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England's Disputed Captains
 

Original Notes on England's Disputed Captaincies 

We are reasonably satisfied our list of England captains is complete and accurate.  However, we have had some difficulty in determining the captains in 18 matches--14 played before World War II and four after--because the literature contains conflicting information as to their identity.  Below we detail our sources and explain how we resolved each of these disputes.  The matches in which the captain's identity is disputed are marked by an asterisk after the captain's name in our match-by-match list of captains with a link to the relevant note below.  We welcome comments on the decisions we have made.

Sources

We have relied first of all on the Football Association website's chronological list of pre-war captains, which notes the first and last years each one served as captain although not the particular matches in which they served as captain or the total number of matches they served as captain.  We have given full credence to that list since the Football Association keeps the official England team records.   We have also relied on the post-World War II match-by-match lists of captains in the Football Association yearbooks for various years, although we believe they are not entirely free of error.

We also have relied on four books which contain match-by-match captain lists:  Ron Hockings & Keir Radnedge, Nations of Europe, vol. 1 (Articulate, Ernsworth, Hampshire, U.K., 1993); Mike Payne, England: The Complete Post-War Record (Breedon Books Publishing Company, Derby, U.K., 1993); International Federation of Football History & Statistics,  England (1872 - 1940), Eire (1924 - 1940), England/Amateurs (1906 - 1940): Full Internationals (IFFHS, Wiesbaden, Germany, 2000); and Andrew Mourant & Jack Rollin, The Essential History of England (Headline Book Publishing, London, 2002).  These books contain some inconsistencies regarding the captains for particular matches, but we believe we have been able to resolve them satisfactorily through resort to the F.A. records and/or other reputable sources.  

The Disputed Pre-World War II Captaincies

*Match No. 5, 4 March 1876, Scotland 3 England 0 - Hockings/Radnedge and Mourant/Rollin say G. Hubert H. Heron was captain, while the IFFHS says it was his younger brother, C. Francis W. Heron.  On the face of it, it would seem the elder brother, Hubert, was the more likely captain since he was earning the fourth of five caps while Francis was winning his one and only cap.  However, the seminal Scottish source, Alan Brown's Scottish Football Data Services website, has the captain as Francis Heron.  Moreover, the F.A. list has Francis Heron as a captain in 1876, but does not mention Hubert Heron as a captain in any year, and that settles the matter for us.

*Match No. 39, 15 March 1890,  Ireland 1 England 9 - Hockings/Radnedge is silent as to the captain, while both the IFFHS and Mourant/Rollin say it was James H. Forrest.   The F.A. lists Forrest as serving as captain in 1890 and only 1890,  and it is settled that Percy M. Walters was the captain for the two other matches England played in 1890.  We have thus gone for Forrest as captain, although the matter is not free from doubt.  Football  historian Cris Freddi, himself the author of a book on  the England team, has done extensive research in the English and Irish newspapers of the time and has not found a single contemporaneous record of England's captain for the match.  In correspondence with this website, he has questioned whether Forrest was in fact the captain.   It is perhaps noteworthy that this is one of the three instances in the 1890's in which England fielded separate sides against Wales and Ireland on the same day.

*Match No. 45, 5 March 1892,  Ireland 0 England 2 - Hockings/Radnedge is silent on the captain, while both the IFFHS and Mourant/Rollin say it was Harry B. Daft.  The F.A. lists Daft as a captain in 1892 and only 1892, and it is settled that Arthur T. B. Dunn was captain in the two other matches England played that year.  We have therefore gone for Daft, but, again, the matter is not free of doubt because Cris Freddi's extensive research has failed to turn up a single contemporaneous record of England's captain for the match and he has questioned whether Daft was in fact the captain.  This is another of the three instances in the 1890's in which England fielded separate sides against Wales and Ireland on the same day.

*Match No. 51, 12 March 1894, Wales 1 England 5 - Mourant/Rollin has Robert C. Gosling as captain, Hockings/Radnedge is silent, and the IFFHS has Charles Wreford-Brown.  The F.A. lists Wreford-Brown as serving as captain in 1894, but does not list Gosling as captain in any year.  That is decisive for us, particularly since it is settled that John Goodall and Robert Holmes were the captains for the only other matches in 1894.

*Match No. 55, 6 April 1895, England 3 Scotland 0 - Mourant/Rollin and Hockings/Radnedge say Robert C. Gosling was captain, and the IFFHS says it was John Goodall.  The F.A. list does not mention Gosling as captain in any year,  but it does say Goodall served as captain in 1895.  Since it is settled that Robert Holmes and Charles Wreford-Brown were the captains for the only other matches in 1895, we are satisfied that Goodall was captain for this match.

*Match No. 56, 7 March 1896, Ireland 0 England 2 - Hockings/Radnedge has George B. Raikes as captain, but both Mourant/Rollin and the IFFHS have Gilbert O. Smith.  The F.A. list does not mention Raikes as captain for any year, but it does say Smith was captain in 1896, although not too much should be read into that latter fact because Smith indisputably captained the side in two other matches in 1896.  Raikes was never an England captain, and so we accept Smith as captain for this match as well.

*Match No. 64, 2 April 1898, Scotland 1 England 3 - Hockings/Radnedge and Mourant/Rollin have Charles Wreford-Brown as captain, while the IFFHS has Gilbert O. Smith.  The F.A. list says Wreford-Brown last served as captain in 1895, three years before this match, while the years it has for Smith's first and last matches as captain, 1896 and 1901, fall either side of the year of this match.  More convincing, the pre-eminent Scottish source, Alan Brown's Scottish Football Data Services website, also says Smith captained England in this match. 

*Match No. 82, 9 April 1904, Scotland 0 England 1 - Hockings/Radnedge has Stanley S. Harris as captain, while both Mourant/Rollin and the IFFHS both have Robert Crompton.  The F.A. list says Harris did not first serve as captain until the next year, 1905, while the years it has for Crompton's first and last matches as captain, 1903 and 1914, embrace the year of this match.  Furthermore, Alan Brown's authoritative Scottish Football Data Services website also says Crompton captained England in this match. 

*Match No. 109, 13 March 1911, England 3 Wales 0 - Hockings/Radnedge has Robert Crompton as captain, while Mourant/Rollin and the IFFHS both have Vivian J. Woodward.  The F.A. list says that Woodward last served as captain in 1911, and this is the only 1911 match in which he could conceivably have served as captain, since it is indisputable that Crompton was captain in the other two matches played that year.  

*Match No. 134, 10 May 1923, France 1 England 4 - The IFFHS has Frederick N. Creek as captain, while both Hockings/Radnedge and Mourant/Rollin have Charles Buchan.  The F.A. list does not mention Creek as captain in any year, but it does say Buchan last served as captain in 1923, and since it is settled that the captains in other matches played that year were players other than Buchan, we are satisfied he was captain in this match.

*Match No. 171, 10 May 1930, Germany 3 England 3 - The IFFHS has F. Roy Goodall as captain, while both Hockings/Radnedge and Mourant/Rollin have David B. N. Jack.  The F.A. list does not resolve this dispute.  A contemporaneous match report from The Observer refers to Jack as the captain.  Moreover, a match summary prepared by the Association of Football Statisticians, the scholarly football history organisation based in England, lists Jack as captain.  We believe Jack was the captain.

*Match No. 172, 14 May 1930, Austria 0 England 0 - As in the match against Germany, which immediately preceded this match, the IFFHS has F. Roy Goodall as captain, while both Hockings/Radnedge and Mourant/Rollin have David B. N. Jack.  The F.A. list does not resolve this dispute.  Because the IFFHS was wrong about the captain for the Germany match and because it was usual that the same player remained captain throughout a Continental European tour, we believe Jack was the captain.

*Match No. 177, 16 May 1931, Belgium 1 England 4 - The IFFHS has F. Roy Goodall as captain while both Hockings/Radnedge and Mourant/Rollin have Alfred H. Strange.  The F.A. list does not resolve this dispute.  We have decided on Strange, although we are not entirely free of doubt.  The F.A. list says Strange served as captain only in 1931, we have another source--an old list of England pre-war captains from the defunct England team website of sponsor Green Flag--which says Strange served as captain in three matches, and this one would have to be included to give him three captaincies in 1931. 

*Match No. 226, 24 May 1939, Romania 0 England 2 - The IFFHS has George C. Male as captain, while both Hockings/Radnedge and Mourant/Rollin have Stanley Cullis.  The F.A. list has Cullis serving as captain in 1939, and since it is settled that Edris A. Hapgood was captain for the other three matches played that year, Cullis must have been captain for this match.  Moreover, the F.A. list has Male last serving as captain in 1937, two years before this match.  Finally, the IFFHS nowhere lists Cullis as an England captain, and yet the English football literature is littered with references to Cullis as an England captain.

The Disputed Post-World War II Captaincies

*Match No. 441, 21 April 1970, England 3 Northern Ireland 1 - Who could forget the night Bobby Charlton led the team out at Wembley as captain when he became the second England player to earn 100 caps?  Football Association yearbooks from the 1980s and 1990s credit Bobby Moore with captaining England that night, but the F.A. yearbooks from the 1970s and other sources--Payne, Hockings/Radnedge and Mourant/Rollin--give proper due to Charlton.  Apparently, admiration for Moore led to an outburst of historical revisionism which gave him the additional captaincy he needed to become the leader in captaincies with 91, one more than Billy Wright's 90.  Much as some of Moore's admirers might wish otherwise, Charlton was not merely an honourary or ceremonial captain the night of his 100th cap, and Moore remains level with Wright as the leader in captaincies with 90, which is still the world record.

Match No. 668, 6 February 1991, England 2 Cameroon 0, and Match No. 669, 27 March 1991, England 1 Republic of Ireland 1 -  For some time the F.A. yearbooks indicated that Bryan Robson captained England in these two successive matches at Wembley, and authoritative works on the England team--Payne, Hockings/Radnedge and Mourant--agree.  More recent F.A. yearbooks, however, have credited Gary Lineker with captaining England in those two matches.  Robson, who had served as England's regular captain until he was injured at the World Cup 1990 final tournament in Italy, was returning after a long absence, and Lineker had taken over as captain for the three matches played while Robson was out.  Initially, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, we presumed the F.A. had corrected what were mistakes in its earlier yearbooks, and that the other works had picked up the mistakes.  Now, however, we have consulted contemporaneous reports from the London Times which show that manager Graham Taylor gave the captaincy back to Robson for these two matches, a decision which was greeted with a great deal of criticism on the grounds it destroyed continuity on the team and might undermine Lineker's morale.  We have thus credited Lineker with 18 captaincies instead of 20 and Robson with 65 rather than 63.   

Match No. 739, 11 October 1997, Italy 0 England 0 - Who could ever forget Paul Ince--his head swathed in bandaging, his shirt bloodied but his captain's armband still firmly in place--directing his team against Italy in Rome on October 11, 1997 in the scorelsess draw that gave England first place in their World Cup 1998 qualifying group and relegated Italy to qualification play-off as a second place team? Recent F.A. yearbooks credit Tony Adams with captaining England that night, and Mourant/Rollin picks up that mistake.  It is an assertion belied by photographic evidence (right) as well as contemporary match reports, and it is one Adams certainly does not make, as shown by the list in his fine autobiography, Addicted (1998), of England matches in which he served as captain.

PY