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Players Index Page Last Updated
31 August 2023

Rab Howell

Sheffield United AFC, Liverpool FC

2 appearances, 1 goal on debut

P 2 W 2 D 0 L 0 F 11: A 1
100% successful


captain: none
minutes played:


  Rabbi Howell
Birth Saturday, 12 October 1867, in a romani tent in Dore, Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire
  registered in Ecclesall Bierlow October-December 1867.

According to the 1871 census, Rabbi is the sixth child of eight to Thomas and Elizabeth (née Brown). They are living in Stock's Hill in Ecclesfield. His father is an agricultural labourer. Rabbi's birthplace is stated as Brightside.

"PROSECUTIONS UNDER THE EDUCATION ACT. —Thomas Howell, a labourer, living at Ecclesfield, was summoned at the instance of the School Attendance Committee of the Wortley Union, to show cause why he should not send his child to school. Mr. Dransfield, solicitor, Penistone, appeared in support of the information, and read the section under which it was laid. He stated that under one of the sections of the Act, the guardians were compelled to appoint a school attendance committee, and that committee had appointed Mr. John Holmes as the school attendance officer. With respect to the case of the defendant, Mr. Holmes had consulted the census which had been made of the children in the district, and found that Rabbi Howell, 10 years of age, the son of the defendant, was not attending school. A notice to attend was served upon the defendant, but the boy had not yet complied.—The defendant's wife, who appeared, stated that she was unable to pay the boy's school pence.—The Bench told her to communicate with the guardians and the fees would be paid. An order to attend Feoffees School at Ecclesfield and to pay the costs was made." - The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent, Wednesday, 5 June 1878

According to the 1881 census, Raby is a scholar and has another sister. He is one of five children remaining with their parents in Ecclesfield. His father is a general labourer.

Marriage to Selina Smith, on 25 February 1888, at All Saints' Church in Sheffield, West Riding.
  registered as Rabbi, in Sheffield January-March 1888.
Children Rab and Selina Howell had five children together. Elizabeth (b.1888), Selina (b.1892), Thomas (b.1894), Rabbi (b.16 May 1895) and Edith (b.3 April 1898).

According to the 1891 census, Rabi is married to Selina, with one daughter, Elizabeth. He is a coal miner and they live at the back of 147 Dunlop Street, in Attercliffe cum Darnell, in the Carbrook area of Sheffield.
(Their son, Thomas, will die in 1896, aged about two years)

"NOTICE,— I, RABBI HOWELL, Professional Footballer, of 33, Manor, Sheffield, WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE for any DENT or DEBTS my Wife, SELINA HOWELL, of 18, Newark Street, may contract after this date.—Signed, June 25, 1898 RABBI HOWELL"." - The Sheffield Daily Post Front Page, Monday, 27 June 1898
Second partner to Ada McGrail, who he left Selina for in 1898, but no evidence of a marriage took place
Children Rab Howell and Ada McGrail had six children together. Leo (b.5 February 1900), Maoyle (b.1902), Madge (b.1903), James Joseph (b.13 August 1906), Maria (b.27 August 1908) and Percy Vincent (b.1910)

According to the 1901 census, Selina, who is still stated as being married, is living with her father Dennis Smith at 16 Newark Street in Attercliffe cum Darnell. Rabi has three more children, Selina, Rabbi and Edith.
Rabbi, however, is now residing with Ada with one son, fourteen month old Leo, and living at 3 Lilian Road in Liverpool, where he plys his trade as a professional football player.

To be Sold by Auction, by
MESSRS. J. B. JONES and SONS at the COMMERCIAL SALESROOMS, CHURCH-STREET, PRESTON, on THURSDAY NIGHT, 15th November, 1906, at 7 30 o'clock,—
"Lot 2. The FRUITERER'S SHOP, with Dwelling Convenience, Nod. 27, PARADISE_STREET (adjoining Lot 1), tenanted by Rabbi Howell, together with a portion of adjoining PLOT of LAND behind, used as part of a Yard and Cart Store." - The Preston Herald, Saturday, 10 November 1906.

(His daughter with Selina, named Selina, died in 1910, aged about 18 years)
According to the 1911 census, Rabbi has retired and is now a small shopkeeper along with Ada, who also works at the shop. They have four more children, Madge, James Joseph, Maria and Percy Vincent. They live at 27 Paradise Street in Preston. The census reveals that they had ten children altogether, and that five had tragically died in childhood.
(his mother died during the 1913 summer, and his father died at the beginning of 1918, both in Chapeltown)
The 1917 & !924 General & Commercial Directory of Preston places Howell at 27 Paradise Street and is a greengrocer.

According to the 1921 census, Rabbi, now a labourer, still with Ada and four of his children. They still live at 27 Paradise Street in Preston.

Death Wednesday morning, 21 July 1937, at his home at 27 Paradise Street, Preston, Lancashire
"at about Christmas he became practically blind."
aged 69 years 282 days registered in Preston July-September 1937.
"HOWELL.—On the 21st., at 27, Paradise-street, Preston, RABBI (RAB HOWELL, ex-North End), aged 69 years. 'May He Rest in Peace.'" - The Lancashire Daily Post, Wednesday, 21 July 1937


'RAB' HOWELL, one of Sheffield United's famous midget half-back line of over 30 years ago, died in Preston this morning. There was probably no more effective trio in the game than Howell, Morren and Needham—and the tallest was only 5ft. 5in. All three were internationals and for a umber of years, up to 1898, they were the chief strength of the Sheffield United side, which subsequently won the F.A. Cup. After he dropped out of the team to be replaced by Harry Johnson, Howell joined Liverpool, and subsequently played for Preston North End. He had not been at Deepdale very long when he sustained a fracture of the leg, which brought his football career to a close. Howell's physique was always slight, almost frail, but his stamina was remarkable. He was capped for England against Scotland, in 1899, and against Ireland while playing with Sheffield United. Howell had been in poor health recently, and about Christmas he became practically blind. His interest in football was, however, maintained to the last, and members of his family made a practice of reading the sporting news to him each night. Since giving up football, Howell had worked as a general labourer and night watchman. He retired about six years ago.
Death took place this morning at his home, 27, Paradise-street, Preston. He was 69 years of age."
The Lancashire Daily Post, Wednesday, 21 July 1937
"HOWELL.—The FAMILY of the late RABBI HOWELL desire to Thank all friends and Neighbours for sympathy and floral tributes, Sister Thomas of Moorfields, and the Clergy of St. Augustine's, for their untiring services previous to and during their sad bereavement.—27, Paradise-street." - The Lancashire Daily Post, Monday, 26 July 1937
Funeral Buried in Preston Old Cemetery (left).
  His first wife, Selina Howell, died in 1955


Douglas Lammings' An English Football Internationalist Who's Who [1990], Chris Hobbs/Steven Kay &
Biographies The Evergreen in Red and White - Steven Kay (Fastprint Publishing, 15 January 2014)

Playing Career

Began his football career with Ecclesfield, before joining Rotherham Swifts FC as a professional in 1889. He was soon spotted by Sheffield United FC in the summer of 1890 and joined their ranks. Howell then joined Liverpool FC on 6 April 1898 for 'considerably more than £100', and then Preston North End FC on 31 May 1901, before retiring following a leg break on 26 September 1903, his final ever league game.
"The benefit match for Rab Howell, who had his leg broken in the game with Burnley a little over twelve months ago, was played at Deepdale on Monday, when Liverpool sent over a representative team to battle against a fairly strong North End team. Sheffield United were first invited to send a team, but as they declined Liverpool kindly consented. There were about 15000 spectators and a very pleasant game ended in a a draw of two goals each." -
The Preston herald, Wednesday, 2 November 1904

League History
274 appearances, 7 goals
Sheffield United FC 1892-98 155 appearances, six goals.
debut: 3 September 1892 Sheffield United FC 4 Lincoln City AFC 2.
Liverpool FC 1898-1901 59 appearances
debut: 16 April 1898 Liverpool FC 4 Aston Villal FC 0.
Preston North End FC 1901-04 sixty appearances one goal
debut: 7 September 1901 West Bromwich Albion FC 3 Preston North End FC 1.
last: 26 September 1903 Preston North End FC 2 Burnley FC 0.
Club honours Football League Division Two runners-up 1892-93 (22ᵃ 2ᵍ), third place 1901-02 (26ᵃ 1ᵍ); winners 1903-04 (4ᵃ);
Football League Division One
runners-up 1896-97 (24ᵃ 2ᵍ), 1898-99 (30ᵃ 6ᵍ), Champions 1897-98 (24ᵃ 2ᵍ), 1900-01 (2ᵃ);
Individual honours None
Distinctions None
Height/Weight 5' 5¼", 9st. 8lbs [1896].

England Career

Player number One of four who became 218th players (218) to appear for England.
Position(s) Right-half
First match No. 53, 9 March 1895, England 9 Ireland 0, a British Championship match at Derbyshire County Cricket Ground, Nottingham Road, Derby, aged 27 years 148 days.
Last match No. 67, 8 April 1899, England 2 Scotland 1, a British Championship match at Aston Lower Grounds, Trinity Road, Aston, Birmingham, aged 31 years 178 days.
Major tournaments British Championship 1894-95, 1898-99;
Team honours British Championship winners 1894-95, 1898-99;
Individual honours None
Distinctions The first true gypsy to earn an England appearance, and one of the smallest.

Beyond England

No additional information. His census notes however say that he opened up a shop and further information from his descendants state that it was a greengrocers and that Rab himself made home deliveries with his horse and cart. - An English Football Internationalists' Who's Who. Douglas Lamming (1990). Hatton Press, p.138./FindMyPast.co.uk

The Numbers
parties Appearances comp. apps minutes goals ave.min comp. goals captain
2 2 2 180 1 90 min 1 none
The minutes here given can only ever be a guideline and cannot therefore be accurate, only an approximation.
2 2 0 0 11 1 +10 0 1 5.5 0.5 100 +2
both of his matches were in the British Championship and played at a home venue

Tournament Record

British Championship
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
BC 1894-95 1 1 0 0 9 0 +9 0 1 9.00 0.00 100.0 +1
BC 1898-99 1 1 0 0 2 1 +1 0 0 2.00 1.00 100.0 +1
BC All 2 2 0 0 11 1 +10 0 1 5.50 0.50 100.0 +2

All Competition
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
BC 2 2 0 0 11 1 +10 0 1 5.50 0.50 100.0 +2
2 2 0 0 11 1 +10 0 1 5.5 0.5 100 +2

Match History

 Club: Sheffield United F.C. - one full appearance (90 min) 1ᵍ F.A. International Select Committee - two full appearances (180 min) 1ᵍx

apps match match details comp res. rundown pos

Age 27
1 53 9 March 1895 - England 9 Ireland 0
Derbyshire Cricket Ground, Derby
BC HW 36 shot rh

one of four who became the 218th players (218) to appear for England
the fourth Sheffield United FC player to represent England
the 39th player to score on his England debut - the 23rd competitive

 Club: Liverpool F.C. - one full appearance (90 min)  

Age 31
2 67 8 April 1899 - England 2 Scotland 1
Aston Lower Grounds, Birmingham
BC HW   rh

the third Liverpool FC player to represent England