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The 1888 Tour - In their own words

In January 1888 the following letter was sent on behalf of Alfred Shaw, Arthur Shrewsbury and James Lillywhite (three international cricketers) to a number of well-known rugby players by Henry Turner, the Secretary of the Notts Castle Cricket Club.


Dear Sir, - It has been decided by Messrs Shaw, Shrewsbury, and Lillywhite to take out a team of Rugby Union football players to Australia next March, returning to England in September next. The grounds for playing the matches upon have been secured in all the principal places. The rules of the Victorian Association differ somewhat from the Rugby Union rules, the number of players being twenty a side, instead of fifteen as with us. The greater number of matches will be arranged against clubs playing the Rugby Union rules, such clubs forming by far the largest number in the colonies. Under the Victorian rules some six or eight matches will be played, but these will not come on until late in the tour, thereby giving every opportunity to the team of witnessing games played under these rules, as well as practising them. I am desired by Messrs Shaw, Shrewsbury and Lillywhite, to ask if you will form one of the team in which case I shall be happy, on their behalf, to communicate terms to you, which I feel sure will prove satisfactory. Kindly let me have your decision at earliest convenience, and oblige, yours truly,


Henry Turner, Hon. Sec.


P.S.-If you should know among your circle of friends any one who you think would be likely to take the trip, I should esteem it a favour if you would kindly send me his name and address. Should prefer International players if possible.


The Leeds Mercury of Saturday 7th January 1888 was moved to comment:

The scheme is not likely to prove attractive to our most distinguished football players, and if a team is to be taken to Australia it would be better that it should be marshalled under the aegis of gentlemen who thoroughly understand the game, and not under that of cricketers, however distinguished they may be. This, it appears to us, is a cardinal objection to the proposal, and we should not be surprised to learn that it will prove a fatal one. If not fatal, it goes without saying that our best amateur exponents of Rugby football will not join an organisation got up, not by professional football players, but by professional cricketers; and if a team can be got together under such circumstances, it will be one which cannot be trusted to uphold the honour of the mother country.


‘Professionalism’ has up to the present been excluded from Rugby football, much to the advantage of the game and the honour of those who play it; and we hope its leading representatives will discount this little speculation on the part of professional cricketers. If our football players desire to exhibit their skill in the colonies, there could be no objection to their skill in the colonies, there could be no objection to their doing so, but let the team be organised by those who understand the game, and those who are immediately concerned for its honour – by the representatives of the Rugby Union.


‘Professionalism’ is the bane of nearly all our manly sports. Immediately it gets a foothold, betting and all low devices of the turf follow in its wake; games are not played for the love of sport, but with a desire to make money, and to this consideration every other is sacrificed. Even at the present time the council of the Football Association have under consideration several cases of alleged professionalism, and we are glad to see that they are exercising their punitive powers in the case of those who are proved to have been paid to play for teams of which they are not members.


It is stated that a few promises have been received to join the proposed Australian team, but it will surprise no one to learn that the following famous players have ‘respectfully refused the offers which have been made to them,’ viz.:- MR J. H. Potter, of the Leeds St. John’s Club; Mr Rawson Robertshaw and Mr F. Bonsor, of the Bradford Club; and Mr P. H. Don-Wauchope the Scottish half-back.

In order to promote their idea Lillywhite and Shrewsbury, who were in Australia touring with a cricket team they had organised, embarked on a series of press interviews. At the time it is clear from the Australian and New Zealand press that James Lillywhite was seen as the main force behind the project, or at least its public face. Nowadays the tour is almost universally known as Shaw and Shrewsbury’s Tour and Lillywhite’s involvement is largely forgotten. The following interview appeared in the Brisbane Courier of 17th January 1888:


"It is going to be just as hot a team as we can get together in all England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales," said Mr James Lillywhite to a representative of the Melbourne Daily Telegraph as they were talking about the proposed visit of an English Football team to Australia during the season of the present year. It is some time since we announced that the great cricket managers - Shaw, Shrewsbury, and Lillywhite - contemplated such a step, and in the meantime footballers of all sorts, both in this and the adjoining colonies, have been considering the matter, and the consensus of opinion is that the visit of twenty to twenty five capable players would be most desirable. They are some Victorians, however, players of the Australian game, who believe that our own men are invincible, and that no foreign team, however good, could even make a contest interesting, and accordingly have been inclined to throw cold water on the project. But they have come to admit the possibility of the matter, until it may now be said that no two opinions as to its advisableness exist. The very fact that the management of the team will be in the hands of the gentleman to whom reference has been made is a sufficient guarantee that the men will not be mean in prowess. Mr Shrewsbury, who was present during the conversation, remarked in a dry fashion – “Really, I think that they will astonish your fellows. It is not as if we proposed to bring men who had never played football. Those who come out will have been at it all their lives, and as they will all be international footballers - and that means something at home, as, I daresay, you know - Australian footballers will have all they can do to beat them. I have heard some people say that they would be no good at your game, but they can kick and mark, and run, and, believe me, that when they land here there will be very few of the wrinkles of the game they do not know something about.”

“I’ll tell you how we came to think about it,” chimed in Mr Lillywhite, in answer to a question. “When we were here with our last team we heard a lot of talk about the great crowds that went to football matches, and it struck us as we were on our way home that it would not be a bad idea to bring 20 men out. There was no question about it that cricket was played out in Australia, and it did not seem as if anything could be done to revive it. I am sure we did our best to create an interest, but it was no use. Well, when we got to Colombo we wrote to Melbourne, and asked for a copy of the rules. Dozens of copies were sent, add they reached us shortly after we arrived in England, and a little examination showed us that there was not a great deal to learn that our players did not already know, so we decided to go in for it, and before coming away on this trip a gentleman in Nottingham, himself a well-known player, was appointed to select the 20. His instructions were to pick the best men — pick them from England, Ireland. Scotland, or Wales, and as they play the Rugby game in Queensland, New South Wales and New Zealand, we determined to play all Rugby players.”

By the way, that is an answer to all that has been said about the introduction of professionalism into football in Victoria, for the Rugby association at home has the most stringent rules with regard to all Rugby players remaining amateurs. They'll be no mean lot, for they will be a score of about as fine a lot of athletic young fellows as ever you set your eyes on. There will be some no doubt from the universities. It is there you find the pick of footballers, and every man will be an international player. Then, you know. Mr Stoddart, of Vernon's Eleven. He is about a fine a footballer as there is in England: indeed, I believe, as a half-back that he is not to be equalled. He will stop here and join the team when it arrives, provided we can secure Mr. Jeffrey, another very fine man, and from what Mr. Stoddart says there is no doubt he will come. Then there is Mr. Smith and Mr. Brann of the eleven that is here with us now. They are both international players, and have expressed a wish to remain. Mr. Smith says that as he has lost his football in England by coming out here he might as well have it in Australia.

“You might say this,” Mr Shrewsbury interrupted: “We have had diagrams of the football field in the Australian game prepared by players here, showing the positions of the men on the field, showing where goal sneeks are placed and so on, and they have been sent home for the team to study. Some further ones have been sent from South Australia and, as they will have a coach in England, they are not likely to let anything escape them. Besides, as you know, there are plenty of men at home who know all about your game, and they will give assistance in teaching it.”

Then Mr Lillywhite is asked something concerning the Victorian Association: “Well, it was a bit of a staggerer when we heard that they had refused their patronage. Yes we did fret a little, for you know how we receive teams of cricketers at Home, or anybody else who comes; while, if a team of footballers went no one would be able to make too much of them. But I wrote to the secretary, and asked him if they could not reconsider their decision, and I see that they have been good enough to arrange to do so. We do not want to clash with any arrangements they make — indeed, we would prefer to leave everything to them-— for our only desire is to work along amicably with everybody while we are here. We proposed to ask them to give us three Saturdays, so that in the case of our winning one match, and you winning one, there could be a final and decisive one. If that could be arranged — three matches, England v. Victoria — then we might be able to arrange matches on off-days with Carlton, South Melbourne, Geelong, Essendon, and Fitzroy, and the other important twenties, so that the contests for the premiership and the championship should not be interfered with. When the Australian cricketers go home, you know, they play four or five big matches during the season, apart altogether from club arrangements”


We had arranged,” continued Mr Shrewsbury, “for the team to leave England on or about 10th March with the mail steamer that calls at Hobart and goes on to New Zealand, for at the latter place we intend the men to play first. Then in the meantime we could get a coach or two here, and send them on to join the team at Hobart, and teach them well, while they are down in New Zealand, all the ins-and-outs of your game. They would get down to Dunedin towards the end of April, and thence they would make their way through the colony, coming over to Sydney about the beginning of June, and after a game or two under Rugby rules come down here, where we propose to spend the most of our time if the association agrees to, help us, as I hope they will do. I believe the interest would be enormous, especially after the first match or two, when our men had got well into the swing of the game, and had shown the stuff they were made of. They want us to go up to Queensland, as far as Rockhampton, but we will have to see about that. Mr Lillywhite and I remain here, and will make all arrangements that may be necessary.”


“It has to be considered what the expense will be,” said Mr Lillywhite, “It’s going to cost an awful of money, for their passages out here means a pretty big sum. Then their expenses will not be under a £5-note a week, and this, if you calculate it up for six months, is something to think about. They are not paid, of course, but some of them will have to leave men in charge of their businesses, and that has to be settled. So with regards to Tasmania and Queensland we shall have to see first whether sufficient interest would be taken at those places to warrant sending so many men.”


Then arose the question as to the possibility of introducing the Australian game in England. “It is quite on the cards,” said Mr Lillywhite, most enthusiastically. “From all I have heard, it is a wonderfully fine game, and if the team take a liking to it, as I have heard everyone say they will, it is quite possible that when they go Home they will play some games to show English people what it is. I have heard too, that once a man plays the Australian game he will never play any other after, and if there is anything in that, the visit of this team means a big future for Australian football. No, we have no intention of bringing out a team every season. Nothing of the sort. But if this be a success we would be quite prepared to discuss with your association the advisableness of bringing out another, say, in two or three years’ time.”


The organisers’ promise of ‘as hot a team as possible’ was considerably weakened by the RFU’s refusal to become involved, both in the selection of players and the arrangement of fixtures. Although the RFU stated that they would not stand in the way of the tour as long as none of their rules were broken, they were suspicious of the promoters’ methods and motives right up to the team’s departure.

Once a team had been got together, and many rumours circulated in the press (both here and down under) as to which players would participate, the team assembled at the Manchester Hotel in London, early in March 1888. It was here that news reached the promoters that one of their number, Jack Clowes of  Halifax, had been ‘professionalised’ at an emergency meeting in Leeds meaning that if he played during the tour the whole team would suffer the same fate and so be banned from any participation in future games.

What the team decided to do about this unforeseen development was recorded in the first of a series of letters written for the Manchester Courier by Robert Seddon who was to be appointed Captain of the team by the other players. At the time Seddon was not credited as author of the letters, at least not until he drowned in the Hunter River during the tour. Presumably this was because he was receiving payment for the letters, which would, of course, have been against the RFU rules on professionalism and could have led to a ban.


The English Players for Australia - The Professional Dispute

Letter from one of the team

One of the English footballers, now on their way to Australia to fulfil the engagements arranged for them at that place and New Zealand, sends us the following interesting letter, describing their departure, which took place last Thursday, from this country, and also gives some important items with regard to the professional dispute:-

Our departure from Manchester has been so much commented upon by most of the Manchester papers that it will not be necessary for me to again refer to it. The hearty and enthusiastic feeling shown by the great crowd to see us off seemed to pierce the gloom cast over most of the players at leaving many friends who are very dear to them, and many felt proud that although the Rugby Union have tried to discourage the public opinion regarding this tour, the followers of football in Lancashire know better how to treat its representatives.

After leaving the Central station our journey was very pleasant down to Nottingham, where we were joined by Messrs. Shaw, Turner and Scotton, each of us being presented with two jerseys and a cap, both being much admired. The cap is red, white, and blue velvet, trimmed with gold braid and tassel, in the front being a shield in cardinal silk with the Union Jack crossed. We arrived at the Manchester Hotel, London, soon after six o’clock, where a banquet was given to the team by Messrs. Shaw, Shrewsbury, and Lillywhite; chairman, the Right Hon. Lord Newark, M.P., H. Broadhurst, M.P., H. Turner (the secretary of all the arrangements), and Dr J. Smith, who is managing the team previous to our arrival in New Zealand.

But it could easily be seen that the minds of the players were set on something more lively than listening to speeches on their last night in London, one after another asking to be excused for only a minute to speak to a friend outside, those gentlemen in case forgetting to return, anyway not the same evening; what a bad memory some of our team must have. I wonder if in some of our matches they should have the chance of a clear run-in they would so easily forget to touch it down and secure a try. I don’t think so. Breakfast being ordered for 9:30 we were pleasantly surprised to find the whole team once more together.

After breakfast, Mr. Turner informed the team that at a Rugby Union meeting, held in Leeds on Wednesday evening, Mr Clowes, of Halifax, one of our team, had been classed as a professional; and, of course, as in the eyes of the Rugby Union, were we to play Clowes in our team they would class the whole as professionals. We called together a meeting of players to consider what had better be done in the matter, most of the team objecting to move a step further unless something was done. Having got all the team together, Mr Turner read a copy of a wire he had on Wednesday morning forwarded to Mr Rowland Hill, which I enclose:-

To be delivered at meeting of Rugby Union at Leeds tonight; report in Sporting Life about you taking chair tonight at Manchester Hotel, is not our sending. As regards your meeting tonight re professionalism, we understand Stadden says he saw cheque Stuart received for £15. This is a positive falsehood. I further hear he stated that he had been offered £75 for incidental expenses to go out, and that Lockwood said he was offered £50 and outfit, I think I scarcely need deny these statements, as a look at these two men would convince anyone that if either of these men had been offered such a sum, to have a free holiday in Australia for six months, they would not have refused it. Shaw and myself most positively deny that anything has been done, in any way or shape, to break any of the Rugby Union laws. I told you at first we should not do so, and we have not done so. As regards Clowes, he was recommended to us by Mr Duckett, of the Yorkshire County, who states in his letter: Clowes wants to go out if he can have bare expenses. This is agreement with him – out of £15 sent him he had to pay railway fare to London, hotel expenses and insurance. We consider this a reasonable amount, and fail to see in it anything breaking the Rugby Union laws. If he spends it in outfit, then he must pay the other expenses out of his own pocket. We should be sorry to interfere in any way with your laws, and we think it is only fair to ask you to dismiss any idea of professionalism in connection with this tour, which idea, as far as I hear, is supplied mainly by two disappointed men, whose terms we could not possibly comply with.


Manchester Hotel, Aldersgate Street, London.

P.S. The promoters appointed the tour in good faith, and in proof, as you know, offered Rugby Union selection of teams, and all arrangements. We wish you had accepted the offer. We appeal in all fairness to you not to injure our team by putting a term upon it of which it is not guilty, and of which the promoters have studiously avoided running any risk of.

After reading this over to the team, the promoters asked the meeting what was best to be done in the matter. After some argument, it was decided that, as Mr Clowes had made all preparations for the journey, we should ask him to write a letter signed by every member of the team, stating the agreement under which we are going out, and asking them to reconsider their previous decision. Should they refuse we agreed to let Clowes take the tour, but not as a playing member of the team. Seeing that the Rugby Union had left over their decision until the very eve of his departure we had no other course left open to us.

After this unpleasantness had been so satisfactorily got over all was bustle and hurry to catch the 12 o’clock train from London to Gravesend, where we arrived about 1:30, going abroad at once, and giving three cheers for each of the gentlemen who had come to see us off and another three for Merry England.

We now began to think our long journey had fairly commenced, the greater part of our afternoon being spent in making our berths as homely as possible. After dinner, which is at six o’clock, we had a little dancing and singing, Mr Thomas (the Welsh international) being both a good pianoforte player and singer, although only a short head in front of Dr. Brooks (of Durham), both gentlemen rendering some first-class songs, much to the enjoyment of the passengers. It is very seldom a passage is taken without meeting some funny man. We are not long in finding such a character on board in the person of Mr Jones. Very funny man this. Very soon he was christened by the whole team as ‘Good Old Jones’ and ‘The Only Jones’. This he seemed rather to like, and much amusement has been enjoyed at his expense. The team, so far, are defying the enemy (sickness) with wonderful success, perhaps with one exception, Tom Banks, who has taken an unfair advantage by starting a day before everybody else. Mr Paul, of Swinton, informs me that his brother, the Rev. Mr Paul, of Nottingham, who came on to Gravesend to see him off, had presented each of the team with New Testament, which he hoped would not be forgotten by any member of the team.

From what I can hear, out of the 12 Lancashire and Yorkshire players in our team not more than six will return to old England. Messrs. Paul, Kent, Mather, Clowes, Haslam and Stuart all have declared their intention of giving Australia a fair trial before coming back again. We are now within a few hours’ sail of Plymouth, where I must post these few remarks to you; but before concluding allow me to thank sincerely the many friends and supporters of Rugby football who showed their good feeling towards us by the hearty manner and many good wishes with which they sent us on our long journey, one old gentleman in the team saying that had it been the Prince of Wales he would have been flattered. I have just been handed a rule book containing the Australasian rules, which I will comment upon in a later letter.

For the benefit of friends who might wish to write or send papers our headquarters will be Oxford Hotel, Sydney, Australia.

Manchester Courier & Lancashire General Advertiser - Tuesday 13th March 1888

Over the course of the next five months, Seddon forwarded a further eight letters before his untimely death:


The English Football Players in Australia - Letter from one of the Team

(Reuter’s Telegram) Dunedin, Monday

The British football team have arrived here, and met with a cordial reception.

The following is the second letter that we have received from one of the English footballers now in Australia to fulfil the engagements arranged for them there and New Zealand:-

S.S. Kaikoura, March 30, 1888

After leaving Plymouth we had very rough weather for some days, few of our men getting up to their meals, and could they only have taken the train back again Messrs. Shaw, Shrewsbury and Lillywhite’s Team would have arrived in New Zealand minus some 15 of the selected players. We got to Teneriffe [sic] on Thursday, March 15, and as the captain intended coaling here, we were allowed six hours on shore. This, all the team availed themselves of, landing on shore at 10:30pm. Much fun and amusement was caused by the natives trying to make themselves understood, the extent of their English being ‘Haf of a shilink’, of course meaning half of a shilling. Considering the cheapness of the wines and the quantity consumed, I was pleasantly surprised next morning to see all of them or rather to hear that they were all aboard again, many preferring bed the next day; cigars, cigarettes, oranges, &c., being found all over the ship. Friday, March 16th, we had a breakdown, being at a standstill for six hours. The next few hours few days were simply lovely, not a ripple on the water, the heat being 105 deg. in the sun; the sea water,         on being tested, was found to be 35 deg.

Monday, March 19th, a meeting of players was called to select officers for the team:- R. L. Seddon was selected captain without opposition; Dr Brook (Durham) sub-captain; and the committee comprising the names of Dr Smith (the old Scotch international), W. H. Thomas (Wales), S. Williams, J. Anderton (Salford) and T. Banks (Swinton). These gentlemen were also selected officials for our athletic sports, with Sir Thomas Brady as chairman, and Captain Critchley, R. N., vice-chairman. It was resolved to hold a two days’ athletic meeting, prizes by private subscription, £15 being got the first day. We made out a programme for Wednesday, March 28th, which included potato race, cock fighting, wheelbarrow race, hurdle race, high jump, chalking pig’s eye (for ladies), and skipping. Salford men were fairly in it, four out of the 11 prizes going to their credit on the first day. Below you will find names and winners of the different events.

The first day’s sport commenced with a wheelbarrow race, which was won by R. Seddon and A. Stuart, T. Kent and H. Speakman being second. The potato race was cleverly won by W. Bumby (Swinton), H. Speakman (Runcorn) being second. The third event was a race twice round the deck over 12 hurdles. W. H. Thomas (Wales) was a very hot favourite for this, but he fell in the last round, though it is very doubtful if he could have caught J. Anderton (Salford) who got to the tape first fully six yards in front of his club captain (S. Williams). The high jump was won by W. H. Thomas (Wales), who cleared 4ft. 7in., which is not a bad per­formance considering the rolling of the ship, Mr. Vallance (a passenger) being second. The cock fighting was certainly the most amusing event of the day. A ring is made of some 8 feet in circumference. Two men sit in the centre and draw up their knees under their chins, having both hands tied, and they put them over their knees. A long pole is put between the bend of the arm and under the knees, making each man almost helpless, and they have to knock, push, kick, or in any way get the other out of the ring. T. Kent (Salford) had little difficulty in winning this event, easily knocking out J. Anderton in the final. The skipping contest was won by J. Nolan (Rochdale Hornets), 363 skip, H. Speakman (Runcorn) being second with 279. The day's meeting was brought to a close by chalking the pig's eye (for ladies). Mrs Evans being first and Mrs Millar second. In the evening we had a very good concert until 9:30, afterwards dancing till 11p.m.

Thursday morning was rather rough, but we agreed to go on with the second day's programme, which was commenced with the three-legged race, the successful competitors being J. Anderton and H. Speakman, while T. Kent and S. Williams were second. The 10 minutes' go-as-you-please race was next on the list. W. H. Thomas (Wales and South London Harriers) being first, 50 yards in front of J. Nolan (Rochdale Hornets), A. J. Laing (Hawick) being third. This was a very good race, Thomas running with good judgment. The children's race was won [by] H. Sherman, Miss F. Earp being second, although we gave each a prize. Putting the weight (181bs.) caused little excitement. Dr Smith with his first put (33ft. 7in.) being out of reach of all others, Mathers (Bramley) being second, some 3ft. short. The sack race, as it usually did, caused much laughter amongst the passengers, many of the sailors greatly fancying their chances for this event only to be disappointed, H. Speakman (Runcorn) winning the first prize, and A. J. Laing (Hawick) the second. The obstacle race was considered a very good thing for one of the ship's crew, and I must say, when I saw the obstacles placed in the way of Victory, I cried off, along with many others. H. Speakman, T. Kent, and, J. Nolan were the only starters of our team, along with six of the ship's crew. The first obstructions were through wind sails, about 21 feet long, just wide enough for one man to creep through, hung across the gangway. H. Speakman coming through first covered with flour, which had been put in by some of the sailors, T. Kent coming through second quite as pale looking. Nolan and two sailors having disappeared under the wind sail, many anxious faces were watching for their appear­ance again at the other side, but they did not appear, and after watching the three men struggling amid much laughter the wind sail was let down, the men getting out almost smothered with flour. Meanwhile Speakman and Kent had gone on, and after overcoming the difficulty of getting through two barrels and a life-buoy suspended in the air by ropes, H. Speakman got in a winner by some six yards, T. Kent being second. The second day’s proceedings were brought to a close by a tug of war between 10 of our team and 10 Sailors, whom we easily defeated, much to everybody’s surprise.

The following evening we had a concert, when each of the successful competitors were presented with prize tickets to the amount of their prizes, Mrs Tebbetlaw making the presentations, with a few words of praise for each successful competitor. We expect to arrive at Capetown today (Saturday), the 31st, where we shall buy the prizes.

I have no idea yet of the matches arranged for us in New Zealand and Australia. Dr Smith tells me it is most probable we shall play matches in America on our way home, Mr Shrewsbury having been asked by a gentleman if he can arrange to play a few matches there. This I know he is trying to do, if the fixtures already made will not interfere. The fellows are patiently or rather impatiently waiting to go ashore today. Perhaps in my next I shall have something to say about their doings ashore.

Manchester Courier & Lancashire General Advertiser - Tuesday 24th April 1888


The English Football Players in Australia - Letter from one of the Team

Dunedin April 30

My last was sent to you as we were about landing at Hobart. On getting ashore we were met by a great crowd of people and officials of the different football clubs in the district, who showed their feelings by loud and continued cheering. As soon, however, as the excitement had cooled down a letter was handed me asking us to dine with the Mayor in his parlour at the Town Hall. This invitation we accepted, and after our host had given us a very hearty welcome and wished us success throughout our tour, we were not slow in testing the quality of his champagne and cigars. By 12:30 we were all on board again. Next morning we obtained permission to spend a few hours on land, and we returned again by 9:30. The ship was about to start when it was discovered our captain and another had not yet arrived. After waiting a short time the ship was about to starting, when a steam-tug was seen making its way to the ship’s side, bringing the missing ones aboard. After leaving Hobart we had fairly good weather for the next four days, arriving at Port Chalmers on Monday morning, April 23rd. Before leaving the ship Kaikoura we handed Captain Crutchley a testimonial, signed by each member of the team as follows:-

“It is with the greatest pleasure we acknowledge that unswerving devotion to duty and seamanship which have resulted in the comfort of our voyage, and its safe termination, and we ask you to accept this small testimonial as an assurance of our grateful appreciation. The memory of our Kaikoura voyage will long live after other recollections have become dim, and this is in no small degree due to your personal kindness and general disposition, and to that social affability you have ever exhibited to the passengers in general and to the football team in particular. You have never failed to show us, in a thousand different ways, how keenly your interests are centres in our doings in the colonies, and we sincerely hope that your expectations of our progress will be fully realised. For your touch of sympathy, so unmistakably expressed, please except our thanks. And now, in bidding you adieu, may we add God speed for your homeward voyage. You belong to a profession whose history teems with deeds of heroism, and acts of unparalleled bravery. Your life has been spent amidst many hardships, and much anxiety, but we sincerely pray that you may yet long be spared to share the honour of your profession and to add renown to its future records. Please accept these few words as in some way expressing our gratitude for your kindness, care, and attention, which have been so lavishly expended for our comfort on a voyage which is full of many kind memories, and which we now regret is at an end.”

This was received with many thanks and kind wishes for our success.

On arrival at Port Chalmers we were met by Dr Coultry, the president of the Otago Football Union, and a great crowd of prominent members, who greeted us with three cheers, as the Kaikoura pulled alongside the wharf, this compliment being returned by our men. We arrived at Dunedin about two o’clock and here also we were met by a large crowd of people. We had some trouble getting some difficulty in getting to the carriages that were waiting. We were driven to the Grand Hotel, and were formally welcomed to the colony by Dr Coultry, who, on behalf of the Otago Football Union, wished to welcome the English Football Team to New Zealand in general, and to Otago in particular. The game of football was played in New Zealand on the same lines as in Great Britain, under Rugby Union Rules, and was played for sport’s sake only. He was sure the other unions in the colony would vie with the Otago Union in endeavouring to make the visit of the English team a pleasant one. He concluded by proposing ‘Success to football and to the series of matches to be played by the English team.’ The toast was drunk in bumpers of champagne. Dr Smith, in acknowledging the toast, said, on behalf of the first Anglo-Australian team that had visited New Zealand, he most sincerely thanked them for the kind welcome that had been extended to them. We had a slight inkling at Cape Town of what was in store, for we received there a hearty welcome from the Cape Town organisation. We had a greater idea, however, when we reached Hobart, when we were entertained at the Town Hall by the Mayor. On landing on New Zealand soil we found ourselves heartily received by the Otago Union. After luncheon we donned our football costume and visited the Caledonian ground, where we indulged in a little practice, before a large crowd of spectators, our play being watched with great interest. Out men seem to be in excellent health, though a little out of condition. In the evening we received season tickets for all the skating rinks in New Zealand and Australia. On Tuesday morning we were driven to the Mosgiel Manufacturing Company’s Mills, some ten miles away, where we were taken in hand by the manager, Mr Morrison, who in every way did his utmost to make our visit enjoyable. It was surprising, though quite natural, the interest taken by our men in the work being done by the girls. After gathering all the men together again, a very difficult task, the manager presented our captain, R. L. Seddon, with a handsome rug of their own making. After lunch we were soon again in the carriages and back in Dunedin by six o’clock, after a most enjoyable day’s out. The evening was spent at the skating rink, which was kept open two hours extra for our special benefit. A pair of skates was given as first prize in a mile race, and most of our men started, but few finished. It was [a] great treat, as there were only two or three who had tried this difficult exercise before.

Next day, Wednesday, the Mayor sent us an invitation wishing to drive us to Portobello. This we gladly accepted. We had luncheon there, and after spending a few hours rambling about the lovely scenery, we arrived home for dinner at 6:30.

Thursday we had three different invitations, of which we preferred a cricket club concert and an oyster supper.

Friday, we were shown through the High School and Town Hall, and in the evening we had each an invitation to the Masonic ball. Here we were not long in finding that the ladies were quite as enthusiastic as the gentlemen in trying to make our first visit enjoyable.

Saturday was a beautiful day, great excitement prevailing throughout the place, and as the time approached for the match crowds of people could be seen wending their way to the grounds. Enclosed is a portion of a report of the match from the most reliable paper in the district. It was generally thought we would have little chance in the second half of the game, owing to our poor condition. In this, however, the people were very much mistaken, for it was after half-time (40 minutes each way) we had them all over the field.

Saturday evening was spent at the Rink, two prizes being offered for a race confined to the English Footballers. This was won by Harry Eagles (Salford), two laps start, W. Bumby, scratch, second.

Sunday morning was livened up by six traps, and about 10 men on horseback, driving over the hills to Blue Skin, a distance of some 16 miles, Monday we were taken out (many of us on horseback, the more wise choosing traps) to see the hunt. In the evening a banquet was given us by the Otago Football Union, the room and table being decorated in a most lovely way. Our colours being red, white, and blue, everything in the room was of the same colours, table flowers, button holes, menu tickets, and even red, white, and blue ribbon round the wine glasses.

Today (Tuesday) we were invited by the Harbour Docks Board to take a trip to the Dunedin defences, some 16 miles sail. After lunch on board, we had some three hours’ good shooting ashore, getting home in time for dinner. You cannot imagine in England the hospitality we have received during our time here. I am greatly afraid, if this kind of welcome is accorded us throughout New Zealand and Australia, many of our players will be very sorry to return to the old country again. To give an idea of our treatment, some of our men had hired a trap after practice, and on getting off at the hotel a tram-guard jumped from his car and insisted on paying the fare. Tomorrow (Wednesday) we play our return match against Otago, which includes clubs playing within 20 miles of Dunedin, and on Thursday morning start for Christchurch, a 12 hours’ journey by rail. We play there on May 5 and 9, and then proceed to Wellington, May 12 and 14, New Plymouth on May 17, Auckland May 19 and 24, after which we take a boat to Sydney, where our first match will take place on June 2nd. At Melbourne we play matches on June 16, 23, 28, and 30; Adelaide on July 7, 10, 12, and14; and Melbourne again on July 21 and 28, and August 4 and 11. These are matches which in England would be classed as county matches. We shall also play country matches between the above dates at Ballarat, Castlemain[e], &c. Afterwards we shall return to New Zealand and play many matches, including combined New Zealand.

Kent of Salford, and Speakman of Runcorn, have each been presented with a handsome travelling rug, Kent for securing the first try, and Speakman for kicking our first goal.

This evening we were surprised at receiving some three dozen walking sticks, from which we are to select one each, and the same gentleman will have a silver plate with the name of each player engraved on them.

Messrs. Shrewsbury and Lillywhite have engaged two men purposely to teach us the Victorian game of football which is so much played in Melbourne. Up to now our men have not at all taken kindly to it. From what I have seen it is a mixture of the Rugby and Association, the great idea being to catch the ball and cry ‘Mark’. For this you have a free kick, and endeavour to kick it to another of your own side, who tries to do the same, and so on. You can push with the hands, and there is no off-side whatever; or you can run with the ball, on condition that you bounce it at a distance of every seven yards, your own side being allowed to act as body-guards, pushing away those who attempt to stop the progress of the man carrying the ball.

We have just had a wire from Christchurch, informing us of the great excitement our expected visit is causing there. They have already had some dozen trial matches.

Manchester Courier & Lancashire General Advertiser - Tuesday 12th June 1888


The Tour in New Zealand - Letters from one of the Team

We have received the following letters from one of the English footballers, who are now in Australia, after their tour New Zealand:-

Christchurch, May 8th, 1888

Wednesday morning, the day for our return match with Otago, turned out beautifully fine. The Mayor having declared a half holiday, so that everybody would have a chance of seeing the game, great excitement prevailed, red, white, and blue flags being waved from the windows of our supporters. The ladies were very prominent, a great number wearing ribbon of our colours. As we drove to the ground, a great crowd of people cheered us on our way. After an exciting struggle we won the match, but only by the bare majority of one point. After the match most of our men spent the evening at the rink. There will be some wonderful feats done in the way of skating when we get back again to the old country. Thursday morning saw us all at breakfast by seven o’clock – quite an unusual time, 10:30 being more to our liking, but having to catch the eight o’clock train for Christchurch, we were obliged to perform this difficult task. On getting into the train we were each presented with a free pass for trains running this month. The journey was a very long one – 235 miles – which took exactly 12 hours, getting into Christchurch at 8p.m. Here great crowds of people met us at the station. On Friday morning we had practice, and, as usual, the rink in the evening. Saturday morning was quite a summer day, and everybody seemed to be excited and waiting for some great event; in fact, it was quite a Derby Day – men, women, and boys selling the ‘correct cards,’ giving the names, weights, and colours worn by each player. All of the team wore a different coloured badge on getting to the ground, which is splendid turf and quite level. We had a very hearty reception, continued cheers being given for the English team. Again we were victorious, this time by 14 points (four goals, two tries), to Canterbury six points (two goals). Sunday morning we, at the invitation of the Canterbury Rugby Union, drove through the country some 48 miles. Monday morning, practice; and in the afternoon we played a scratch team of old Victorian players – playing the Victorian rules – but considering they had not played for years, it was no honour to beat them by six goals to none. In the evening, Mr Robert Brough, who is here with his company playing Little Jack Sheppard, sent us a pass for his show, which all the team availed themselves of, and very enjoyable it was. This morning most of our men are off to the hunt, horses being found for them. I see by the papers here the English Rugby Football Union have sanctioned the Maori Football Team’s visit to England. This is very strange considering that only a short time ago one of their own players – Clowes, of Halifax – was dubbed a professional for receiving expenses only. The excitement caused by our visit extends throughout New Zealand. Both Wellington and Auckland had had their teams, selected for some six weeks, practising twice a week, and engaged two professional men as trainers. After tomorrow’s match (return), v Canterbury, we go on by steamer, arriving at Wellington by Friday. All our men are in good health, and getting into excellent condition.

Auckland, May 20th, 1888

Wednesday, May 9th, was the day fixed for our return match with Christchurch. Great excitement had prevailed since their easy defeat on Saturday, the general opinion being that we could win at any part of the game. The content proved to be more interesting than that of Saturday, but we won by four tries to Canterbury nothing. We were to have left Christchurch on Thursday, May 10th, for Wellington, but owing to fog the steamship Te Anau was delayed until Friday evening, getting away about 6:30p.m., everybody making for cabins, only to find there were five bunks for 26 of us. This was not at all a pleasant position, considering we had to meet Wellington, one of the strongest teams in the colonies, the following day. Anyway we had to make the best of it. Getting into Wellington at 10 o’clock on Saturday morning, we were welcomed by a crowd of officials and players from various clubs. After getting our luggage together, two waggonettes took us to our hotel, most of our men retiring to rest for some hours. The afternoon turned out beautifully fine, and great crowds of people were pouring through the entrances as we drove to the ground, which had a grand stand down one side; this was simply packed with ladies, who showed their feeling by wearing the colours of the favoured team. The least said about this match and [sic] better, Stoddart, who was disabled at Christ Church [sic], was unable to play. From the commencement it could plainly be seen that rough play was the order, for before half-time four of our men had to be carried off. The match eventually ending in a draw; a try each. I was not sorry when it was all over for, I felt, as two or three of our men remarked afterwards, ‘I’m glad I’m alive’. The evening was spent at the Skating Rink, although we had an invitation to a smoking concert, which, most of our men feeling hurt, both in body and mind, did not car to accept. Sunday morning our captain, R. L. Seddon, received a beautiful bouquet of red, white, and blue flowers with the following letter:-


“Bouquet worn by a colonial lady at the match today, presented to the captain of the English Football Team as a token of appreciation of the pleasures enjoyed by watching the play of the visitors, Wellington, Saturday, May 12, 1888”

Sunday a drive had been arranged for us, but considering the great amount of driving, travelling, &c., we had gone through, it was thought a rest would benefit our men more than anything else. Monday’s match was a great contrast to the one on Saturday, the combination having 10 of the men who played in the first match, and the others from Christ Church [sic]. This time we claimed the victory by a goal and a try to Wellington one try.

Tuesday evening we left Wellington by steamer for Taranaki, again we were unfortunate in not being able to get cabins for more than half the team. We landed at New Plymouth about 12 the following day, Wednesday, and had only just time to get lunch before we had to don the war paint. It could easily be seen this was a great day at Taranaki, flags were flying, a brass band parading the streets, and great crowds of people making their way to the ground. At quarter past two, two waggonettes, with large flags flying, drove us to the field of battle, the brass band heading the procession, followed by conveyances of every description, and some 50 to 60 ladies and gentlemen on horseback. The result of this, our easiest match, was a great surprise to everybody. We had left out of our team four or five of the best men, giving them a rest for the Auckland match, and then had all the best of the game, but was very unfortunate in not having the referee’s decision in our favour. There were four brothers on the home side, one the captain, another a player, another the umpire, and the other the referee; so between them we got out of the affair perhaps as well as we could expect, being declared beaten by one point to nil.

After the match the continual cheering ‘Taranaki every time’ could be heard until we left the quay by steamer for Auckland at 10 o’clock, being met the following day at Auckland by all the officials of the Union and a great many players, prominent amongst whom was Walter Carroll, alias Professor Carrolls, an old Salford player and Cheshire County man. From the quay we drove to Auckland, some four miles where we were met by crowds of people, who cheered and wished us a hearty welcome. It could easily be seen our visit had long been looked forward to and much spoken of. Auckland players had been in training for six weeks, having engaged two men for that purpose; being compelled to practice every day, and be in bed by nine o’clock every evening, their supporters and they themselves were quite confident they would lower the Red, White, and Blue colour. In this they were mistaken. Driving to the ground flags of the rival team’s colour were waved from the windows of most of the houses. The match was a very fast and pleasant one, and the score at the close was England six points; Auckland, three. Returning from the ground a large bouquet of red, white, and blue flowers was handed to our captain by a lady from the old country. Large and numerous were the load of passengers on trams, ’buses, carts, and all kinds of conveyances, who cheered us up to the hotel. Just before the match our captain (R. L. Seddon) received a letter addressed –

‘To the Captain of the English Football Team,

England expects that every man this day will do his duty. – Yours, &c., Great Britain.’


The interest in the game is very much more noticeable than in England. I was amused the other day to see an account in the papers of a lad who had been brought up for stealing, and on getting his sentence of seven days wanted to make a bargain with the judge to let him out to see the football match, and in return he would tell the name of a friend who had stolen a watch valued at £7 10s. Whether or not the proposal was accepted did not appear.

S.S.. Zealandia, May 29, 1888

Great excitement has prevailed throughout Auckland since their defeat on Saturday last. The return match, which was originally fixed for Wednesday was put off to Thursday, the Queen’s birthday, which is a general holiday. On Wednesday evening before the match, Professor Carrolls, better known in Manchester as Walter Carroll, gave a grand gymnastic carnival in the Opera House under the patronage of the English and Auckland football teams, and a great show it was, every part of the house being well filled. Mr A. Paul, the Swinton full back, gave an exhibition of club exercise, which fairly surprised the whole house and drew prolonged cheers, which was acknowledged by Mr Paul’s reappearance. Mr H. Eagles, Salford, and Mr H. Speakman, Runcorn, also took part in the horse exercise, Eagles showing great promise of becoming a shining star.

Thursday morning was beautifully fine. Early in the day it could easily be seen that something of importance was about to take place, conveyances of every description with men and boys hanging behind, calling out ‘This way to the football match’ could be seen making for the ground. A quarter to two saw us ready dressed and sitting on a waggonette decorated with red, white, and blue ribbon, followed by the brass band, behind them coming the Auckland Team, the houses all along the route flying colours showing their party feelings. After having our photos taken, the Auckland team took the field first, and on our putting in an appearance, gave three hearty cheers for England, which compliment we returned, finishing up with Buffalo Bill’s war cry, which seemed to amuse the spectators greatly. Our captain, Mr Seddon, having won the toss, decided to play with the wind. Auckland kicking off, it was pretty evident our men were dead out of form, for there was a lack of the great dash that was so prominent in Saturday’s match, a dropped goal and one try for the home team to seven touchdowns being the result of 90 minutes’ play. In the evening we were invited to a dance at the Pier Hotel, where everybody seemed thoroughly to enjoy themselves, the oyster and refreshment rooms (all free) adding much to the success of the affair. The fun was fast and furious up to six in the morning, when as daylight dawned they dropped off one by one in time to get home with the milk. I see the proprietor of the Auckland Star has today addressed a letter to the hon. Sec. of the Rugby Union intimating that he will have great pleasure in giving each of the Auckland players who defeated England on Thursday silver cups, with the name and position of each player engraved on each cup, as a souvenir of an event which reflects honour upon all who were engaged in it.

Altogether our stay in Auckland has been a very enjoyable one, many drives having been refused owing to our men’s lack of interest in anything so common as driving. We accepted a day’s fishing the other day, going by steamer some 15 miles out, where we anchored. Before commencing to fish a sweepstake of 2s 6d each was got up, £1 to go for the first fish caught and 27s 6d for the largest. An old hand at the game succeeded in catching the first, but Salford was to the front for the largest, Harry Eagles catching one, which he mistook for a whale, thus winning the prize of 27s 6d. After the fishing we weighed anchor, and then weighed into the saloon, where a substantial lunch was spread, each one doing his best to put away as much as possible of the good things lying about. Songs, &c., followed, half-past six bringing to a close a very pleasant and enjoyable day. The evening, as usual, was spent at lamenting over the thought of having to leave the same evening for Sydney. Still all good things must have an end. Half-past one a.m. saw us all safely on board the Zealandia, and a very rough passage we had.

The men turned out with long faces, and a sort of ‘Home, Home, Sweet Home’ expression, which is very amusing. One of our men caused much laughter the other morning when being chaffed for his melancholy look, sorrowfully remarking, “Let me put my foot on shore and you will never get me on the water again”. After the hilly part of the sea was passed, and we got into level water, the usual happy faces turned out to their meals. Evidently this was noticed by the stewards, who are all Americans, one of them remarking the other morning, “I guess it’s lucky you didn’t get on at ’Frisco, or we should have run short of provisions by now”. “I calculate you are right, but bring me another plate of roast fowl,” said one of our men in return. The dry manner this was said caused much laughter at the table.

On approaching Sydney Harbour our men were utterly dumbfounded at the magnificence of the scenery. It is certainly beyond description, and in our opinion, it maintains its reputation of being the finest harbour in the world. After being well received at the docks, carriages were waiting to convey us to the Oxford Hotel, where we were formally welcomed by the Union officials with the usual musical honours. The success of our county (Lancashire) against the Australian cricketers becoming known, was the signal for three hearty cheers, Shrewsbury being delighted with the performance of little Briggs with the ball. We intend practising tomorrow (Thursday) and will probably be able to put our best team in the field for Saturday’s match v. Sydney. Stoddart and Banks will likely don the Jersey again, neither of them of them having played in the last five or six matches. We have been rather unfortunate in getting men disabled, our captain, R. L. Seddon and Harry Eagles being the only two players who have played in every match.

Much regret was expressed by all of our team on hearing the sad end of H. J. Fletcher of the Manchester FC. The team are in excellent health, and are thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Manchester Courier & Lancashire General Advertiser - Wednesday 11th July 1888


The English Footballers in Australia - Letters from one of the Team

We have received the following letters from one of the English footballers now in Australia:

Oxford Hotel, Sydney, June 4th

We have played and won our first match in Australia, New South Wales being our opponents. Banks (Swinton) was not fit to play, though A. E. Stoddart after a rest of six weeks again donned the war paint and played a very fine game. The easy way he jumped completely over one of their backs when getting his try fairly staggered the Colonials. Bumby (Swinton) also played the most consistent game amongst the banks, his play throughout the tour being superior to his form when at home. Since our arrival we have met with the most hearty welcome at every turn, free passes being given us by the managers of all the theatres in Sydney, the Alhambra being the favourite resort, where they are playing Dorothy, with a Manchester favourite (W. Elton) as the bailiff. On Thursday afternoon we were received at the Sydney Town Hall by the Mayor. On Sunday by the invitation of the New South Wales Rugby Union, we were taken by steamer to Manly Beach, where 100 sat down to dinner, after which we sailed around the harbour. The scenery is simply lovely, and the Sydney people don’t forget to tell you of it. Today (Monday) 15 of the Fitzroy team opposed us in a practice match, playing the Victorian Rules. From what I can gather from this afternoon’s play, I am afraid our success will not be under the above rules. Tomorrow (Tuesday) we journey to Bathurst, some 165 miles, getting home to Sydney again by Thursday evening, in time to meet New South Wales in our return match on Saturday next. We are not short of supporters out here – Herbert Farr, alias ‘Buck’, the famous Swinton three-quarter back of some years ago, was at the match trying his lungs in a most severe manner. Also I recognised sporting the red, white, and blue colours, Howard Mudie, an old Broughtonian; Cass Sadler, Broughton Rangers; and J. Holt, another of the Rangers’ past players. Paul, Swinton; Bumby, Swinton; Stoddart, Blackheath; Banks, Swinton and Thomas, Wales, are all unable to play in Wednesday’s match owing to injuries, and Bathurst being a strong county our task is no easy one. Yet we hope to chronicle another victory. Many of the home papers thought it impossible under the heavy expenses for the tour to be a success. Considering, however, that the two last matches have realised £1,200 it is likely they are out of it this time.

Oxford Hotel, Sydney

Since writing my last letter we have had a very busy time. Starting for Bathurst on Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m., the journey over the Blue Mountains by the zig-zag railway was the grandest sight imaginable. One part we were 4,000ft. above the sea level, and looking through the clouds on the village below, which having the sun shining on the blue-coloured rocks, was a sight most of us will remember for some time. Getting to our destination by five o’clock, we were met by a large concourse of football officials and players. The match was a most exciting one throughout, and we eventually won by 13 goals to six. In the evening we had invitations from the Jubilee Singers, and also to a smoking concert given to our team by the Bathurst Rugby Union. The early part of the evening we visited the singers and at the interval left for the smoking concert. Thursday morning most of our players returned to Sydney, eight of us stopping to enjoy a day’s kangaroo shooting, some 10 traps driving up to the hotel. The drivers were instructed to drive us to Rock Forest, some 11 miles away. The journey was very jolly, though perhaps dangerous. The way we were driven through the woods was not very comfortable, many times it seemed to us impassable, yet nothing troubled our horses and driver. Great trunks of trees were run over without a thought. Rocks and rivers were crossed as if they were driving along Market Street, while our men were firmly grasping the carriage side, expecting every moment to be sent down the mountain side. Kent remarking that were anyone at home to see us now they would think we had all gone mad. Anyway, we were all glad to once again stand on terra firma. And now commenced one of the most amusing parts of the out. Hardly five minutes had passed before a large fire had been made and tea boiling. Two large trees were then cut down, so as to get long branches with forked ends; and soon each man was cooking his own steaks and chops. This being over, we were supplied with plenty of shot, and going in nine parties, four in each lot, we made for the North Jack Mountain. It was well worth the trip if only for the grand, wild rocky scenery, but with this it was the jolliest day we have had since our arrival in the colonies. The return was made in darkness. We carried back a large number of hares, kangaroos, quails, pigeons, and parrots, and arrived at Sydney by six o’clock on Friday morning. After a few hours rest we were out again practising the Victorian rules. Saturday we played our match with New South Wales. They had altered their team considerably, putting in some heavy forwards and leaving out C. Wade, the English International three-quarter back. The result, however, was in our favour by 18 points to six, thus winning with plenty in hand. Monday we had arranged to play 18 juniors I hardly know what qualifies as a junior in Australia – certainly not his age, or yet weight; something after the style of a youth race at home, some pretty big youths turning out. Anyway, we had little difficulty in beating them pretty easily. Tuesday we journeyed to Parramatta – some 15 miles – and played the High School (past and present), nine of them being past men.

C. Wade, the English international, and his brother being in the team. The first half of the game our men played wretchedly lazy, the school having scored two goals (10 points) to nil. This put our men on their mettle, as eventually we scored five tries (10 points), the goal kicking being wretched. The game ended in a draw. Haslam, Anderton, Stoddart, Bumby, and Seddon secured the tries. Wednesday morning, June 13, we played a scratch team of Victoria players, 18 aside, and it could be seen what knowledge we lacked in the game was equalised by the determination and condition of our men, the game ending in a win for our team by three goals to one.

Wednesday afternoon, 5:30 p.m., saw us on our way to Melbourne, 650 miles from Sydney, many friends and footballers wishing us a successful journey. By 10 o’clock most of us were in bed, having engaged a sleeping saloon. Six-thirty next morning saw us up and having breakfast in the dining-room. Here a local correspondent was getting the names of our team, and this morning appears a list of the English Football team, in which are the names of R. Churchill, Oliver Gaggs, Bianco McQuinty, &c. We arrived in Melbourne by about 11 o’clock, and we had the greatest reception we have met with throughout our tour.

Sydney, June 22

Our first match under the Victorian rules has been played and lost. The day turned out beautifully fine, and a large and fashionable crowd gathered together to watch our first attempt under their own rules; it is an entirely different game to what we are accustomed to in old England. The ground is oval-shaped, and 200 yards long by 150 wide. The men are set in position something like our Association game, only here we play 20 on each side. There is no off-side whatever, and you can fist the ball, kick it, or, in fact, do anything, so long as you don’t throw it one to the other. The chief feature of the game is what here is called marking, that is to catch the ball, for which a free kick is obtained, either place or drop kick. The play then is to kick it forward to another of your own side, who endeavours to make a catch, and so it is worked from one end of the ground to the other. They are very smart at ‘little marks’, which is done by a player picking the ball from the ground and just touching it with his foot to another of his side standing close to him, thus giving him a free kick at goal, which is composed of two uprights, about the same distance apart as the Rugby players use. Wednesday, June 21st, being the next match on our list, we started from Melbourne at 4:15 on Tuesday afternoon. Arriving at Bendigo, we had the usual reception by large crowds of football enthusiasts who welcomes us with cheers. Wednesday morning turned out wretchedly wet. At 11 o’clock we were formally welcomed by the Mayor at the Town Hall. He proposed the health of our team in a very flattering speech, afterwards showing us through the building. After this it was discovered we had little time to dress for the match, which we won by five goals 16 behinds to Bendigo one goal 14 behinds.

At eight o’clock we adjourned to the skating rink, where three races were to be run, one for the ladies, another for the Bendigo football players, and also one for the English players. The place was simply crammed, the space for skating being reduced to about a quarter of its usual size. Kent, of Salford F.C., had little difficulty in winning first prize. Thursday morning, 12 of the team were taken down the ‘New Chain’ Gold Mines. By 12 o’clock we were in the train again on our way to Castlemain [sic], some 50 miles away, where we had to play Castlemain [sic] and District. About 2:30 it commenced to rain, interfering very much with the attendance of spectators. Notwithstanding this drawback there was a fair number present. The ground was a very poor one, and, therefore, made good play uncertain, still the game was very fast and evenly contested, ending in a draw of one goal each. We got to Melbourne by 11:30.

T. Banks (Swinton), A. Penketh and T. Kent (Salford) have not been able to play for some time, owing to injuries; consequently all the men available were called upon to play in every match, and have to play four times in the week. You can very easily guess it comes pretty hard, especially on the followers in this game, who are supposed to be with the ball wherever it is. Next Saturday’s match against South Melbourne is, perhaps, the best match we have to play. Although we cannot expect to win, I hope we shall show some improvement on last Saturday’s play. The weather throughout our tour has been very summerlike, and when we hear the Colonials complaining if it being cold it brings a smile on our faces.

Manchester Courier & Lancashire General Advertiser - Wednesday 1st August 1888


The English Footballers in Australia - Letters from one of the Team

We have received the following further letters from one of the English football players now in Australia:-

Craig’s Royal Hotel, Ballarat, June 29, 1888

Since my last letter our second match in Melbourne has been played and lost, and though defeated our performance was a great surprise to the many spectators who had watched our play the Saturday before against Carlton. South Melbourne are this year considered the best team in Australia, and to be beaten seven goals to three is a most decided improvement, which is some encouragement for future success under the Victorian rules. Tuesday morning, 11:30 a.m., saw us going by train to play against Maryborough, some 150 miles up country. By 3:15 we were at our destination, and after the usual formal welcome by the Mayor drove to the Bull and Mouth Hotel where we were to stay for a short time. Wednesday morning many of our men were taken a drive to gold mines by the Mayor, others preferring to sit before a large fire enjoying a smoke. After a very good game we suffered a defeat in the match, the score being Maryborough four goals to England three. After a banquet many of us were shown through the Chinese encampment; the miserable way in which these people exist is pitiable. We walked through most of the houses. In England this interference in their domestic life would not be tolerated. Here not a word was spoken, as we walked round the houses as if they were our own. 12:15 a.m. Thursday morning, June 28, saw us once more in the train on our way to Ballarat, ‘The City of Gold’. Here we had to undergo the reception by the Mayor at the Town Hall, then to the Royal Hotel where after a little lunch we had a pleasant drive round the lakes and through the botanical gardens and fernery, a sight which is never seen in the garden at home. After dinner the Mayor sent an invite to our players to attend a grand ball in honour of the Mayor’s return. This we had to refuse. This morning, Friday, June29th, is fixed for our match v. Ballarat.

Most of our men are gone out for a drive with many of the Ballarat officials. Three o’clock saw us walking on the football ground amidst loud cheers from some 6,000 to 7,000 spectators. Winning the toss, Seddon kicked off with the wind and the sun at our backs. The game throughout was very fast indeed, the kicking and catching of our men being far behind what they have shown in the last two or three matches. It is hard to forget the rules played by most of us since children, consequently having to forfeit many a good chance by keeping the ball too long, or running with the ball over the stated distance (seven yards). We are severely handicapped in all our matches, having some men in the team who could never play the Australian game. We are now off to the banquet given to our team by the Ballarat Football Club.

South Australian Club Hotel, Adelaide, July 9th

It is now four months since we boarded the steamer Kaikoura at Gravesend for New Zealand, and I can safely say there is not a single one in the whole crowd that at any time regrets coming out. You have only to be in their company a very short time to see how every man is thoroughly enjoying himself, and to look at their faces to see the great good it has done most of our team. After leaving Ballarat on Friday last we had a six hours’ ride to Melbourne, where we landed at 11:45 p.m. Saturday following, the Fitzroy Club, one of the strongest teams in the colonies, had to be met. The game had not commenced long before it could plainly be seen that our men were ‘stale’, which did not wear off until close to the finish of the game, being easily defeated. After the match we were entertained at a banquet. Tuesday we met a strong club, the Port Melbourne, and made a very satisfactory show against them, in fact, the general opinion was, we had the best of it from the start. Wednesday afternoon, four o’clock, saw us in the train on our way to Adelaide a distance of some 500 miles, arriving in by 10:30 a.m. We were met by representatives of the different clubs, who gave us a hearty welcome. Considering we had been travelling 181/2 hours, we might easily be forgiven for being glad when it was over, and we could get to the hotel. Thursday evening, the usual rinking was indulged in. Friday morning we received a public reception in the Town Hall.

After introducing our team to the Mayor, he welcomed us to Adelaide in very flattering words, and commented on the very fine body of men before him, and especially on the picture of health that could be seen in every face. Our captain having responded, we adjourned to the Mayor’s Parlour, where wine and cakes were provided. This pleasant part of the reception being over, a few more speeches were made. On Saturday afternoon we played South Adelaide, and suffered defeat. T. Banks (Swinton), who has not played for some two months, is now well, and will be able to take his place in the team. Bumby, some of his Swinton friends will hardly know, as he has put on over a stone in weight.

South Australian Club Hotel, Adelaide, July 16

The summer-like weather still lingers with us, making our tour most enjoyable. The great coats we were advised to bring out have not seen daylight for many a long time, it being more like a long Midsummer holiday. Monday evening last; The Adelaide Cricket Club invited our players to their annual dinner, where we were accorded a most enthusiastic reception. Tuesday was fixed for our second match in Adelaide, which we won, the score being – England, eight goals; Port Adelaide, seven goals. Wednesday morning: A few of us went down to practice, and the evening was spent with some hundred members of the Adelaide Young Men’s Christian Association. Thursday our third match was played, defeat again dogging our footsteps. Friday was an off day, which we had to ourselves. Saturday’s match resulted in another defeat for our team, Norwood scoring eight goals to our three. Sunday morning our two coaches, drawn by five horses in each, drew up to the hotel, and some 15 minutes later about 65 of us started for a drive of 18 miles over the hills, scenery being almost indescribable. Today (Monday) we play a Rugby game against 20 of all comers. On Saturday they were practising for the match, our captain being referee. I believe they have many good players among them, and considering the heavy handicap, it should prove a very close game. After the match a banquet will be given by the Mayor of Adelaide, at his house, and tomorrow (Tuesday) we leave for Horsham, then to Ballarat, and back again to Melbourne (some 600 miles) by Saturday night.

Manchester Courier & Lancashire General Advertiser - Wednesday 22nd August 1888


The English Footballers in Australia - Letter by the Late Mr Seddon

The following letter, from the pen of the late Mr R. L. Seddon, who was our correspondent with the English Football Team, was despatched to us from Melbourne about three weeks before the Lancashire player met with his untimely death by drowning:-

Old White Hart Hotel, Melbourne, July 1888

Sir, - Since my last letter we have had rather a busy time. On Monday, July 16, our Fifteen played Twenty of South Australia, under the Rugby Union Rules, and quite a treat it was to get back once more to our good old game of Rugby. A large number of spectators assembled to witness the play, perhaps more out of curiosity than their love of our game. It is unfortunate the game was so one-sided, taking away all the interest and excitement of a really good close game. We had no difficulty whatever in scoring whenever we chose, the match eventually ending in a victory for our team by seven goals, seven tries, &c., to one goal dropped from the field of play. After the match were entertained by the Mayor of Adelaide at his house, where a grand banquet was prepared in honour of the Englishmen’s visit to Adelaide.

Tuesday, July 17th, at 3:30p.m., saw us gathered together on the Adelaide Station, and, after a vast amount of hand-shaking and good wishes from 150 friends who had come to see us off, we started on our way to Horsham. Unfortunately, we had to leave Chapman, one of our players, behind, having damaged his arm. Since, I hear he has been taken to a private hospital. Arriving at Horsham soon after midnight, we were driven to an hotel, and in a very short time were in the land of dreams. Next day (three o’clock) saw us on the ground, and after the usual three cheers for England and the English cheers for Horsham our captain, having won the toss, kicked off with the wind. Amidst the cries of ‘Go it, John Bull,’ and ‘Well played English Beef,’ it was soon seen that English beef was too good for Australian mutton, for in a short time we scored two goals, and when time was called the score stood – England, six goals; Horsham, nil. The early part of the evening was spent at a dance. Very soon we took our leave and met the members of Horsham at a ‘smoking concert’ given for our benefit. After the usual speeches, songs &c. were indulged in. Leaving Horsham at 12 o’clock on Thursday we arrived at Ballarat late in the evening, being met by many officials of the Association. We were driven some to the Club Hotel and others to the ‘George’.

Friday, July 20, turned out very wet and cold for our match against Ballarat Imperial. The ground is certainly the worst I ever saw either here or at home – large pools of water every few yards. It was great fun to the spectators to see the ball floating in one of these pools and a man make a rush to kick it out, waiting the result. As often as not the ball would have the best of the encounter, for the man could be seen spluttering about full length in the water, amidst the laughter of a thousand people, while the ball was still floating on the water, a yard or two from where it was so rashly attacked. The farce ended in a victory for the ‘Imps’ by five goals to one.

The following day July 21, we had again to play on the same ground, which had improved greatly, the water having disappeared. Our opponents were a better team, still we succeeded in winning by five goals to four, getting home again to Melbourne at 11:30p.m. the same evening. Tuesday, the 24th, at 3:30p.m., saw us once more on the way to Sandhurst, where we arrived about 8:30. After dinner the ‘rink’ was visited. Driving down the ground the following day large numbers of the crowd sported the ‘red, white, and blue’ ladies especially being to the fore. Out of every six of the fair sex five were sporting our colours. The match was a very exciting one and fast. At half-time we were unfortunate in losing Stuart (Dewsbury) who had two ribs broken, and later on Nolan (Rochdale Hornets) had to retire with a disabled shoulder. This handicapped us severely, still we just managed to win by three goals to two. In the evening we were entertained by the gentlemen of Sandhurst at a large banquet.

Thursday, the 26th, we had to refuse a day’s shooting, which had been arranged for us, 12 o’clock seeing us on our way to Kyneton, minus Dr Smith, T. Banks (Swinton), Nolan, Stuart, Chapman and Lawler, all of whom are on the injured list. Getting into Kyneton Station it was evident our visit had caused much excitement, and though the weekly holiday was only the day before, the Mayor had declared this as a holiday in honour of the English visitors. We were compelled to borrow two men in order to complete a full team. The match was very keen and fast throughout, travelling from one end of the field to the other in rapid succession. Up to the finish it was very doubtful which side would win, however ‘no side’ brought us another victory by two goals to one. A banquet at which 130 sat down was given by the Kyneton Association, after which some of us left by the nine o’clock train for Melbourne, the majority staying for a day’s rabbit shooting. Saturday next we play our last match under the Victorian rules and on Wednesday meet a team selected by the Melbourne Rugby Union (members of which they had made all our team). Considering the many trial games our opponents have had for this match, our task will be no light one. The Melbourne Exhibition is to be opened the same day, for which we have had tickets sent us. The following day we leave for Sydney, some 600 miles, and later a few days for Bathurst and Brisbane, a much longer journey. Still a few hundred miles here is considered a short trip.

Manchester Courier & Lancashire General Advertiser - Tuesday 4th September 1888


The English Footballers in Australia - Another Letter by the Late Mr Seddon

The following letter, from the pen of the late Mr R. L. Seddon, was despatched to us from Bathurst exactly a week before the well-known Lancashire player met with his untimely death by drowning:-

Royal Hotel, Bathurst, August 8th, 1888

Our last match in Melbourne was played on Saturday last against Essendon. After performing so well up in the country, a very close game was looked forward to, which would have been realised had our team been in anything like the condition they have shown in previous matches. Consequently our seven goals to three defeat was rather a surprise to many who had followed closely our doings. Monday, July 30, our match v. Melbourne, under the Rugby Union rules, was played. Owing to a great match under the Victorian rules being played on the next ground between the two best clubs in Melbourne, the number of spectators was not so large as was expected. Some 5,000 people gathered round the ropes, more out of curiosity perhaps than their love of the game. The scrummages seem to be a great source of amusement to them: but the match was not a good exhibition of the Rugby game. The ground being wet, the play was confined mostly to the forwards, passing being a great uncertainty. The score at the finish stood: England three goals, Melbourne one goal. For the Melbourne team Scarborough, Halifax, and Martin, centre three-quarter, showed grand form, and Cowan, the Cheshire county forward, played a rattling good forward game. Most of the team were players from England or New Zealand.

Tuesday morning we got permission to look through the Melbourne International Exhibition. Here you see great archways made of bales of wool, with sheep’s heads looking out between them also archways of wine bottles, with fancy labels of different colours, being so arranged as to give a very different effect. Another that was much admired was a house made from a large barrel, the pillar, &c., being made up of smaller ones. Lancashire had a very good show, and was in a more advanced state than any other in the exhibition, thanks to the exertion of Mr Scarborough, the old Halifax player, who has this portion under his care. Briggs and Co., Cannon Street, Manchester, have three cases of silk thread, &c., the combination of different shades giving a very pretty effect.

J. and J. Worrall, Salford, have a very neatly designed show case of dyed velveteens and printed twills. Tootal, Broadhurst and Co., Mosley Street, Manchester is also ably represented by such well-known firms as Horrockses, Miller, and Co., white calicoes, Crowdson, Crosses and Co., showing the same line of goods; J.F. and H. Roberts, Portland Street, Richard Haworth, High Street, Rylands and Co., Sir Elkanah Armitage, Mosely Street and Barlow and Jones, Portland Street, who are all showing cases of Manchester goods. The Rossendale printing Company are very prominent with a fine show of printed cretonnes, the printers of Manchester being represented by the above firm. Thomas Hoyle and Sons, Parker Street, McNaughtan and Thom. And Edmund Potter

Wednesday morning, August 1 – Melbourne was alive with people, a general holiday being proclaimed for the opening of the exhibition. The crowd reminded me very much of Whit-Monday at home. The tradesmen were to the fore with models of their trades, the governor heading the procession. England was represented by a few red, white, and blue football jerseys hanging from the hotel windows past which the affair had to journey. Thursday, August 2nd, at five o’clock, we bid good-bye to a large number at the station, Tom Scarborough, of Halifax, and his brother, along with Chapman, an old English International, and Cowan, the Cheshire county player, being amongst the crowd. A few minutes later, amidst hearty cheers, the engine steamed out of Melbourne on its way to Sydney, where we arrived next day, Friday, at 12:30p.m.

We had not long been arrived, before I received letters from four different theatres, inviting us to see their ‘shows’ at any time during our stay in Sydney. This we availed ourselves of on Friday evening, Charles Warner, in Drink, being our choice for the first night. Saturday we played New South Wales under the Rugby Union Rules. The game ended in our favour by 16 points to 21, Stoddart and Bumby being far and away ahead of any others on our side. Among the spectators I noticed C. Warner (the actor), who attracted notice by the enthusiastic manner in which he applauded good play, especially on our side. The evening was spent at the theatre, Modern Wives and Lights o’ London being on the boards.

Sunday, August 5th, was a very quiet day, most of us in the afternoon visiting the new Peninsular and Oriental steamship Arcadia, which is in dock here.

Monday, August 6th, England v. Sydney Grammar School (past and present) was played. Having Bumby (Swinton), Banks (Swinton), Penketh (Isle of Man), Haslam (Batley), and another on the injured list, our team was not a very rosy one. One of the Old Boys having travelled some miles expecting he was on their team, was allowed to play not wishing to disappoint him making their side; 16 men to our 15. The game ultimately ended in a draw, each side scoring a try.

Tuesday, by 8:30a.m., a most unusual hour for us to be abroad, we drove to the station, catching the nine o’clock train for Bathurst. On reaching the Zig-zag railway, over the blue mountains, all were eager to view the magnificent scenery through which we were passing, at one time being enveloped in a cloud on the mountain top and soon after to be steaming into a valley, with rugged rocks towering high above us. We arrived at Bathurst close upon six o’clock, amidst the cheers of some hundred people who had assembled to welcome us. Being driven to the hotel, the Mayor welcomed us, with the usual flattering speech and toast to the English Football Team. This being responded to, our men were not slow to wash and get ready for dinner.

To-day (August 8) turned out a beautiful summerlike day. The Bathurst team having been in training for some months, and knowing we are without Bumby (Swinton), Banks (Swinton), Nolan (Rochdale Hornets), Penketh (Isle of Man), and Stuart (Dewsbury), who are still on the injured list, greatly fancied their chance of winning. The game commenced soon after three o’clock. Having won the toss, we kicked off with a slight wind at our backs. The game had not been going long before Haslam missed picking up, letting in one of the Bathurst forwards who secured the first try, the kick at goal being successful amidst loud and prolonged cheers. This early reverse seemed to put new life into our men, and from some good passing between the forwards Williams secured a try. The position being a difficult one, Stoddart failed at goal. Soon after, Kent following well up quickly fell upon the ball, scoring the second try, Stoddart placing a goal from near the touch line. Soon after this half-time was called. Bathurst: 1 goal (5 points); England: 1 goal, 1 try (7 points). After the usual five minutes’ rest, the ball was kicked off by Paul, the Bathurst three-quarter returning to Haslam, who again missed picking up the ball, giving the home team another try, from which they kicked a beautiful goal, the score standing Bathurst 10 points, England seven. Pulling themselves together, Anderton made a fast run along the line, being thrown into touch near the goal line. He quickly returned the ball into play again, and after some neat and quick passing, Kent got his second try, Stoddart placing goal No. 2 to our credit. This seemed to be the last straw for the home team. Their exertion in the first half began to tell upon them – and we had pretty much our own way from this point to the finish, tried being secured by Dr Brooks, Stoddart, Eagles, and Anderton. Eventually we won by 20 points to 10, besides having some 12 touchdowns to nil. Speakman, for his first time a half-back, played a good game, Stoddart and Dr Brooks being the best at three-quarter back, for the forwards, especially in the second half playing a very fast game. The passing of our team is undoubtedly our success, for the ball goes through some 10 or 12 hands before a try is secured. Owing to the very fine weather they have had here for many months, the ground are like playing on the roads, and all our men more or less are cut and bruised all over the body and legs. If this kind of thing goes on much longer we shall have some difficulty in getting a team together of any kind. To-day we had every man available playing, and a little bad luck will place us in a very lamentable position. Most of our team are now off to bed, having a good night’s rest before the kangaroo hunt to-morrow. We start from here at six o’clock, some 100 of us going out. All the English players are enjoying themselves immensely.

Manchester Courier & Lancashire General Advertiser - Monday 17th September 1888


The English Footballers in Australia - Mr R L Seddon’s Last Letter

To the Editor of the ‘Manchester Courier’

Sir, - The enclosed letter, addressed to you, was, amongst other things, found in Mr R. L. Seddon’s breast pocket immediately after his death, and had evidently been written this morning, just previous to the unfortunate circumstance, by which he lost his life, occurred, and I thought it advisable to forward same on to you. We went out (Stoddart and I) in company with Seddon, to the Hunter River, to have a row and a swim, and he embarked in a racing outrigger and left us lying in an old punt, smoking and taking it easy, and the next thing we found him dead, about half a mile up the river from whence he started. You will have heard of the sad occurrence long before this reaches you, but I must say it has cast a gloom over the whole town, and the people have shown the utmost kindness to Stoddart and myself in making all arrangements with regard to the inquest, which is now going on as I am writing. A gentleman named Hulme, a native of Manchester, has just left a beautiful wreath.

Yours, &c.,

Jack Anderton

Royal Hotel, Maitland, N.S.W.,

August 15, 1888

P.S.- The remainder of the team had left for Newcastle about 50 minutes before the unfortunate accident took place.


To the Editor of the Manchester Courier’

Dear sir, - My last letter was sent to you after playing Bathurst. The following morning was looked forward to with great interest, being the day fixed for a day’s kangaroo hunting on the mountains. Six o’clock next morning saw about 15 waggonettes at the hotel ready to convey us to the field of slaughter. Half an hour later we were on our way, each being supplied with guns and shot. After two hours’ drive we arrived at the forest, and very soon all was bustle and commotion. In a very short time fires were lit, tea brewing in ‘bellies’ and each man cooking his own steak on the end of a long stick. It would have surprised a careful housewife at home to see the vast quantity of steak so quickly disappear, besides fowls, tinned beef, cheese, &c. Soon after we started for the forest. The beaters, 20 in number all mounted, formed a half circle, the shooters forming another. The beaters drove the kangaroos and hares falling to our guns. After this we moved on to the mountains, where we were again successful. The scenery here was simply wonderful. I was so lost in my admiration that I had almost forgotten the shooting and rambled down the rocks, but was brought up short by hearing a gun shot and feeling a few pellets on my back. In a very short time I had forgotten the scenery and rushed for safety. The day’s outing was one of the most enjoyable we have had. Getting the spoil together we found that our day’s sport resulted in bagging about 120 kangaroos and hares. Many of these were skinned, some of us carrying home the skins as trophies. Thanking Mr and Mrs Grist, Mr and Mrs Schofield and daughters (on whose land we had been shooting,) for the kind manner in which they had assisted in making our day’s out so enjoyable, Mr Grist replied, saying it was a far greater pleasure to him to see his own countrymen enjoy themselves so much, than it was for us to have the day’s shooting. Should we ever be that way again, he would feel proud to have the chance of entertaining us at his house. After giving him and his three hearty cheers, which re-echoed throughout the wood, we were soon in the conveyances and on our way back to Bathurst. We started for Sydney the next morning at 10:30, arriving at our destination at 5:30 p.m. on Friday evening.

Saturday turned out a very hot day. Our match v. Sydney University had caused some excitement, especially among the schools. This team, which really are the past and present players, have not been defeated for two years, and have scored 200 points against 12, a very good record, and when it was found that we were without Bumby (Swinton), Nolan (Rochdale), half-backs, and Stuart (Dewsbury), Penketh (Isle of Man), and Banks (Swinton), forwards, their excitement had worked up to such a pitch that it was hard to have victory so cruelly snatched from them when they fancied how secure they had it within their grasp. The spectators also took the defeat with very bad grace.

Sunday most of the team were glad to rest. Owing to the very fine weather the grounds are dreadfully hard, making the games much faster and the falls much more dangerous. C. Mathers met with a nasty twist of the knee, and many others are scratched and skinned in some way or other.

Monday afternoon (five o’clock) saw us on our way to Maitland, part of the journey by train and part by steamer. The sail was a most beautiful sight, which will long be remembered by most of our players. Sailing up the river, a bright moon was out, and creeks and tall mountains covered with trees on each side of us, while we were smoking and singing as if we had not a care in the whole wide world. Half-past 12 was the time we got to the Royal Hotel, Maitland, getting to bed without delay.

Our match against the Northern District under the Victorian rules was played in 78 degrees of heat. This is the winter weather we are enjoying out here. Our men don’t seem to enter into this game with any spirit whatever. The consequence was we were defeated by eight goals to four, though Stoddart missed three of four (an unusual occurrence) very easy goals. In the evening our team were invited to the skating rink, where a special night was given in honour of the English football players, which most of us accepted. Inside the place was beautifully decorated with red, white, and blue (our colours), and ‘welcomes’ hanging all about the place. To-day all the team are going out ‘driving and boating’. The rowing party will also enjoy themselves by stripping and having about an hour’s fun in the water.

To-night we leave for Newcastle a coal-mining district, playing Newcastle and ‘Northern Districts’ under the Rugby rules. From what I can hear they are very strong, and without the six good men we have on the injured list, we shall have all our work cut out to win. From Newcastle we have two days and nights’ journey by train to Brisbane, where we play some three or four matches in the districts.

Mr Lillywhite has had a very pressing letter asking us to visit Rockhampton, some 400 miles further, and play two matches, but our time being so fully occupied I hardly think it probable we shall visit them. The weather since we landed has been beautiful and summerlike. Here, in Maitland, it has only rained twice for the last six months. Out in ‘Newcastle’ they are coming out on strike next week for more money, their salaries now being £16 per month. What would some of our colliers at home think of wages like this? – Yours, &c.

R. L. Seddon

Maitland, August 15, 1888

Manchester Courier & Lancashire General Advertiser - Monday 24th September 1888


After the tour, Arthur Shrewsbury arrived back at his Nottingham home on 12th November 1888, fully fourteen months after leaving with his cricket team to tour down under and staying on to manage the footballers. He was very quickly sort out by the local paper for his opinions of the football tour.

Interview with Arthur Shrewsbury

With the object of eliciting some information interesting to our readers, we had a brief interview with the crack batsman yesterday morning. After his fourth and longest trip to the Colonies, it must be confessed that Shrewsbury looks in better health than ever, and, judging present appearances, we should say he is likely to be a prominent figure wherever cricketers congregate for some time to come. Out of consideration for other people’s feelings, Arthur Shrewsbury is perhaps not always so communicative to the interviewer as we should like, but yesterday he was very obliging, and, in answer to our questions, said that they were very unfortunate during the last cricket season in Australia in having such wet weather at Sydney. With finer weather the tour would have been an unmistakable success, but, as it was. The promoters got through very well, and the amount of money reported as lost, viz., £1,000, was most certainly incorrect. The project of taking a Rugby football team to Australia and New Zealand had been under consideration for a couple of years. He and Lillywhite had made inquiries from people who were likely to know — from gentlemen like Mr. T. Horan ("Felix"), the sporting editor of the Australasian, and Mr. H. Hedley, of the Age, and others, from which they thought that the venture would be a success, and that the Rugbeians would be able to play the Victorian game. To a large extent that had proved correct, but, added Shrewsbury, "All the players in the Victorian game are good kickers, while Rugby forwards are not supposed to kick, and hence some of our best players at Rugby were the worst at the Victorian game." He considered New Zealand a most enthusiastic home of Rugby football, and, making due allowance for the disparity in population, they had bigger gates in New Zealand than even the Victorians had at Melbourne, which is saying a good deal. In New Zealand, the physique of the men, their strength, and stamina, more resembled their best athletes at home in England, while the footballers of Australia appeared to be of a more delicate mould, and did not possess the robustness and strength of the New Zealanders. The Cornstalks did not seem constituted to play the Rugby game ; they were not sufficiently heavy for forwards. It was no exaggeration to say that their men could play the Victorian game 100 per cent, better than the Australians could play Rugby. Taking the football tour all through, the British team played a remarkably even game. Stoddart, perhaps, excited the greatest admiration, and there was actually a leading article in one of the Christ Church newspapers praising his play. What they so admired in Stoddart as a centre three-quarter back was his artistic and clever play, without any roughness. He seemed to have reduced football more to a science than anything else.

Eagles played a very fine game all through. He took remarkably great care of himself, and was always in the very best of condition. Shrewsbury continued :—" I don't like to single out any particular individuals, but I can't overlook Bob Seddon, who was one of the most hard-working. He always set such a splendid example. He studied the Victorian game. He was the first to suggest practices, and he was always ready and willing to explain the intricacies of it to the team. He was an admirable captain, and one of the most conscientious and honourable men I ever met. You don't find many Bob Seddons. All the team were very much upset by his death, and at first we could not believe it. Shrewsbury added that some who went out improved upon their English reputation, while others did not play quite up to what was expected of them. Still they worked admirably together, and considering that there were 21 men always on the move, they harmonised well. All have expressed themselves as very pleased with the trip, and many of them would go out again to-morrow if opportunity presented itself. Despite the splendid reception they had had, he hardly thought the promoters were likely to take out another team, as the enthusiasm for that sort of thing died away, and the expenses were very large. The financial result was much more satisfactory than that of the cricket venture. It had hardly answered expectations, but still there would be no loss, he and his partners having cleared their expenses. If he had good health he might take another trip to the Colonies with a cricket team, but it would not be just yet, and indeed the longer the interval the more likely was it to be remunerative. During his travels in the Colonies he had advanced the business interests of the concern, and returned with some very considerable orders from leading Australian houses. Before closing this part of the narrative we must not forget to remark that while the Melbourne Club did all they Could to thwart the scheme in many little annoying ways, Shrewsbury wished to acknowledge the great Assistance he received from Mr. Hedley, of The Age. Shrewsbury added that he proposed to play cricket next season as usual; and, indeed, if he could have pleased himself he would have returned to assist Notts, during last summer. It would not have been right to have left James Lilywhite to do such laborious work as was entailed by the trip, while he (Shrewsbury), with an equal interest in the affair, slunk away. In fact an agreement was entered into that he should stay, and he could not break it. He (Shrewsbury) was rather surprised to see Notts. so low down in the list of cricket counties, although some of the team had not played up to their usual form, owing to the wet wickets. He considered it some of the team had not played up to their usual form, owing to the wet wickets. He considered it was remarkable that Alfred Shaw was not called upon to play, for on the form displayed by the rest of the team, he would have gone in second or third wicket down, and on wet wickets he must have been about the first in the bowling averages. Besides, his great judgment of the game would have been invaluable in a season of this description.

Shrewsbury will shortly receive an illuminated address and a handsome testimonial from the residents of the county, while he is to be invited to other festivities, for the people of Nottingham are very glad to see their crack batsman back safe and sound once again.

Nottingham Evening Post - Wednesday 14th November 1888 Page 4, Column 1


On their return many of the tourist were sought out for press interviews. Even though they had just completed a gruelling 54-match, eight-month tour some, such as Salford forward Harry Eagles, were back on the field of play within a week of returning home.

The English Footballers in Australia - Interview with Mr H. Eagles

Several members of the Rugby football team, which sailed from London on the 7th March, in this year for Australia, have now returned to this country, and it is believed that within the next few days the whole of the players will have reached home. Amongst those who have already returned is Mr H. Eagles, the well-known Salford forward player, who has kindly favoured us with the following particulars of the passage out, the tour in Australia and New Zealand, and the return journey. The team, numbering 21 players, sailed from London on the 7th of March, in the steamship Kaikoura, for Port Chambers. On the outward journey the men engaged in a variety of exercises, with the object of keeping themselves in condition. Football, on a somewhat restricted scale, was indulged in with rather disastrous results, for three of the balls were kicked into the sea and lost. Canvas balls, made on the vessel, were then substituted for the leather ones, but these shared the same fate as their predecessors. The men were in the habit of assembling every afternoon about four o’clock for practice, the exercises engaged in including boxing, skipping-rope, club drill, and jumping. Sports were also organised on board ship, the programme consisting of three-legged races, sack races, cock fighting, wheel-barrow races, high jumping, skipping-rope contests, and ‘chalking the pig’s eye,’ (for the ladies). There was also a tug-of-war, ‘Footballers v. Sailors,’ in which the latter were easily beaten. Though these sports were organised by the team, Mr East, the chief officer, took an active personal interest in the matter, and worked hard in bringing the athletic festival to a successful issue. The various races were joined in by the passengers, crew, and footballers, though the prizes in almost all the events went to the members of the team. On their arrival at Port Chambers, the Englishmen were met by Shrewsbury, Lil[l]ywhite and Stoddart, the well-known cricketers, and the members of the Otago Rugby Union. The team had not had the opportunity of playing together, and without much delay they got to work on the Caledonian ground at Dunedin, where they played several practise games. They then turned their attention to the Victorian form of football, which differs entirely from both the English Rugby and Association games. In the Victorian game, there is no ‘offside’ play, and the men are permitted to fist the ball backwards or forwards, though to secure a goal the ball must be kicked through the posts, which are similar to those used in this country, with the exception that the crossbar is dispensed with. If a player has possession of, and is running with the ball, he must bounce it at every seven yards. The ball must not be thrown, and if this rule is violated a free kick is given to the nearest player of the opposing team. One of the principal tactics of the game is known as ‘little marks,’ and it was their smartness and cleverness in this feature of the game which enabled the Victorians to so frequently defeat their English opponents.

A ‘little mark’ consists in a swift turn of the body when a player is hotly pressed by his opponents, and an equally swift passage of the ball to another man who has a better opportunity of kicking or of making a better use of the ball. It is also possible to make a ‘little mark’ while the ball is still in the air, the player then simply jumping up and, with his hand, knocking it to another member of his own team. The Victorian players were also exceedingly smart kickers, goals, in some of the matches being kicked by then at a distance of 75 yards. The English players did not seem to care for the game at all, and they were on this account, perhaps, a little loose in their practice and play, the consequence being that they were beaten in the majority of the games. The matches, in which the teams were composed of 20 men on each side, were arranged for the team by Mr Lil[l]ywhite and others, and consisted of 20 Victorian games and 33 ordinary Rugby games. The Victorian games were played at Melbourne, Sandhurst, Castlemaine, Maryborough, Ballarat, Adelaide, Norwoods, Maitland, Horsham and Kyneton, the English team proving victors in seven of the matches, being defeated in 12, and drawing one. The Rugby games took place in New Zealand and Australia, the towns visited being Otago, Christchurch, Wellington, New Plymouth, Auckland, Sydney, Bathurst, Parramatta, Brisbane, Ipswich, Newcastle, Napier, Masterton, Dunedin, South Island, Hawera, Taranaki, and Wanganeu, In these matches the Englishmen were more at home, and succeeded in winning the larger proportion of the games. Of the 33 games played, the visitors won 26, lost two, and drew five. At all the places which they visited, the English players were most cordially welcomed. They were invariably received by the Mayor of the town, and every kindness, civility, and hospitality extended to them. When they arrived in Melbourne they were driven to the town hall, where they were welcomed by the Mayor. A musical recital was also given in their honour, one of the items on the programme including the playing of ‘Home, sweet home,’ kindly thoughtfulness which was much appreciated by the visitors. Every place of amusement was thrown open to them, while pleasant little excursions were also arranged for their benefit. The Garden Gully Gold Mine was explored, and rabbit and kangaroo shooting were also enjoyed by those of the team who could handle a rifle as well as foot a ball. The members of the team are thoroughly satisfied with the treatment which was meted out to them by the people when gathered to watch them play. In all the matches they were treated with fairness and impartiality by the spectators, and, though some of the teams to whom they were opposed played a very strong game, they were never subjected to roughness or ill-usage. The Englishmen found that the players of Rugby football do not yet fully understand the rules of the game, and that they were at least three years behind them in point of play.

But they have interest and enthusiasm, and what they have gathered from association with the English players, it may be assumed that they will soon remedy their shortcomings and make advances towards greater efficiency. The colonists also expressed their satisfaction with the visit of the Englishmen, and it is not improbable that in the near future a team of New Zealand Rugby football players will come over to England for a tour of matches. A much better game is played in New Zealand than in Australia, but in all parts of the colonies visited by the English team they found the liveliest interest taken in the proceedings of the various local clubs. The football fever runs as high in some parts of the colonies as it does in our own county of Lancaster; the women following the game with a keenness equal to that shown by the men. In some towns the residents regularly wear the colour of their favourite club, much the same as people in this country don the light or dark blue on the day of the University Boat Race. The degree of interest taken in the game in the colonies may be more fully appreciated in this country when it is stated that the Mayor of a town will sometimes proclaim a half-day holiday to afford the inhabitants an opportunity of witnessing a particular match.

It would not be fitting to close this brief account of the tour of the English team, without an allusion to the sad and untimely death of its captain, Mr R. L. Seddon, with whom Mr Eagles was on terms of the closest friendship, their knowledge of each other extending over a period of 20 years. No adequate explanation can be given of the accident which resulted in Mr Seddon’s death. Several theories have been put forward, the latest of which is that he must have gone out in his skiff with two left-handed sculls. As Mr Seddon was an experienced oarsman he is hardly likely to have committed such a fault as this, and that theory may therefore be at once dismissed. It appears that Mr Seddon had reached the shore within two yards, and that he then sank in about 12ft. of water. The first intimation of the occurrence was given by a boy on the river bank to Stoddart and Anderton, who were following Seddon in an ordinary rowing boat at a distance of about half a mile. The boy informed them that a man was drowning, and though Stoddart and Anderton pulled hard and fast, when they had turned the bend of the river and reached the place where the accident occurred, nothing was to be seen but the upturned skiff in which Seddon had passed them some short time before laughing and joking. The death of Seddon caused great grief amongst the members of the team, by whom he was much admired and respected, and also amongst the residents of Maitland, where the accident took place on the 15th August, who showed the esteem in which they held the unfortunate gentleman by attending his funeral on the 16th of August in large numbers. The body was followed to the grave by the members of the English team, 180 members of the local football clubs, and by about 50 private carriages.

The members of the team had a very quiet passage home, the weather experienced being of a favourable character until they reached the Channel, when they became enveloped in a thick fog, out of which, however, they emerged safely. As they passed through the tropics, the team engaged in a game of cricket, and throughout the voyage, they enjoyed themselves in a quiet sort of way.

Mr Eagles will at once resume his position as forward in the Salford team, and will take part in the match on Saturday.

Manchester Courier & Lancashire General Advertiser - Thursday 15th November 1888



R. L. Seddon – 1888 Tour Captain


© Howard Peacocok, 2013
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