England Football Online
Goalkeepers Index Page Last Updated
7 November 2022

John Sutcliffe

Bolton Wanderers FC, Millwall Athletic FC

5 appearances, 3 goals against

P 5 W 4 D 1 L 0 F 22: A 3
90% successful


captain: none
minutes played:


  John William Sutcliffe
Birth Sunday, 12 April 1868 in Shibden, Halifax, West Riding of Yorkshire [one of two John William Sutcliffe's registered in Halifax, June 1868]. Birthdate confirmed by 1939 register.

According to the 1871 census, John William is the eldest son to James and Martha. With his younger sister, Ruth, they live at Shrogg's Terrace in Ovenden, Halifax.


According to the 1881 census, John Wm. is the eldest of five children to James and Martha. They live at Northowram in Halifax, and he is a millhand.

"John William Sutcliffe, of Heckmondwike, made the acquaintance of the Dewsbury magistrate last week. It appears that the champion kicker and another man were using 'obscene' language on Sunday, the 3rd inst., and being spoken to by a policeman threatened to knockdown the gentleman in blue. The latter set the machinery of the law in motion, with the result that J.W.S. was fined ten shillings and costs". - The Athletic News, Monday, 18 March 1889.
Marriage to Eliza Ann Seddon [registered in Bolton, December 1890].

According to the 1891 census, John W. is found living with his father in law, and brothers-in-law, the Seddon's, at 217 Bolton Road in Kearsley, Bolton. He is a carter.


"Quite a sensation was caused this morning at Bolton by the arrest of J.W. Sutcliffe, the famous goalkeeper of the Bolton Wanderers, the charge against him being that of assaulting his wife. Sutcliffe is adjudged by many to be the finest custodian in England.
"Our Bolton correspondent says Sutcliffe was arrested by the Bolton County Police, acting under a warrant. He is alleged to have attacked his wife savagely, and will be brought brought before the magistrates to-morrow. The arrest, on becoming known in Bolton, created the greatest excitement and concern amongst the football public, the Wanderers just now being engaged in a series of important cup ties. Wanderers are somewhat in a pickle for a capable substitute. The re-played tie in the English Cup between Grimsby Town and the Wanderers is decided to-morrow at Sheffield, so that Sutcliffe will not be able to officiate between the sticks." - The Daily Mail, Wednesday, 10 February 1897.
"At Bolton County Sessions to-day, J.W. Sutcliffe appeared on a warrant, charged with having committed a serious assault upon his wife on the 7th inst. On the case being called, Mr. Fielding, solicitor, who appeared for the wife, asked for permission to withdraw the case.-The Bench, after some hesitation, granted the application, and Sutcliffe hurried from the court, with a view of catching a train to Sheffield, there to play with his team in the replayed English Cup tie with Grimsby Town".
- The Lancashire Daily Post, Thursday, 11 February 1897.
Bolton Wanderers won the replay 3-2, but lost the next round tie against Derby County played two days later.

According to the 1901 census.  John W. is a professional footballer living with a 23 year old servant, Edith, at 5 Ainscow Street in Bolton. His wife and daughter, Ruth, are living separately at 101 Bury New Road in Bolton.

"J.W. Sutcliffe, the well-known football player, was before the Bolton magistrates yesterday morning charged with wife maintenance arrears, he owing over £30 on a 15s per week order made in 1901. He had not paid anything since last May. He was now with the Plymouth Arygle and got full money. He was ordered to pay £5 on Saturday, and 10s per week towards the arrears." - The Manchester Courier, Tuesday, 9 May 1905

According to the 1911 census, John William, a professional footballer and still married [and still separated], was living on his own with a housekeeper, Eliza Pearce, at 9 Albany Place, Plymouth.

"Making his first appearance on the Beck Lane ground, Heckmondwike, since he gained fame there as a Rugby three-quarter in 1887-8-9, J. W. Sutcliffe, the ex-international goalkeeper, met with an accident on Saturday while acting in the latter capacity for the local club against Scarborough. About ten minutes before the finish he fisted away the heavy, mud-laden ball, and immediately reeled against one of the posts. He was conveyed to the surgery of Dr. Prior, where an examination showed that the right collar bone was dislocated, but that otherwise his injuries were less serious than had been feared. It is hoped that he will be able to resume play in a fortnight." - The Yorkshire Post, Saturday, 3 February 1913.

According to the 1921 census, John William,is now an out-of-work football trainer, still stated as being married but boarding with the Wedgbury family at 60 Royd Street in the Horton area of Bradford.

"Famous 'Rugger' & 'Soccer' Player

"The police are investigating a mysterious assault on Saturday night on an ex-Rugby and Soccer international Mr. John William Sutcliffe, who is living in retirement in Lancaster Road, Torrisholme. Mr. Sutcliffe, who is 67, was walking up the pathway to his home when he was struck a glancing blow on the head. He had five stitches inserted in the wound, and is progressing favourably. His wife stated that she had preceded her husband into the house, and after taking off her coat and hat came outside to find him staggering about. A man with a stick was near hime. She grabbed the stick, but the man said 'Let it go,' and went away. She helped her husband into the house and called for assistance. Mr. Sutcliffe formerly played with Heckmondwike as a Rugby footballer, and later played 'Soccer' with Bolton Wanderers and Plymouth Argyle." - The Northern Daily Mail/Leeds Mercury, Monday, 26 April 1937.
  According to the 1939 register, widowed John W. lives at 25 Whites View in Bradford with various other people, none of which appear to be related.
Death Monday, 7 July 1947, aged 79 years 86 days [registered in Bradford, September 1947].
"One of the few footballers in history to have been 'capped' for England in two separate codes died last week at Bradford. He was 79-years-old John W. Sutcliffe, who, playing for Heckmondwike as an amateur, was selected to play for England against a Maori team. He later adopted the Soccer code, and played as a professional for Bolton Wanderers, Manchester United and Plymouth Argyle in turn." -
Reveille, 22-27 July 1947.


Douglas Lammings' An English Football Internationalist Who's Who [1990] &

Playing Career

Club(s) He started his career playing rugby as a full-back for Kirkstall RFC, Bradford RFC for two seasons and Heckmondwike RFC. He switched codes after he was suspended for professionalism, and he was one of three players to join Bolton Wanderers FC as a forward on 27 September 1889, the others being Jowett and Noble. He made the switch to keeper and eventually became club captain. After failing to agree terms for further service with Bolton, he signed for Millwall Athletic FC on 5 June 1902 for a £400 transfer fee. Joined Manchester United FC in May 1903. Plymouth Argyle FC then signed Sutcliffe in January 1905 and 214 Southern League appearances followed before he signed for Southend United FC for the 1911-12 season. In January 1913, Sutcliffe signed with Heckmondwike. A new version of the Rugby club he played for in 1889.

League History
353 appearances
one expulsion
Bolton Wanderers FC 1889-1902 332 appearances
debut: 7 December 1889 Bolton Wanderers 7 West Bromwich Albion 0.
Manchester United FC 1903-04 21 appearances.
debut: 5 September 1903 Manchester United FC 2 Bristol City FC 2.
last: 26 March 1904 Manchester Uinited FC 2 Grimsby Town FC 0.
Club honours Football League third place 1891-92 (26 apps); Division One fourth place 1895-96 (28); Division Two runners-up (33), third place 1903-04 (21);
FA Cup runners-up 1893-94 (5);
Individual honours Football League (five appearances)
Distinctions Eldest brother of Sheffield United's 1925 FA Cup Final winner, CS Sutcliffe.
Height/Weight 6' 0", 12st. 10lbs [1901].


Douglas Lammings' An English Football Internationalist Who's Who [1990] & ENFA.

England Career

Player number One of four who became the 206th players (206) to appear for England. 23rd goalkeeper to appear for England.
Position(s) Goalkeeper
First match No. 48, 13 March 1893, England 6 Wales 0, a British Championship match at Victoria Park, Boothen, Stoke-on-Trent, aged 24 years 335 days.
Last match No. 85, 2 March 1903, England 2 Wales 1, a British Championship match at Fratton Park, Frogmore Road, Southsea, Portsmouth, aged 34 years 324 days.
Major tournaments British Championship 1892-93, 1894-95, 1900-01, 1902-03;
Team honours British Championship winners 1892-93, 1894-95, 1900-01, shared 1902-03;
Individual honours None
Distinctions The last player to play both Football and Rugby Union (vs. New Zealand 1889) for England.
Sutcliffe set a record of not conceding in his first 318 minutes as an England goalkeeper. The record remained in place until Nick Pope broke it in March 2021.
Died sixteen days after Percy Fairclough.

Beyond England

Coached Arnhem in the Netherlands in 1914, and had a spell as trainer of Bradford City FC from May 1919. - An English Football Internationalists' Who's Who. Douglas Lamming (1990). Hatton Press, p.241.


The Numbers
parties Apps Comp
minutes GA GA Av.
Comp GA Clean
Sht Av
5 5 5 450 3 150 3 3 60% none
minutes are an approximation, due to the fact that many matches rarely stick to exactly ninety minutes long, allowing time for injuries and errors.
5 4 1 0 22 3 +19 0 3 4.40 0.60 90.0 +4

Match Record

Venue & Competition P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts % W/L
Home venue
British Championship
5 4 1 0 22 3 +19 0 3 4.40 0.60 90.0 +4

Tournament Record

British Championship Competition
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
BC 1892-93 1 1 0 0 6 0 +6 0 1 6.00 0.00 100.0 +1
BC 1894-95 2 2 0 0 12 0 +12 0 2 6.00 0.00 100.0 +2
BC 1900-01 1 0 1 0 2 2 =0 0 0 2.00 2.00 50.0 =0
BC 1902-03 1 1 0 0 2 1 +1 0 0 2.00 1.00 100.0 +1
BC All 5 4 1 0 22 3 +19 0 3 4.40 0.60 90.0 +4

All Competition
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
BC 5 4 1 0 22 3 +19 0 3 4.40 0.60 90.0 +4
5 4 1 0 22 3 +19 0 3 4.40 0.60 90.0 +4

Match History

 Club: Bolton Wanderers F.C. - four full appearances (360 min)

F.A. International Select Committee - five full appearances (450 min)x

Age 24
1 48 13 March 1893 - England 6 Wales 0, Victoria Ground, Stoke-upon-Trent BC HW Start gk

Age 26
2 53 9 March 1895 - England 9 Ireland 0, County Ground, Derby BC HW Start gk
3 55 6 April 1895 - England 3 Scotland 0, Goodison Park, Liverpool BC HW Start gk

Age 32
4 73 30 March 1901 - England 2 Scotland 2, Sports Arena, Penge BC HD Start gk

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

Age 34
5 78 2 March 1903 - England 2 Wales 1, Fratton Park, Portsmouth BC HW Start gk