took the role on a permanent basis in 2015.
Paul Tisdale attended Millfield. His professional career took him to Southampton, Bristol City, Yeovil Town and Exeter City as well as loan spells at Northampton and Huddersfield. He also played in Finland and Greece. Having been forced to retire early through injury, he became Head Coach at Team Bath (University of Bath team), with such success that he was appointed Manager of Exeter City in 2006. He is now one of the longest serving Managers in English football, behind only Arsene Wenger.
Sun 12th Mar
ISFA U16 v. Millwall
(City of London School
Playing Fields, 11.00)
Mon 20th Mar
Boodles ISFA Cup Final
(MK Dons FC)
ISFA U13 Regional
ISFA U18 & U16 Tour
ISFA U15 & U14 Tour
Thurs 27th Apr
ISFA U16 Shield Final
(St. George's Park, 6.00)
Sun 30th Apr
ISFA U17 v.
Scotland Independent Schools
(Altrincham FC, 2.00)
Wed 10th May
ISFA U11 Seven-a-Side Tournament
(St. George's Park)