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17 March 2024
'the pocket Hercules of his day, who used to rush along the wing with his tongue protruding from the
left corner of his mouth...possibly no Sheffielder has earned such fame.'
- JAH Cotton
Billy Mosforth Wednesday FC, Sheffield Albion FC

9 appearances, 3 goals

P 9 W 3 D 0 L 6 F 21: A 33
33% successful


captain: none
minutes played:


Pic courtesy of SFA museum William Mosforth
Birth Saturday, 2 January 1858 in Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire
registered in Sheffield January-March 1858
  According to the 1861 census, William is the oldest of two children to James and Emily (née Stafford). They live at 65 Brightmore Street in Sheffield. His father is warehouse man.
Wm. is also stated as being on the census return of his grandfather, Henry Stafford, and his wife Elizabeth and their three children. They live in the west side of Crookes.
  According to the 1871 census, William now has two more younger siblings, and with their parents, they now live at The Portobello Tavern at 248 Portobello Street in Sheffield where his father is the publican.
220 YARDS FLAT RACE.―1st prize, gold medal, 2nd, silver medal; 3rd, silver pencil case. First heat―Wm. Mosforth, Albion F.C. Sheffield, 8 yards 1st; Frank Huth, H.C. and A.C. scratch, 2nd; W,. Poppleton, D.U.C.C.C. 14; A. Maynard, Cliffe Wood C.C. 12. Mosforth won a splendid race by barely two yards. Time 24¾secs....Final Heat: 1st, R. Hanson, Rochdale; 2nd. William Mosforth, Sheffield; 3rd, A.B. Robinson, Wakefield. The run off for this race proved a very exciting contest, and the winner only secured the prize by a few inches, the remainder being closed upon the second man. Time 24 4.5 seconds." - The Huddersfield Chronicle, Monday, 16 July 1877
  (His father died in early 1878)
According to the 1881 census, William is a Publican at the Royal Oak, 29 King Street in Sheffield. He has Isaac and Ellen Reed, a fishmonger and his wife, and their baby, living with him. He has one servant.
His widowed mother remains the publican at The Portobello Tavern.
"At the Sheffield Town Hall, on Wednesday, before W. G. Blake and R. Leader, Esqrs., a case of some local interest was heard. The defendant was William Mosforth, the well-known football player, landlord of the Royal Oak, King Street, and the complainant Mrs. Clara Wilson, a widow, living in Hounsfield road, who alleged that she was in fear of personal violence from him. Mr. Fairburn appeared for the complainant, and Mr. W. E. Clegg for the defendant.―At the outset of the case, Mr. Fairburn said his client had no desire to press the case against the defendant, if he would make a suitable apology and undertake to keep away from her house.―Mr. Clegg replied that the defendant was quite willing to promise to keep away from the house, for he had no desire to continue the intimacy; but he objected to make an apology.―The case thereupon proceeded. The intimacy between the parties began in the early part of last year. Mrs. Wilson alleged that she had lent the defendant several sums of money, amounting in the whole to about
£120; that he had wanted more, which she refused to give him; whereupon he said, if she had no money, she was no good to him; that he had gone to her house at various times, and insisted on stopping there in defiance of her wish that he would go away. On Wednesday, the 14th inst., he went to her house while she was out. When she came back she requested him to leave, but he said he should go when he liked. He subsequently had tea there, as she could not get rid of him she agreed to go to the theatre with him. As she would not walk through the streets with him they took a cab. At the theatre she desired him to remove away from her, and he did so. When they got outside she managed to escape from him, but he overtook her, and threatened to use personal violence, saying he would smash in her face. She again succeeded in getting away, but he followed her, and made use of a similar threat. He afterwards forced himself into her house and stayed there all night, sleeping on the sofa. He also remained there the whole of the next day though she would not speak to him, and on the following morning whilst she was in bed he got his breakfast with the servant. He also had his dinner in the house although she had not asked him to stay, and he remained until seven o'clock in the evening, when he went away. She did not apply for a summons upon either that day or the next. On Saturday morning before she got up the defendant again visited her house, and carried away a clock which she said he had presented to her some months before. Her testimony was supported by her servant, and by a policeman who had since been called in. Mr. Clegg's cross-examination was directed towards showing there had been a courtship between the parties, that Mosforth had not obtruded himself into Mrs. Wilson's house against her will, but that she had been variable, sometimes wanting him to come, and at other times to stay away. He disputed her statement about the loan of money, and strongly argued that she could not have been in bodily fear of the defendant, since she did not take out a summons until two days after the threats had been used. His version of the ownership of the clock was that the defendant had simply deposited it in her house, and that therefore he had a right to take it away when he pleased.―The Bench ordered the defendant to enter into his own recognisances in £20 to keep the peace towards Mrs. Wilson."
- Sheffield Independent, Saturday, 24 June 1882
renamed himself as James William Mosforth, c.1891
  According to the 1891 census, James William is living his widowed mother at The Portobello Tavern, along with his younger sister Emily. His mother is the licensed victualler, whereas William is now an engraver.
(His mother died shortly after this census return)
According to the 1893 Kelly's Directory of Leeds, William is in charge of the Portobello Tavern.
Marriage to Viviana Beard, in early 1901, in Sheffield
registered in Sheffield January-March 1901
  According to the 1901 census, James William is now married to Viviana. He is now the licensed victualler of the The Portobello Tavern.
"THE BARNSLEY RAID. Sheffield Publican Convicted and Fined. SUGGESTION OF BRIBERY.
"Two further cases arising from the raid at the Queen's Grounds, Barnsley, on the 13th June were heard by Alderman Brady, Mr. J. H. Bailey, and Mr. F. Brown at Barnsley to-day. The defendants were Samuel Banner, innkeeper, Platts Common, and [James] William Mosforth, landlord of the Portobello Tavern, Sheffield, and the cases were taken separately, Mr. A. Neal defending.
"In regard to the charge against Mosforth, the Chief Constable (Mr. Butler) said when the case was before the Court before, he said the defendant would probably have another charge preferred against him. Probably the justices would wonder why he was not proceeding on the second charge that day. It would have been brought then, but he had not yet received the necessary authority of charging him with bribery at present. P.c.'s Betts and Farmer gave similar evidence, stating that they saw the defendant near the gaming ring. He was arrested as the men were breaking away. The officer Betts stated on the way to the police station that defendant lighted a cigar and then slipped a sovereign into his hand, remarking, 'Is that any use to you?' Defended then suggested he should let him go away. Mr. Neal submitted there was no case to answer, and with respect to the other suggested charge be hoped it would not be proceeded with. The defendant he said was a well-known old International footballer and had been a licence holder in Sheffield for 16 years. He denied that he took any part in the gaming, and went to the grounds to see a man named Winter when the raid took place, and he was arrested.
"Defendant gave evidence, denying that he was gaming, and regarding the sovereign incident, he stated he gave the officer the coin as security that he would not attempt to run away if he was not handcuffed. By the Chief Constable: He had been at the grounds before on the occasion of a pigeon shooting match, and he then saw Winter there, and he thought he might be there again. John Casey, of Apple Street, Sheffield, one of the defendants convicted for gaming, denied that the defendant was concerned in the gaming; and George Jackson, doorkeeper at the Alexandra Club, Barnsley, stated defendant called there on the afternoon inquiring for Winter, and he suggested he might find him at the Queen's Grounds. By the Chief Constable: Witness said it was a blank day that day, there was no racing, and he thought he might be at the grounds. Mr. Neal: Winter is a betting man?―Witness: Yes. And you thought he might have gone to the grounds?―Yes, I told him to try the Queen's Grounds.
"The Chairman said they were unanimous. This case they thought was on different lines to the last, and defendant would be fined 40s. and costs. Mr. Neal gave notice of appeal, and sureties were fixed of £25 for the defendant himself and another of £25."
- Sheffield Evening Telegraph, Thursday, 30 June 1910
  According to the 1911 census, James William is still married and still the licensed victualler of The Portobello Tavern, they have one servant.
According to the 1919 White's Directory of Leeds, William is still in charge of the Portobello Tavern.
  According to the 1921 census, James William is still married and is still the licensed victualler of The Portobello Tavern. They have adopted their only servant's (Nelly) younger sister, Mary Gaffey, now aged 11 years.
"....A second raid was also mentioned, the licensed house in this case being the Portobello Tavern, Portobello Street, and as a result the licensee, James William Mosforth, aged 64, appeared before the Bench. Inspector Plant stated the licensed house was raided on Saturday. He found betting slips relating to horses running on Saturday, and a large sum of money. There were also a number of people on the premises with sporting papers in their possession. Defendant was also remanded on bail pending the issue of a summons."
- Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Tuesday, 19 September 1922

"POLICEMAN'S BETS.―Sheffield Licensee Heavily Fined.
"The solicitors' desk and the magistrates clerks' unused in the Sheffield City Police Court, were yesterday littered with betting slips, racing accounts, and a miscellaneous assortment of sporting papers―the results of a police raid on the Portobello Tavern, Leavygreave, Sheffield.
"A well-known Sheffield ex-international footballer, Thomas William Mosforth, licensee of the Portobello Tavern, was summoned together with his wife, Viviana Mosforth 'for certain alleged offences under the Betting Act,'. Harry Mears, joiner, of 36, Leavygreave, and George Thynne, painter, of 398, Windmill Lane, Sheffield, were charged with aiding and abetting.
"Mr. A. W. Forsdike, for the prosecution, said that the police observations were kept on the premises on dates commencing from Tuesday, August 29th. Police-constable Dooley, together with Police-constable Holmes, entered the premises on that day, and saw the landlord in the kitchen with a notebook in his hand. There were several men in the room; and the officer heard one of them mention the name of a horse, and the landlord wrote something in his book. The officer then made a bet with Mosforth and handed a slip of paper and money to him. On another occasion the officer saw a man hand a slip of paper to the landlord after consulting a sporting paper.
"The officer again visited the premises on a date when the landlord had gone to the races. One man gave a slip of paper and money to Mrs. Mosforth and at the same time said to her 'Here missus! give it to him when he returns.' Apparently the landlady was suspicious because she took no notice of the man's remark. She went into the bar and motioned the man who was sitting near the officer in the kitchen. The man went out, and the officer saw the landlady take the slip from him. On September 12th the police raided the premises.
"Police-constable Dooley giving evidence said that on the 29th August he gave Mrs. Mosforth a slip of paper with 3s. to be put on 'Black Gown' and 'Christiana.' The following day Mrs. Mosforth said to him, 'How did your horse go on yesterday?' Witness said, 'I have 3s. to draw,' and she handed the money to him. On another occasion witness put 1s. each way on 'Surcoat.' Mosforth put the slip and money in his right-hand jacket pocket.
"Police-constable Taylor said that on one occasion he was on the premises when a man came in and said to Mrs. Mosforth, 'Here, missus! I;m in a hurry. I have to attend a funeral,' at the same time handing to her a slip of paper and some money.
"Inspector John W. Plant, who conducted the raid, told the Bench that the defendant Mosforth, when searched, had in his possession £4 11s. 9d. in silver, 16 slips of paper with names of horses in different handwriting, £19 in pound notes, £30 in £5 notes, a large quantity of additional slips relating to horses running on that day and other days, and several betting accounts. In an upstairs room, evidently used by the defendant as an office, was a roll-top desk, and the contents of this included 246 slips of paper, three betting books, 35 betting accounts, £6 16s. 6d. in silver, and £67 in notes. The number of slips totalled 348, relating to money bets amounting to £129 7s. 9d.
"Mears and Thynne were in possession of betting slips, and they were charged with aiding and abetting the defendant Mosforth.
"Mosforth when charged, said: 'It is all done by telephone.'
"Defendant, in the witness box, said that he certainly did conduct a betting business, but this was on a credit system only, and was conducted by telephone. The bets were received by telephone and the money was collected later. Defendant denied that he took bets personally on the premises except by telephone, and the large amount of money he had on him when searched was to pay private accounts connected with the public house.
"Viviania Mosforth, wife of William Mosforth, admitted giving 3s, to the officer, but denied that she had any idea that the money was winnings on a horse run the previous day.
"Robert Farr said he worked with Mosforth in collecting slips from customers. These slips were then handed to the defendant Mosforth.
"The Bench (Mr. C. J. Whitehead and Sir W. H. Hadow) bound Mears and Thynne over in the sum of £5 to discontinue the haunting of betting premises. Mrs. Mosforth was fined £5, and in the case of the defendant Mosforth, they were of the opinion that a serious breach of the law had been committed, and he would be fined £75."

- Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Tuesday, 17 October 1922
"The following transfer [was] refused on the ground that the renewal of the licences will be opposed at the Brewster Sessions to be held in February:―Portobello Tavern, Portobello Street, from James William Mosforth to William Henry Hardy. The Brewster Sessions will be held in Sheffield on February 7th, 1923."
- Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Thursday, 7 December 1922
"At the Sheffield Licensing Sessions, yesterday, Sir William Clegg, who presided, said, after two cases where transfers were refused, that the magistrates were not at all satisfied with the so-called supervision, which had proved quite ineffective. It was no part of their duty to make suggestions as to how it could be made more effective. That must rest with the owners. Mr. J. E. Wing, on behalf of Messrs. Tennants Ltd., said that James William Mosforth had been proceeded against for taking bets in the house, but action was taken under the Betting Act and not the Licensing Act to get a heavier penalty, and he contended that therefore there was nothing against the house and the transfer should be granted. They had as inspector, Mr. Dakin, a former police superintendent, who visited the premises from time to time. He had never seen any betting, and did not know there was a telephone was upstairs and not in the ordinary rooms.
"The former tenant, James William Mosforth, denied on oath that he took bets from constables, despite what they had said. Mr. Dakin said his present duties included the inspection of the houses of Messrs. Tennant. He frequently went to the Portobello Tavern, but never saw any betting nor did he know there was a telephone until after the case against Mosforth. Replying to questions by Sir William he said that though he knew betting was done by telephone he did not ask Mosforth if he had a telephone. It was not usual to do so, for they had 300 tenants. He knew Mosforth well, and suspected he was a betting man, but not on the premises.
"Sir William Clegg: Where then? Witness: At a club in Sycamore Street. How long had it gone on there?―Ever since the Garrick was closed. Did you report it to the Chief Constable?―I don't remember. Do you agree it is a proper thing for a publican to be a betting man?―No, sir. Then why did you not report to the Chief Constable?―I don't know that I did not. But such a report would be in writing?―Not always. I should not report on suspicions, only when I was sure of my ground. I did not think he was betting in the house.
"Mr. A. W. Forsdike, opposing the transfer, said that documents found in the house showed that the betting business had been extensive, and that profits amounted to about £20 per day. It there was racing five days per week, that would mean a profit of about £5,000 per year. Sir William said that the magistrates had decided to refuse the application. Mr. Wing gave notice of appeal, and suggested he could put Mosforth back, but that there were other ways of meeting the difficulty. Sir William said that the magistrates would assist the owners as far as possible and that the suggestion would be in order, so long as the house conducted satisfactorily."
- Sheffield Daily Independent, Thursday, 25 January 1923
Death early Thursday morning, 11 July 1929 at the Sheffield Union Hospital on Herries Road (Firvale Infirmary), West Riding of Yorkshire
aged 71 years 190 days registered in Sheffield July-September 1929
"MOSFORTH―On July 11th, William ('Billy'), the beloved husband of Viviana Mosforth, of 4, St. George's Terrace, after a short illness, aged 72. Internment, Crookes Cemetery, to-day (Monday), 11.30 a.m." - Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Monday, 15 July 1929.


The gravestone of Billy Mosforth"DEATH OF WILLIAM MOSFORTH
"The death occurred in hospital at Sheffield early today of William Mosforth, who by many authorities was considered to be the finest outside left England has ever produced.
"Born in Sheffield in 1858, Mosforth before reaching the age of 20, was a great personality in Sheffield and International sport. He played regularly for Sheffield's representative eleven for many years and first appeared in an International match for England in 1877, when only 19 years old. His last season as an International was in 1882 and altogether he was capped for his country on nine occasions―five against Scotland, four against Wales.
"He reached the zenith of his career in April, 1879, when Scotland were beaten by five goals to four at the Oval. On that occasion he gave a brilliant display and was carried shoulder high by the spectators to the dressing-room."
- Sunderland Daily Echo & Shipping Gazette, Thursday, 11 July 1929.

"FUNERAL OF MR. MOSFORTH. Old Sheffield and International Footballer.
"Playing contemporaries of the late Mr. William Mosforth were among the many sportsmen present at Crookes Cemetery, Sheffield, yesterday, when the famous Wednesday and England forward was laid to rest. The service was conducted by the Rev. T. Crowther Makinson (Vicar of St. Timothy's)."

- Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Friday, 12 July 1929/Tuesday, 16 July 1929.
  Viviana Mosforth died on 28 May 1938.
Source Douglas Lammings' An English Football Internationalist Who's Who [1990], Alan Alcott &
Playing Career
Club(s) Assisted three Sheffield clubs, Hallam FC, Heeley FC and Providence FC, before joining Wednesday FC from Ecclesfield FC. His next club was Sheffield Albion FC in 1878. Played for Wednesday between December 1880 and January 1888; played for Sheffield Rovers FC, a team he help found in 1886, after Wednesday failed to apply to enter that seasons FA Cup. He then helped Sheffield United FC in its conception era of 1889, ending the season, and his career, with a knee injury;
Club honours None
Individual honours Sheffield FA and a touring side called The Zulu's.
Height/Weight 5' 4", ?st. ?lbs [nk].
Source Douglas Lammings' An English Football Internationalist Who's Who [1990].
England Career
Player number One of seven who became the 43rd players (47) to appear for England.
Position(s) Outside-left
First match No. 6, 3 March 1877, England 1 Scotland 3, a friendly match at The Surrey Cricket Ground, The Oval, Kennington, London, aged 19 years 60 days.
Last match No. 16, 13 March 1882, Wales 5 England 3, a friendly match at The Racecourse, Mold Road, Wrexham, aged 24 years 70 days. 25 min
Individual honours The Whites (one appearance, February 1879);
The North
(four appearances, 1ᵍ March 1880 to January 1883).
Records Youngest England Player between 1877 and 1879;
Distinctions Billy was the first England player to make five, then six, then seven consecutive appearances, and therefore, held the record number of England appearances 1880-83;
One of two players who became the first to score in two England matches.
Beyond England
The 1881 census reveals that Mosforth was a publican in Sheffield. In fact, Kelly's Directory of Leeds reveals that from 1893 until at least 1919, he was running the Portabello Tavern in Sheffield. - Ancestry.com

The Numbers
parties Appearances minutes Goals ave.min captain
11 9 780 3 260 min none
The minutes here given can only ever be a guideline and cannot therefore be accurate, only an approximation.
9 3 0 6 21 33 -12 1 0 2.33 3.67 33.3 -3
All of his matches were friendly matches

Match Record

Venue P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
Home 4 2 0 2 8 9 -1 1 0 2.00 2.25 50.0 =0
Away 5 1 0 4 13 24 -11 0 0 2.60 4.80 20.0 -3

Match History
 Club: Wednesday F.C. - one full appearance (90 min) F.A. Committee - nine full appearances (780 min) 3ᵍx

apps match match details comp res. rundown pos

Age 19
1 6 3 March 1877 - England 1 Scotland 3
The Surrey Cricket Ground, Kennington
Fr HL   ol

one of seven who became the 43rd (48) players to appear for England
the third player from Wednesday club to represent England
the youngest player to represent England - until 1879

 Club: Sheffield Albion F.C. - five full appearance (420 min)  

Age 20
2 7 2 March 1878 - Scotland 7 England 2
Hampden Park, Glasgow
Fr AL   ol

one of two players (two) who became the first from Sheffield Albion FC to represent England

Age 21
3 8 18 January 1879 - England 2 Wales 1
The Surrey Cricket Ground, Kennington
Fr HW match lasted sixty minutes ol

one appearance - The Whites vs. The Stripes, 26 February 1879

pp 1 March 1879 - England vs. Scotland, Surrey Cricket Ground, Kennington Fr postponed - frost ol
4 9 5 April 1879 - England 5 Scotland 4
The Surrey Cricket Ground, Kennington
Fr HW 9 shot ol

one of three who became the first players to appear for England twice in one season
the fourth player to make four England appearances
the third player to make four consecutive England appearances
his goal in his fourth match makes him the most experienced player to score for England so far

Age 22 trial  
one appearance - The South vs. The North, 6 March 1880

5 10 13 March 1880 - Scotland 5 England 4
Hampden Park, Glasgow
Fr AL 6 smart shot ol

the first player to make five consecutive England appearances
the second player to make five England appearances
his goal in his fifth match makes him the most experienced player to score for England so far
the first player to score in two England matches
the first England player to score an equalising goal ~ although it is England's second

6 11 15 March 1880 - Wales 2 England 3
The Racecourse, Wrexham
Fr AW   ol

the first England player to make six appearances - a new record number of appearances
the first player to make six consecutive England appearances

 Club: Wednesday F.C. - three full appearances (270 min)

Age 23 trial  
one appearance - The North vs. The South, 19 February 1881

7 12 26 February 1881 - England 0 Wales 1
East Lancashire Cricket Club, Blackburn
Fr HL   ol

the first England player to make seven appearances - a new record number of appearances
the first player to make seven consecutive England appearances

13 12 March 1881 - England 1 Scotland 6, The Surrey Cricket Ground, Kennington Fr HL reserve

Age 24 trial  
one appearance - The South vs. The North, 28 January 1882

14 18 February 1882 - Ireland 0 England 13, Knock Ground, Belfast Fr AW reserve
8 15 11 March 1882 - Scotland 5 England 1
Hampden Park, Glasgow
Fr AL   ol

the first England player to make eight appearances - a new record number of appearances

9 16 13 March 1882 - Wales 5 England 3
The Racecourse, Wrexham
Fr AL 25 rebound ol

the first England player to make nine appearances - a new record number of appearances
his goal in his ninth match makes him the most experienced player to score for England so far
the second player to score in three England matches

Age 25 trial  
one appearance - The North vs. The South, January 1883

held the position of record appearance holder until 1883