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England Players' Club Affiliations

Most Players from a Single Club in an England Team

The Record:  Arsenal and the Battle of Highbury of 1934

The record is still held by Arsenal, the club side of seven players who lined up for England in the 3-2 friendly match win against reigning World Cup champions Italy at, fittingly enough, Arsenal Stadium in Highbury, London on 14 November 1934.  So unfriendly was the match that it became infamous as "the Battle of Highbury."  

Five Arsenal players were originally selected:  Frank Moss in goal, captain Eddie Hapgood at left back, Wilf Copping at left halfback, Ray Bowden at inside right and Cliff "Boy" Bastin at inside left.  When original choices Tom "Snowy" Cooper, the Derby County right back, and Fred Tilson, the Manchester City centre-forward, were injured the Saturday before the Wednesday Italy encounter, a sixth Arsenal player, right back George Male, and Tottenham Hotspur forward George Hunt were selected to replace them.  Hunt, too, then had to withdraw, and the selectors then turned to a seventh Arsenal player, centre-forward Ted Drake, to replace him.

The record of seven players from one club in a starting England lineup has never been equalled.   The closest any club has come is the six Liverpool players who started in manager Ron Greenwood's first match in charge, the scoreless friendly draw against Switzerland on 7 September 1977.  The six were Ray Clemence, Phil Neal, Terry McDermott, Emlyn Hughes, Ray Kennedy and Ian Callaghan.  Kevin Keegan also started, but he had moved from Liverpool to West Germany's Hamburger over the summer. 

Seven Manchester United players were on the pitch for England for a few minutes at the end of the 3-1 World Cup qualifying win against Albania in Tiranė on 28 March 2001, but two of them came on as substitutes.   The seven were starters Gary Neville, David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Andrew Cole and substitutes Wes Brown, who came on at 29 minutes, and Teddy Sheringham, who arrived at 84 minutes.

The Pretenders:  The Corinthians of the 1880s and 1890s

That occasional fount of misinformation about the England team, the usually interesting and entertaining feature its authors presume to call "The Knowledge," which appears from time to time on the Guardian Football Unlimited website, had this to say on 17 July 2003:


"In last week's knowledge we looked at the highest number of players from a single club in an England starting XI.

"Back then, we thought it was the eight managed by the great Arsenal side of the 1930s. But, as several of you point out, Corinthian Casuals fielded the full England side twice (in 1894 and 1895 against Wales).

"Don't believe us? Then sneak a peek at the Casuals' website"

No, you befuddled, bamboozled beauties, we don't believe you, not even after looking at the Corinthian Casuals' website [now unavailable] you point us to.  The Football Association itself has said Arsenal set the record in the 1934 match against Italy and has dismissed the claim it was set in the 1894 and 1895 matches against Wales.

First, you can't even get right what you wrote in your own column as recently as the week before.  The previous week you said, correctly, the record was seven players from the Arsenal of 1934, not "the eight managed by the great Arsenal side of the 1930s" you now claim you said the record was. 

Second, the Corinthian Casuals to whom you now attribute the record did not even exist in 1894 and 1895, as you would have noted had you bothered to read the website you direct us to.  The Corinthians were founded in 1882, and the Casuals were formed in 1883, but the two clubs did not merge to become the Corinthian Casuals until 1939, more than 45 years after the Wales matches of 1894 and 1895 in which you say the record was set.  The website you point us to says, on its history page and again on its Corinthians achievements page, that the Corinthians, not the Corinthian Casuals, "fielded the full England side twice," against Wales in 1894 and 1895.

Third, and most important, the Corinthians were the primary club side of very few England players, no more than two or three in the 1894 and 1895 matches against Wales.  The Football Association itself has said, in The Official FA England Annual 1991, p. 18 (1990), "This cannot be considered a club record, because the Corinthians were a combined team made up of players from various universities, who also played for other clubs," and it went on to note, "Arsenal, however, did have seven players in the England team against Italy in 1934."  

As the late, great football journalist and historian Bryon Butler wrote in The Official History of The Football Association, p. 34 (rev. ed. 1993), the Corinthians "were amateurs to a man, who played regularly for other clubs, mostly in the London area."  The Corinthians were formed because of England's dismal record against Scotland  in the 1870's and early 1880's.  The problem ran deeper than the England team's stubborn persistence in  the crowd-pleasing yet largely ineffective dribbling game long after the Scots had proven their passing game was tactically superior.   As Niall Edworthy put it in his England: The Official F.A. History, p.  11 (1997):  "The Scotland team were helped in the early years by the fact that most players were drawn from the Glasgow area, meaning they could train together regularly.  The England players, by contrast, were spread all over the country and only met up on the  train to Glasgow  or at the pre-match dinner in London."  The new Corinthians club assembled the best amateur players, primarily from past and present Cambridge University and Oxford University teams, in the hope that through playing together occasionally they could become the primary player pool for an England team capable of beating the Scots.  

That the Corinthians' purpose was to serve as a secondary club for amateur England prospects so that they could develop the understanding that comes from playing together was underlined by the provision in the Corinthians' original constitution stating that the club "will play in no competition."  Indeed, during the 1880's and 1890's, the club did not compete in any league or for any cup, but rather played occasional friendly matches against a variety of opponents.  Not until 1900, years after the Wales matches of 1894 and 1895, was that tradition broken.  

In short, until the turn of the century, the Corinthians, while an extremely powerful and influential team in their own right capable of holding their own in friendlies against the country's best clubs, were, in substance, a training and practice team for the England team's amateur prospects, who were nearly all drawn from other clubs.  They were roughly equivalent to an England squad or player pool, consisting of amateurs drawn from many clubs, although they played more practice matches than modern-day England squads do and although, unlike today's England squads, they were not the regular source of the entire England team.

We do not doubt that all the players who appeared against Wales in 1894 and 1895 played for the Corinthians at one time or another, but nearly all of them had primary or regular club affiliations other than the Corinthians.  Below are the England lineups for the 1894 and 1895 matches against Wales with club affiliations as they appear in three fairly authoritative sources:  the late Jeff Hurley's United Kingdom & Eire International Database (Association of Football Statisticians 1998), the International Federation of Football History & Statistics' England (1872 - 1940), Eire (1924 - 1940), England/Amateurs (1906 - 1940): Full Internationals (IFFHS, Wiesbaden, Germany, 2000), and Mike Ross's Soccer: The International Line-Ups & Statistics Series - England 1872-1960 (Soccer Book Publishing 1995).  

These three sources differ only in the three instances where we have given a player two club affiliations separated by a slash.  In each of those three instances, Hurley for the AFS gave the club affiliation as Corinthians FC while the IFFHS and Ross gave it as the Casuals.  Even under the Hurley/AFS version, the Corinthians were at most the primary club affiliation of three players in the 1894 Wales match and two in the 1895 Wales match.  The vast majority of the players had other clubs as their primary or regular affiliation.  The 1894 and 1895 Wales matches thus set no record for number of England players affiliated to a single club.

Wales 1 England 5 (1-2) - 12 March 1894 - Racecourse Ground, Mold Road, Wrexham - British Championship match


Leslie Hewitt Gay, Old Brightonians, London
Lewis Vaughan Lodge, Cambridge University
Frederick Raymond Pelly, Old Foresters, London
Anthony Henry Hossack, Corinthians FC, London
Charles Wreford-Brown, Old Carthusians, London
Arthur George Topham, Corinthians FC/Casuals, London
Robert Topham, Corinthians FC/Casuals, London
Robert Cunliffe Gosling, Old  Etonians, London
Gilbert Oswald Smith, Oxford University
John Gould Veitch, Old Westminsters, London
Rupert Renorden Sandilands, Old Westminsters, London

England 1 Wales 1 (0-0) - 18 March 1895 - Queen's Club Ground, Kensington, London - British Championship match


George Barkeley Raikes, Oxford University
Lewis Vaughan Lodge, Cambridge University
William John Oakley, Oxford University
Arthur George Henfrey, Corinthians FC, London
Charles Wreford-Brown, Old Carthusians, London
Richard Raine Barker, Corinthians FC/Casuals, London
Maurice Hugh Stanbrough, Old Carthusians, London
Gerald Powys Dewhurst, Liverpool Ramblers FC
Gilbert Oswald Smith, Oxford University
Robert Cunliffe Gosling, Old Etonians, London
Rupert Renorden Sandilands, Old Westminsters, London

The Corinthian Casuals website also claims (on its history page and again on its Corinthians achievements page) that nine Corinthians played for England against Scotland in 1886.   Here is the England lineup, with club affiliations, for that match compiled from the sources mentioned above.  They differ over the club affiliations of three players (those with two clubs separated by a slash after their names), but none of them list the Corinthians as the regular or primary club affiliation of a single England player.  Again, we do not doubt that nine of these players did play at some point for the Corinthians, but their regular club affiliations lay elsewhere.

Scotland 1 England 1 (0-1) - 31 March 1886 - Hampden Park, Glasgow - British Championship match


William John Herbert Arthur, Blackburn Rovers FC
Arthur Melmoth Walters, Cambridge University/Old Carthusians, London
Percy Melmoth Walters, Old  Carthusians, London
Norman Coles Bailey, Clapham Rovers/Old Westminsters, London
Ralph Tyndall Squire, Old Westminsters/Cambridge University
James Henry Forrest, Blackburn Rovers FC
Benjamin Ward Spilsbury, Cambridge University
George Brann, The Swifts, London
Tinsley Lindley, Cambridge University
William Nevill Cobbold, Cambridge University
Edward Charles Bambridge, The Swifts, London