Civil Service FC


Two excellent pieces about Civil Service FC:






Ipswich Town casualties of the First World War

When I wrote my history of Ipswich Town, which was published in 2013, I wanted to tell the story of my football club through the lives and experiences of the people that contributed to the club from all walks of life. One of the aspects of this story was the involvement of Ipswich Town Football Club in both the first and second world wars. I was not given access to the club’s archives, but I was able to find out quite a bit about the players and others who fought in both wars. This being a time of remembrance of those who lost their lives during the First World War, I am writing here about the Town players whose lives were irrevocably changed between 1914 and 1918. Three of them died and a fourth would never play football again due to injury. There is much more detail about the club during this time in my book. This is about a few individuals who were never able to return to Portman Road again.

Cecil Fenn was one of two brothers who played for Town in the years before the First World War. He and his brother Charles were born at Gould House in Dedham, Essex. Their father, Cooper Fenn (some nominative determinism for you) owned a brewery, but was also involved in local Conservative politics, describing himself as “a political registrar and agent.” Both boys were talented footballers and played for the club between 1905 and 1912. All our players were amateurs at this time and both brothers decided to emigrate in order to earn a better living abroad. Charles went to India, from where he returned to Ipswich to die peacefully, at the age of 85, but Cecil emigrated to British Columbia, Canada, where he had planned to become a fruit farmer.

Cecil was an immensely popular player for Ipswich Town. When he left Ipswich for the last time before emigrating, a large crowd of cheering fans followed him to the station to see him off. Sadly, he was never to return to Suffolk again. When war broke out, he enlisted with Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry as a private. He was killed during the second battle of Ypres on 4 May 1915.

His name appears on this Canadian memorial.


Allan Bowman was harder to trace. He played at centre half for Town from 1907 to 1911. He may have been the son of a tailor in St Helen’s parish who was born in 1885. Nothing else is known about him except that he appears on the Suffolk Roll of Honour as a casualty, having been a Lance Corporal in the Royal Fusiliers.

Claude Sennitt was born in Norwich in 1892 and played for ITFC between 1909 and 1912. He made 24 appearances as an inside forward and scored eleven goals. He joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, Hood Battalion, in 1916. He survived the fighting on the frontline for only a few weeks and was shot soon after his arrival in France. He died of his wounds on 23 April 1917.

These were the only former Ipswich Town players that I have been able to identify as having been killed in action during the First World War. Perhaps equally as poignant is the story of Ernie Bugg, a hugely prolific and popular player. Town signed him from Westbourne Mills FC and he made his debut against Ealing in October 1911. Between then and leaving Ipswich to join up, Bugg scored 79 goals in 62 appearances. Although he survived the war, and lived on until 1946, Ernie Bugg (pictured in the photograph at the top of this page, front row, second left) had to have his leg amputated as a result of the wounds he suffered. It is not difficult to imagine what a blow that was to such a talented player.

Why football matches start at 3pm on Saturdays

Copyright David Kindred kindred-spirit.co.uk

Copyright David Kindred kindred-spirit.co.uk

by Susan Gardiner @susan1878

Recently I became quite exercised about the possible change to the date and time of a football match when the team I support, Ipswich Town, was scheduled to play Norwich City. This fixture, our “local derby” – even though the two places are over 40 miles apart – is almost always moved. There’s a genuine, sometimes fierce, rivalry between the two clubs, and sometimes there has been trouble.

Fans of both clubs are used to the fixture being moved, because – for some illogical reason – the police and other authorities appear to believe that there’s less likelihood of serious trouble between fans if it’s held at a different, often inconvenient, time. It might well be true that playing the derby match at three o’clock on a Tuesday morning in February would reduce the risk of violence, but I’d guess that it would also seriously reduce the crowd.

In the past, matches have started at 11 a.m. on a Sunday, presumably in the belief that no-one drinks before the sun is over the yardarm (it’s my belief that the early start encourages people to drink with their breakfast) and that we all turn to saints on a Sunday. In fact, the only thing I recall about matches at Portman Road being held that early on a Sunday morning, is the priest at nearby church, St. Mary Elms, complaining that his morning service was being ruined by the sound of police helicopters.

I wrote about the rescheduling of our most recent match making some of these points, but I became aware of how, for some people, playing at different times suits them. I’ve always felt that football matches should start at 3 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon, unless they were midweek games or there were compelling reasons to move them. Sky has, of course, changed all that. It’s one reason that I wonder how much I’d enjoy it if my club were promoted to the Premier League. I recall Middlesbrough fans complaining that in one season in the PL, they didn’t get to see a home game at three o’clock on a Saturday until about February. Supporters of other clubs, like Hull City and Stoke City, have also grumbled about it.

However, I can see that for some people who work shifts, and lots of people who have to work on weekends, Saturday afternoons are not an ideal time, so perhaps I’m being selfish demanding that matches are always played at one time and on one particular day. In addition to this, I can imagine that a key fixture played on a Friday evening might be quite exciting.

And, after all, the reason that football matches have traditionally been played at 3 p.m. on a Saturday is simply due to a historical accident, just as the school holidays are when they are because children had to be available to help with the harvest. The 19th-century Factory Acts improved the working conditions of workers in many ways, including placing restrictions upon the hours that some people were allowed to work. This included a law being passed in 1850 that factory workers should stop at 2 p.m. on a Saturday. It’s absolutely no coincidence that football boomed as a spectator sport after this date.

So, as those social conditions no longer apply, why should we stick to an outmoded tradition, if it doesn’t suit everyone?

I’d still argue that three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon is a great time to start a football match. It gives people who have to travel a long distance – not just away fans but supporters who live far from their own clubs – time to get to the match. It gives people a chance to meet up with their mates and have a few civilized drinks or a civilized lunch, whatever they like to do to enhance the pleasure or assuage the pain to come. It’s a good time for young children, neither too late nor too early. It may be an outdated tradition, but it’s a good one. Not all traditions are worth hanging on to, but I think that this one might be.



Stanley Matthews and politics


Copyright Getty Images

by Susan Gardiner

Stanley Matthews was regarded in his time as one of the best players in the world. Pelé famously said that he was “the man who taught us the way football should be played” and there is no doubt that he remains one of the most important figures in the history of the game, although his stock – in Britain, at least – seems to have dwindled somewhat since his death in 2000 at the age of 85.

Matthews became a footballer at the age of only 15, as an apprentice with his local side, Stoke City, signing professional terms two years later and he carried on playing until 1965 – in fact, he was still playing in charity matches in 1981. He wrote five autobiographies, which are really all updated versions of the same book. His first memoir, Feet First, ends just after the Second World War, and his last, The Way It Was was published in the year of his death.

There’s little in the way of overt party politics in any of the books, although it is noticeable that the only British politicians that feature in the illustrations are Clement Attlee and, later, the Labour Minister of Sport, Denis Howell. Stanley Matthews was a private man who seemed to be slightly uncomfortable in the public eye, although he enjoyed his success on the football pitch and many of the honours that it brought him throughout his life. It is difficult to imagine quite how famous Matthews was in his heyday when newspaper headlines such as MATTHEWS IS ANNOYED were published. He was a man who stood up for himself and his beliefs, however, having periods of conflict with the directors of his clubs about the way that he felt they were treating him, and – as many of us discover – politics has a habit of following us around, however much we might like to avoid it.

Matthews was an intelligent and thoughtful man and it’s quite clear, even from that first autobiography that he had little time for the right wing politics of the 1930s. Even as a young man, he appears to have been well-informed and quite clear in his mind about the nature of fascism and was aware of the way that fascist leaders like Mussolini were attempting to exploit football as propaganda. He did not have to wait for long. His second international for England was played against Italy at Highbury on 14 Nov 1934. He wrote: “Fascism was flourishing in those days when England seemed oblivious of the danger and misery that was to smite the world only five years later.”

Matthews was aware of the political importance of that match and so the impact of what happened before the England game against Germany in Berlin on 14 May 1938 must also have been obvious to him. A great deal has been written about the incident in which the England team gave the Nazi salute before the game, including a piece by David Mellor in the Daily Mail in 2008, in which with no sense of irony at all, he criticised the appeasers of tyrannical political regimes. That’s the Daily Mail of HURRAH FOR THE BLACKSHIRTS fame.



The decision to insist that the England players made the Nazi salute was that of the Football Association in England. Matthews found the whole thing very upsetting and wrote about it several times, expressing feelings of shame and regret, even many years later.

He was aware that the Germans were relishing the propaganda value of the match: “The game against Germany took on a significance far beyond football. The Nazi propaganda machine saw it as an opportunity to display Third Reich superiority and played up that disconcerting theme big style in the German newspapers. The German team had spent ten days preparing for the game at a special training centre in the Black Forest.”

It was a shock to the England players when an FA official came into their dressing room as they were changing, shortly before the match and “informed us that when our national anthem was played, the German team would salute as a mark of respect. The FA wanted us to reciprocate by giving the raised arm Nazi salute during the playing of the German national anthem. The dressing room erupted. There was bedlam. All the England players were livid and totally opposed to this, myself included. … Eddie Hapgood, normally a respectful and devoted captain, wagged his finger at the official and told him what he could do with the Nazi salute, which involved putting it where the sun doesn’t shine. In fact, Eddie went so far as to offer a compromise, saying we would stand to attention military style but the offer fell on deaf ears.”

There is no reason to doubt Matthews’ account. The players were told the salute was to be made following the “direct order” of the British ambassador to Germany, Nevile Henderson, now regarded as an arch-appeaser. Stanley Rous, the FA secretary, someone in football history whose politics might bear further examination (watch this space) endorsed the ambassador’s position. The players were told that the political situation was so sensitive that it needed “only a spark to set Europe alight.” The players gave in and made the salute in front of 110,000 spectators, flags and banners with swastikas and other Nazi symbols all around.

In every account that Matthews gave of it, he spoke of his personal feelings of regret: “… even to this day I still feel shame whenever I sit by the fire and glance through my scrap book and gaze upon that infamous picture of an England football team lining up like a bunch of Nazi robots, giving the dreaded salute.”

England had some satisfaction, however, as they beat the German side 6-3.

Matthews had little else in the way of political controversy during the rest of his playing career apart from causing a minor protest by the Russian side, Dynamo Moscow, which made a brief tour of England just after the war ended. Matthews offered his services to Arsenal as a guest player, having read a newspaper report that George Allison was short of players, many of his own such as Leslie and Denis Compton and Eddie Hapgood were still in the services. The Russians were unhappy about Arsenal playing stars from other sides, claiming that there was some kind of political motive to demonstrate the superiority of British football, although it’s most likely the real reason was that the desire on the part of the football authorities in England to have as competitive game as possible.

The most interesting aspect of Matthews’ involvement with politics occurred after his retirement from football, although his motivation was likely to have been humanitarian, in that he spent 25 years coaching in Africa. He coached in several African countries, and later in Soweto, South Africa, where he had his own team called Stan’s Men.

In The Way It Was, he wrote: “To me, football is the greatest jewel in life and as a footballer, you are privileged to have a God-given opportunity of providing the right setting for it to shine.” Matthews could hardly bear to give up playing, even at the age of 50 and coaching was the next best thing, but he proved to be unsuccessful at Port Vale in the 1968/69 season – his only attempt at managing in English football – and, because of the addition of complications in his personal life at this time, when he met and fell in love with a Czech interpreter, Mila Winters, and the scandal of the ensuing divorce from his first wife, Betty, he was to spend a great deal of time abroad.

During this period, Matthews coached in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, but it was his involvement with apartheid-era South Africa that is most interesting.

“I started those summer coaching stints back in 1953 and enjoyed my time on that continent immensely. I didn’t go coaching there for money,” he wrote. “I embarked upon such trips to put something back into football. I felt a deep debt to the game and by coaching youngsters in the poor townships of the Third World I felt I was paying back in kind a game that had been so very good to me. If I had wanted to make money from coaching, I could have done. I had numerous offers from around the world including many from the USA, Australia, West Germany and Brazil but the rewards I obtained from coaching in townships in Africa were such that no amount of monetary reward could ever equal.”

Although he received some criticism for having anything to do with the system in South Africa at that time, it seems to have been misplaced, because – if anything – Matthews was flouting the system of racial segregation by coaching in Soweto, which was regarded as a dangerous place for a white man to be. He formed Stan’s Men while living in South Africa in 1975 and wrote: “… apartheid was, of course, still very much a force in that country. I never had any truck with it and for years had happily stayed in Soweto on my visits there to coach. I simply ignored it and for the most part, I am relieved to say, those misguided people who inflicted it upon that beautiful country chose to ignore the fact that I flouted its rules.”

Stan’s Men, mostly schoolboys, were to travel to Brazil in 1975. Matthews had asked the boys who their football hero was, and the answer had been Pelé so he decided to take them to meet him. He raised money to fund the trip from Coca-Cola and the Johannesburg Sunday Times, even though it seemed doubtful at the time that the team would even be allowed out of the country: “The problem was twofold. Not only would the South African authorities kick up about me taking a group of black youngsters out of the country, but the fact that we were technically under the jurisdiction of a Football Association that was barred from international football meant FIFA could step in and put the kybosh on the tour on the basis that we were breaking their anti-apartheid stance against the South African FA!”

Catch-22 indeed.

Although based in Rio, FIFA president Joao Havelange did not intervene and said absolutely nothing about the tour. Realising that it only remained for the South African government to prevent it, with the risk of embarrassing headlines around the world, Matthews gambled on simply taking the boys to the airport. It paid off and Stan’s Men was the first black football team to tour outside South Africa. They trained with the Brazilian national side, which included players like Zico, and watched matches at the Maracanã stadium, but lost every game they played heavily, including 8-1 and 10-1 defeats.

Of Matthews’ contribution to coaching in South Africa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu told the British film-maker Geoff Francis, that Matthews’ coaching in Soweto and other townships “had all kind of ramifications in the fact that it also helped to strengthen our hope for the future”. He was greatly loved by his players, one of whom described him as “a black man with a white face” and another, Paradise Moeketsi, said: “There’s no way to describe that man. That man, he was like the Jesus of this world.”

A little exaggerated, perhaps, but there’s no doubt that Stanley Matthews achieved his ambition of putting back into football a great deal of what he had received from it.




Sheffield: the cradle of football

Very pleased to have been given permission by Steven Kay, author of the very well-received The Evergreen in Red and White to use this great piece on Sheffield and football history. This has been taken verbatim from his 1889 Books Blog.


First published by the Football Pink.

The game of football is the only truly global sport: played everywhere by everyone irrespective of social class. Before I go any further let’s be clear: we are talking here, as the name suggests, about a game played with the feet. If you run with the ball or hold it in your hands it is no longer a game played with the feet and should therefore be not be called football, if you insist on using the word then you should at least have the decency to qualify it as “rugby football” or “Aussie rules” or “American football.” This of course is blind prejudice on my part, but I come from the Home of Football – Sheffield – so you’ll have to excuse me. We have no great traditions of other versions of the game here. To a traditionalist it is quite simple: football is the winter game, cricket is the summer game.

Back in the mid 1800s there were many different games around Britain calling themselves “foot-ball,” most of which involved some sort of catching, but then some clever chaps from round these parts, William Prest and Nathaniel Creswick, saw sense and applied the logic to the words ‘foot’ and ‘ball’ and wrote the Sheffield rules to codify the game they loved and restricted handling and hacking in order to civilise the sport. These rules were the precursor to the modern game and Sheffield worked with, and had great influence over, the nascent Football Association. See here. (By the way “Aussie rules” was based on the Sheffield rules originally: another Creswick, a relative, having taken them with him to Aus.)

The game was further refined and the fair catch abolished: making it a game played solely with the feet: except for the goalkeeper. Another Sheffield invention – designated goalkeepers (however, in the 1970s in the local parks we still allowed the old rule of anyone who was back could be the goalie – the goalie’s wag rule – as it is properly called).

The following things we associate with the game were also “Made in Sheffield”:

– corner flags

– corner kicks

– goal kicks from 6 yards of the goal

– indirect free kicks

– the rule that players must not encroach within a set distance of a free-kick

– throw ins

– tape to limit the height of the goal (this refinement was first suggested by the Sheffield FA) – later replaced by the crossbar.

– change of ends at half time

–  forward passes: imagine the game without the attacking play that allowed!

–  headers: the first observed account of headed balls was by Sheffield players


That’s only the start of Sheffield’s claim to be the spiritual home of the game. Other firsts:

– the first football club was Sheffield F.C. formed in 1857 (they are still going in the 8th tier of English football).

– not a first but a second was Hallam F.C. formed in 1860 (now in the 10th tier)

– Hallam F.C’s ground, Sandygate, is the oldest football ground in the world in continuous use. It hosted the first inter-club game, naturally between the two first clubs on the 26th December 1860.

– the first football trophy – the Youdan Cup – won by Hallam F.C. in 1867

– cup draws from a hat with the home team drawn first

– the concept of cup-tied players

– extra-time

– the first away games: Sheffield F.C. making use of those new-fangled railways to travel to Lincoln and Nottingham

–  the first inter-county fixtures: 1871 versus London, 1872 versus Derbyshire, 1874 versus Glasgow

– neutral officials including a referee

– the first use by a referee of a whistle

– shin pads

– regular football columns in newspapers

– turnstiles (believed to be a first at Bramall Lane in 1872)

– speaking of Beautiful Downtown Bramall Lane, as it is known, it has the claim to be the oldest professional football ground or the world’s oldest major football stadium

– charity and benefit matches

– floodlit matches: the first was at Bramall Lane in October 1878

– the first inter-schools trophy – the Clegg Shield (the 125th Clegg Shield final took place on 6th May 2014)

– the first Saturday evening sports paper in 1907 – it soon became dubbed “The Green ’Un” – imaginatively called, the paper it was printed on being green – it is still going though, sadly, no longer the Saturday tea-time staple it once was

– the first football phone-in – invented in 1986 by Robert Jackson, a former BBC Radio Sheffield presenter/producer as the “Grumble Spot” but developed into “Praise or Grumble” – though it must be conceded that the current state of football in South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire means it carries more grumbles than praises. “Praise or Grumble” is the reason you won’t hear many South Yorkshire fans on the upstart programme 606: we know ours is much better and covers the only really important stuff – why would we want to hear about southerners going on about their faux attraction to North Western clubs all the time?

No doubt this still comes as a shock to some people. Surely it was England’s great public schools that invented the game? The evidence does not support that. Clearly they made attempts to codify some sort of “foot-ball” but it was the Sheffield rules that shaped the modern game. James Walvin in his book The People’s Game suggests that the “Sheffield Club was established under the influence of Old Harrovians who persuaded local village footballers not to handle the ball, allegedly by providing the players with white gloves and florins to clutch during the game.” Note the word “allegedly,” in other words total piffle! Such myths are just history being written by the victors yet again (this time the victors in the class struggle who can’t abide the thought of a grubby unfashionable place having given birth to the beautiful game). You only need to think about it to realise what utter nonsense it is: a Sheffielder wearing white gloves? – to play football?? – holding in his hands half a week’s wages??? They would have just kept running and gone down the pub laughing at the chinless wonders from Harrow?

There is plenty of evidence that football was played in and around Sheffield as a folk game with no external influence from posh schools in the south. It is likely that these folk games were the inspiration of the game. Of course Sheffield can’t claim the sole credit  – the game developed like many great inventions through collaboration, but its claim to be the cradle of the modern game has to be incontrovertible.

Given such a strong claim to be home of football it is a source of sadness that both Sheffield league clubs currently under-perform so consistently. Sheffield United is the most under-performing club in the country if you compare support over the years with trophies. (Please don’t dismiss this as a whinge – stick with it, there is a thread – I know supporters of many clubs would love to have watched the cup runs and occasional promotions we have had; I am merely making factual observations.) This last season, average Sheffield United attendances in league and cup have been 18,000: and that in England’s third tier. When in the 2nd tier they had average attendances of  25,000. The last major trophy they won was beyond living memory: the FA Cup in 1925. Sheffield Wednesday in England’s second tier have maintained gates averaging 21,000 this season despite it being uninspiring. They have had had slightly more recent success (though it sticks in the craw to admit it): the League Cup in 1991, and the FA Cup in 1935. But they still probably rank as the second most under-performing club.

All very peculiar. Perhaps I am on a hiding to nothing if I try to makes sense of this. (And, please, don’t anyone mention that old chestnut about the Sheffield clubs needing to merge, or that Sheffield is not big enough to support two teams. People who say that just betray their lack of understanding: in this case one plus one would not equal two. And Sheffield is much bigger than Burnley, Bolton and Blackburn combined; bigger than Liverpool).  It could be just a historical blip and will in time be rectified. (Maybe next season is the one? Recent financial backing for both the big Sheffield clubs holds out the promise of a new dawn; but then we have seen so many false dawns and it is the curse of every football fan to dare to dream at the start of each new season.) Or is Sheffield’s footballing malaise something deeper? Does it share a common root with why Sheffield gets overlooked so often by the nation and has done over many years? The same reasons that Government and other money, if it ever trickles out of London, heads to places like Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds. Evidence, for example, the BBC relocation, the bias of regional broadcasters against unfashionable Sheffield (Leeds based BBC Look North is very sloppy in its coverage of the region it is supposed to represent), National Museums funding – including the National Football Museum!!! (And, before I move off the subject of the National Football Museum, it has far too little recognition of the role Sheffield played in the development of the game: Sheffield FC are listed in the Hall of Fame, but not William Prest and Nathaniel Creswick. No Ernest Needham or the great JC Clegg, no Derek Dooley, no Ernie Blenkinsop, or Billy Gillespie. How so?) And then, adding Sheffield to the HS2 plan was an afterthought, possibly only conceded as a sop to Nick Clegg – all the original talk being about linking Manchester and Leeds to London. Perhaps in this same way football money or interest has never flowed into the city. When Sheffield United were in the Premier League in 2006/7 we always seemed to have to wait until the last slot of Match of the Day to see our team, irrespective of the quality of the game: as if there were resentment that we were there at all. When United (the original one: Sheffield) play the third United (Manchester) the commentators can never get out of their habit of referring to United when they mean Manchester United. In the early 1990s when these two Uniteds played against each other in the FA Cup, the lowly Sheffield upstarts were criticised (rather than congratulated) by commentators for stopping Manchester playing their usual style of football. Sheffield has long suffered from being an unfashionable place: most of the time its residents don’t care, they just get on with it: after all “it is them that don’t know what they’re missing.” Sheffield just gets on with things: in 2011 when the rest of England were rioting, Sheffield was the only large town that had no problems. They didn’t bother 30 years ago either when Toxteth was in flames. After all what is the point?

Perhaps just sometimes we need to be a bit less chilled and shout a bit louder to be given our due. Perhaps we should stop being quietly proud in our Sheffield way and should shout about our football heritage a bit more loudly. We should have kicked up one hell of a stink when that original rule book went up for sale and was sold to Qatar. It should have had an export bar put on it by the Government, it should have been saved for the Nation, for Sheffield, like Benjamin Brittan’s draft score of The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra was. Every football fan in the world should speak of Sheffield in hushed tones and have Sandygate on their list of places to go before they die. If Liverpool had done for the game what Sheffield has, you would never hear the last of it: there would be monuments and museums, heritage trails, memorabilia, open topped bus tours etc. etc. As John Lennon said, The Beatles may have been more popular than Jesus Christ. But football must be a thousand times more popular than the Beatles.