Wednesday, February 6, 2013


The first JACKIE ROBINSON was also instrumental in leading his club to a baseball championship - in England. However, he did this all the while starring as one of England's top soccer players.

With all due respect to the American Baseball's Jackie Robinson (Brooklyn Dodgers), this Derby's Jack Robinson was a 2-sport star long before Bo Jackson (Royals / Raiders). Robinson was also selected to play for England's National Soccer Team with a 8W-1T-2L record.
1901 Ogden's Robinson "rookie" card
Robinson won 8 of the 11 times he was called to guard the England nets winning the British Championship 4 times (1898, 1899, 1901 and 1903). He appeared in 2 F.A. Cup Finals with Southampton F.C. and later went to America to play his soccer. In an age where the goalkeepers wore the same jersey as the field players, Robinson appeared on his 1st card (see above) in the stripes of Southampton Saints.
He won 2 baseball titles with Derby County in 1895 and 1897.
Derby County F.C.
Through the efforts of industrialist Sir Francis Ley, a baseball park was built at Derby after his visit to the U.S. in 1889. He met and was later assisted by the American sporting pioneer and publisher - A.G. SPAULDING. The stadium, to be known as the BASEBALL GROUND, was home to both the fledgling American pastime and its famed soccer team. It was closed in 2003.
1890 Baseball Champions - Derby County club included Robinson and Bloomer.
In addition to Robinson (3rd base), one of England's all-time greats - STEVE BLOOMER, played 2nd base.
1906 Ogdens' Club Colours with Steve Bloomer's likeness.
Bloomer's fame has transended into American folklore as his card rightly appears in last year's Upper Deck Goodwin Champions baseball set (see last week). 
Robinson toured Europe with Southampton and made this impression as quoted on wikipedia:
"In that year (1899) the first English professionals came over, Southampton F.C. They beat the Viennese city eleven 6-0 and their goalkeeper, Robinson, showed for the first time how to tackle low shots by flying through the air with the greatest of ease. Until this day (1930) that type of save is called a 'Robinsonade' in Austria and Central Europe. After the match, Robinson gave an exhibition. His goal was bombarded simultaneously with six balls and he blocked most of the shots."

Sunday, February 3, 2013


As the year progresses, I am making headway on my project to collect original cards of the 100 greatest FOOTBALL LEAGUE players. As of today, I have obtained 86 % of the list. The hardest ones to find are the pre-war issues. But I did score on one of late.
It may seem like a small achievement when looking at Harry Hibbs' trophies, but the former Birmingham goal keeper accomplished more than just an F.A. Cup runners up medal in his career..
1935 Churchman Cigarettes caricature
In an age when the England National Team selection was done by committee rather than a Manager, Hibbs made an astonishing 25 appearences for his country. On 10 of those occasion he shutout his opponents.
1931 Lambert & Butler illustration
While 25 caps can be earned today in 2 World Cups and 2 Qualifying seriess, it was not so before World War II.
A closer look at England's goal keepers from 1920 up to the years before the war, Hibbs surpasses all his rivals and dwarfs almost all others. Sam Hardy was England's No. 1 through March 1920. However, 21 England goalies stood between the posts before Harry Hibbs debut in November 1929. He was a cousin of Harold Pearson* who also kept goal for England.
Sam Hardy - 21 caps (last cap March 1920)
Jack Brown - 6 caps
Ted Hufton - 6 caps
Jack Hacking - 3 caps 
Benjamin Olney - 2 caps
Dan Tremeling - 1 cap
Albert  McInroy - 1 cap
George Ashmore - 1 cap
Ted Taylor - 8 caps
Richard Pym - 3 caps
Howard Baker - 2 caps
Freddie Fox - 1 cap
Harry Hardy - 1 cap
James Mitchell - 1 cap
Ronald Sewell - 6 caps
Ernest Williams - 2 caps
Jack Alderson - 1 cap
Jerry Dawson - 2 caps
Teddy Davidson - 1 cap
Harold Gough - 1 cap
Bert Coleman - 1 cap
Jack Mew - 1 cap
Harry Hibbs - 25 caps (first cap Novemeber 1929)
1934 Ardath Cigarettes portrait
This revolving door continued after even after Hibbs last international match (February 1936). The singular mainstay was Vic Woodley, with 19 appearences, until the halt of international football in 1939.
Hugh Turner - 2 caps
Harold Pearson - 1 cap*
Frank Moss - 4 caps
Ted Sager - 4 caps
Henry Holdcroft - 2 caps
George Tweedy - 1 cap
Vic Woodley - 19 caps
Harry Hibbs held the England record for appearences for a goalkeeper until it was broken by Ron Springett in 1962. Harry Hibbs played 358 league games with the club. The club shows its best run in the pre-wars years staying in Division 1 his entire career. During this time, Birmingham reached its only pre-war F.A. Cup Final in 1931.