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15th October 1887. The Golden Years of Football.


The FA Cup competition which started in 1871 soon drew huge attendances, and large scores, as Today in 1887 when the 26 goals Preston North End scored against Hyde, without reply in the First Round, remains the best scoring performance in a competitive fixture.

Arsenal. Highbury 1928.

In those days of mis-matched teams many early clubs were based on the local church or works, or notably like Newcastle, and Spurs, (the Hotspur Cricket Club), from cricket foundations.

Work’s teams included the Royal Arsenal (1886), which developed from two Notts Forest players who moved south to work there. Manchester Utd, originally Newton Heath in 1878, was a side of Lancashire and Yorkshire rail-workers which went bankrupt in 1902.

West Ham’s early incarnation was as Thames Ironworks FC; Coventry City originated from cycle workers. Ironically the game had been the mainstay of Oxbridge and the public schools which were increasingly to turn to Rugby.

The creation of the ‘League’ with all its original members from the north and midlands, with its HQ in Preston, changed the character of the clubs and the men who turned out for them. Notts County was the first professional club being founded in 1862.

After the formation of a 2nd Division in 1892 football became so popular that by 1911 there were only four towns with a population of over 10,000 which didn’t have a professional team in England: Birkenhead, South Shields, Gateshead and Halifax.

The 2nd Division was formed by absorbing the Football Alliance and promotion and relegation were decided by a system of test-matches and this lasted until 1898 when Stoke and Burnley realised that if they both drew they would both be in Division 1. Not surprisingly suspicion was aroused and a system of two up and down promotion and relegation came in.

These early years saw small towns fielding teams in Division 2 such as Burton Swifts which ended 6th in a League headed by Small Heath and which included Ardwick; in the next season a team calling themselves Md Ironopolis were included.

In the following season 1894/5 in Division 2, Burton was represented by Swifts and Wanderers probably the only town to field two teams. (1)

1920/1 saw Division 3 and the next season Division 4.

The average attendance at a First Division match in the early 20th century was over 15,000. Big money had to be regulated and smaller clubs given a sporting chance and in 1901 the maximum wage was introduced which it set at £4 per week.

Players were bought and sold like commodities and received a ‘signing on fee’; the wealthy clubs who might have been able to command the best players, were limited to £10.

Bloomer, front left.






The attempt to limit transfer fees was highlighted in 1905 when the first £1,000 player was voted against. Footballers became ‘personalities’ and though never rich, became national and local heroes, such as Steve Bloomer, featuring large in the press: true ‘national treasures’.


(1) Burton-on-Trent, Staffs., the Author’s home town.



dailymail.2.6.2017 article.




14th October 1322. Push for Scottish Independence.

The English King Edward II had inherited from his father expensive wars against Scotland. 

If Bannockburn secured the Scots’ ability to fight another day, this was shown Today in 1322 with the Battle of Old Byland aka Byland Moor, Yorks., sending a message to Edward that in this first war of independence Robert I (Bruce) could strike in England too.

The leader of the English was John of Bretagne, 1st earl of Richmond, in a battle which took place on Scawton Moor between Rievaulx and Byland Abbeys. However Bretagne was captured and ransomed, in a disastrous conflict for Edward.

Effigy of Edward II at Gloucester Cathedral.

Edward had enough troubles at home which saw some senior English nobles led by Thomas, earl of Lancaster thinking of allying with the Scots, (1)

Thomas the King’s first cousin and in landed terms probably the most powerful baron in England, was leader of the baronial opposition to Edward and one of the Lords Ordainers (the reforms demanded were known as The Ordinance), who back in November 1311 demanded banishment of the King’s favourite, Piers Gaveston, and the establishment of a baronial oligarchy (2).

Gaveston had returned illegally in January 1312 and arrested in Scarborough Castle by a baronial army was taken via Oxfordshire to Warwick where Thomas of Lancaster sentenced him to death.

However killing Gaveston instead of healing government, owing to the law of unforeseen consequnces, did the opposite, and a rift arose between Lancaster’s supporters and the earl of Pembroke who considered an act of quasi-judicial murder had happened in causing the death of another earl.(3)

However the Despensers were more profligate and malevolent than Gaveston and their influence pushed the country into civil war which initially went the King’s way with his victory over Thomas 2nd earl of Lancaster at Boroughbridge (16.3.1322), who was beheaded outside Pontefract Castle.

At Boroughbridge Edward stifled the rebel threat of Lancaster, Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford and Baron de Clifford: now Edward could devote his time to the Scots.

So he headed north for a second sortie against Bruce who undertook a scorhed earth policy. Edward returned south dispirited with an hungry army whilst the Scots moved south collecting men en-route whilst making sporadic attacks in the north East.

Ever since Bannockburn in 1314 the Scots had taken the initiative in incursions into northern England in attempts towards independence, after which Edward’s reign went from bad to worse including  several years of flood and famine from 1315. Also hydra-headed arose new favourites: the Hugh Despensers, the Elder and Younger.

Queen Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer rebelled, and Edward’s rule collapsed, as they invaded from the Continent in 1326 killing the Despensers and forcing the abdication of Edward in January 1327 in favour of the teenage Edward III.

(1) Thomas was the eldest son of Edmund Crouchback,1st earl of Lancaster, having inherited the titles of earls of Lancaster, Leicester, and that of Derby from the attainted de Ferrers.

(2) Humphrey de Bohun 4th earl of Hereford, a member of the Anglo-Norman Marcher Lords, was one of the Ordainers concerned against the excesses of Edward II. Months later Edward II was murdered at Berkeley Castle.

(3) East of Leek Wootton near Warwick on a wood-shrouded hillside (Blacklow Hill) is a cross by J.C. Jackson (1832) raised on piers states: ‘In the Hollow of this Rock/ Was beheaded/ On the 17 Day of July, 1312/ By Barons lawless as himself, Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall; The Minion of a hateful King: In Life and Death, A memorable Instance of Misrule’.




13th October 1399. Lust for Power.

Bolingbroke claims throne 1399, surrounded by Lords Temporal and Spiritual. British Library. Contemporary MS. Harleian Collection.

The deposition of Yorkist, Richard II in September 1399 by his Lancastrian cousin Henry Bolingbroke was always to be a contentious issue exposing the division between the two Houses, but also with kingship being inextricably associated, not just with legitimacy, but with the notion of Divine Right. 

Coronation of Henry IV.15thc MS. Froissart Chronicles.

Richard was alwas vulnerable, coming to the throne as a minor, which placed power, as Regent, in the hands of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, father to Bolingbroke, as the eldest of Richard’s surviving uncles.

It was in September 1398 that Richard made the fatal mistake of banishing Bolingbroke for 10 years along with Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, with the threat that, ‘If he returns within 10 years he shall be hanged and beheaded’.

Henry sought refuge at the French court and by March 1399 he was declared a traitor and banned for life and his pardon for Radcot Bridge, revoked.(1)

This was a catalyst for invasion, whilst Richard was in Ireland, when Henry was met by the pro-Lancastrian earl of Northumberland and the Archbishop of Canterbury. He seized the throne as Henry IV on 30th September, to be crowned Today 13th October.(2)

After the coronation Richard was imprisoned at Pontefract Castle, Yorks., where he died in mysterious circumstances.

Silver half-groat of Henry IV. York Museum Trust.

When Richard II was deposed by his cousin the Duke of Lancaster, Henry Bolynbroke, in 1399, there was no undisputed contender for the throne, as Richard had no sons. Roger Mortimer, 4th earl of March, had been briefly Heir Presumptive in 1385, but by strict primogeniture the throne should have gone to the descendant of Edward III’s second son Lionel.

The matter was finally resolved in the Wars of the Roses.

(1) At Radcot Bridge in Oxfordshire the anti-Richard, Lords Appellant defeated the King’s favourite Robert de Vere.

(2) Henry IV was born on 15th April, 1367 at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire and reigned from 30th September 1399 to his death on 20th March 1413. He married twice: firstly Mary de Bohun at Rochford Hall, Essex in 1381, who died in 1394, and on 7th February 1403 to Joanna of Navarre.

Ref: Michael D. Miller.



12th October 1984. Party Conferences.

‘When blind loyalty meets crazed dissent resulting in disease and a ghastly rash on the body politic’: party-political conferences.(1)

Today in 1984 Patrick Magee of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb and killed and maimed senior figures of the Conservative Party at the Grand Hotel in Brighton whilst massing for their annual conference.

The political parties of Britain have traditionally held their annual conferences at seaside resorts and none have been more popular than Brighton and Blackpool since 1945.

The Labour Party has been to Scarborough, (very popular), Margate, Bournemouth, London and Manchester, with Morecombe and Liverpool trailing behind.

Bournemouth, has naturally been popular with the Tories, along with Llandudno, London, Manchester, Birmingham and Scarborough, with Margate only once.

In the new millennium  Brighton was most popular then Manchester, Bournemouth with Blackpool and Liverpool one each.

By 2012 Tories were going to Manchester; Labour to Liverpool and Lib/Dems to Birmingham which shows a marked trend away from the seaside and reflects on the new conference and hotel facilities available elsewhere. It also suggests a more earnest approach rather than a ‘jolly’ by the sea in those more austere times.

Early Labour from 1900 met in London under chairman W. Steadman, until 1905, when  conferences were held at centres of industry such as Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Bradford, whilst the new Labour Party under Arthur Henderson held their first meeting in London.

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian wrote about, ‘the hysterical, alcohol-fuelled atmosphere of  misjudgments, not least by journalists, being disorientated by being corralled far from London’, citing many examples.


In 1981 after a catastrophhic conference the Press predicted Margaret Thatcher would be gone by Christmas with many lining up to take over; she survived another nine years.

In 1994 John Major was to be replaced by Portillo; he fought on until 1997 after which Tony Blair’s ‘show-biz’ conferences rendered it possible he would lead for life. Well it seemed like it until Gordon Brown took over.

Theresa May 2017






David Cameron in 2015 could do no wrong; he was gone in a year. After Theresa May’s  disastrous 2017 Manchester conference her leadership was pronouncd over after struggling through a speech with a bad cough, invasion of the rostrum by someone presenting a P45 (unemployment card), and slogan letters falling-off behind her like confetti, she was deemed unfit to govern and would be gone by Christmas: she struggles on in the morass of Brexit.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 26: Dennis Skinner MP speaks during the Labour Party conference on September 26, 2018 in Liverpool, England. The four-day annual Labour Party Conference takes place at the Arena and Convention Centre in Liverpool and is expected to attract thousands of delegates and features keynote speeches from party politicians and over 450 fringe events (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

Jenkins concluded that, ‘conferences used to be rallying calls to reinforce each other’s prejudices, but never for the electorate; loyalty was the glue. Now delegates edge by the wall trying to spot Caesar’s assassins.

(1) Simon Jenkins in the Guardian. 1.10.2018.


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11th October 1521. Defender of the Faith.

The Act of Settlement in 1701 settled the Protestant Succession on the House of Hanover in the absence of heirs to William and Mary or Anne.

One anomaly was that despite Henry VIII being made Defender of the Faith only for his lifetime, it has been retained ever since, even after 1701 made it illegal for a monarch to adopt the Catholic faith.

It was in 1521 that the Medici Pope, Leo X excommunicated Luther and Today granted Henry VIII, King of England and Ireland, the title ‘Defender of the Faith’: (Fide Defenser). His first wife Katherine of Aragon had the title in her own right.

It was confirmed by a Bull in 1524 of Clement VII, for writing a treatise, Assertio Septem Sacramentorum ( assertion of seven sacraments) against Martin Luther, the first book written and put into print by an English king.

However Henry made the decision in 1530 to separate from Rome and by the Act of Supremacy style himself Head of the Church in England.

As a result the title was revoked by Paul III and the King was excommunicated, despite Henry retaining every Catholic doctrine and practice except Papal Supremacy.

Gold medal of Queen Mary I with legend Maria I Reg. Angl. Franc et Hib Fedei Defensatrix.

In 1537 the Scottish king James V was granted the title, the papacy hoping that this would help the king to resist moving down the path of his uncle Henry. Before this James IV had been granted the title Protector and Defender of the Faith, however both titles never became part of the full titles of the Scottish monarchy.

During the republican, Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell and his successor Richard in the 1650s, though claiming divine sanction they never claimed the title.

After the Pope’s revocation of Defender of the Faith, in 1544 the English parliament reconferred the title on Henry and his successors and thus still appears on coins as the abbreviation F.D or Fid. Def. 



10th October 1940. Forgotten Heroes.

‘It is doubtful if we could have defeated the Germans, at any rate as quickly as we did…if it had not been for assistance which the Royal Navy received from the fishing community’: Sir Reginald Bacon speaking in WWI. (1)

What was said then applied just as much in World War II as evidenced by the trawler Warwick Deeping which was built in 1934 by Cochrane & Sons Ships of Selby for The Newington Steam Trawling Company of Hull and which at the outbreak of war in 1939, in common with other trawlers, became an anti-submarine patrol vessel.

Warwick Deeping in wartime configuration.

It was armed with a single 4 inches gun, machine guns and and depth-charges and ASDIC becoming part of 17 anti-submarine Group Portsmouth. However at 22.30 on this night in 1940 while on patrol in the Channel was fired on by five German Torpedo Boats. The boat was abandoned, but all 22 crew rescued.

Sir Galahad a Round-Table class trawler was a Dan-Layer.

The Royal Navy Patrol Section (RNPS) developed from pre-war Royal Naval Reserve Trawler Section which manned at its peak 1637 corvettes, conventional trawlers, fuel carriers, motor launches and naval-seaplane tenders. In all 260 were lost with 15,000 killed.(2)

In World War I (WWI) the Royal Navy commissioned about 3,000 fishing boats, half were steam drifters used as mooring for barrage balloons, boom-defence and minesweeping, convoy escort and anti-sub patrol.

Not surprisingly Scottish fishermen were to serve in large numbers and in WWII 10,000 were to serve. with fishing boat skippers becoming temporary skippers in the Royal Navy Reserve.

Little known are the ‘Dan-Layer’ trawlers which working with mine-sweeper flotillas placed ‘Dans’ or buoys in areas which had been mine-swept.

(1) Sir Reginald Hugh Spencer Bacon commanded the Dover Patrol 1915-17 to prevent U-boats access to the Channel thus facilitating moving men and arms to France, important as U-boat activity increased in 1916.

(2) HM Trawler Classes were many and were built by many ship-builders: Ardrossan Dockyard Company, Cochrane and Sons, Selby, Cook Welton & Gemmell, Beverley, Ferguson Bros Ltd, Port Glasgow, Goole Shipbuilding & Repair Co., Hall Russell & Co Aberdeen, A/J Inglis Ltd, Glasgow, Henry Robb Ltd, Leith and Smith & Co of South Bank on Tees.


9th October 1991. Islam Resurgent.

A memorial service was held Today in 1991 in St Paul’s Cathedral, to commemorate Operation ‘Desert Storm’ the liberation of Kuwait after attempts had failed to dislodge Saddam Hussein.

It was on 16th January in 1991 that the responsibilty for action devolved on Prime Minister John Major after Thatcher’s resignation the previous November.

It was action which repeated that of 1961 when independent Kuwait was first annexed to which  we responded by Operation Vintage, a Task Force including 42 Commando supported by HMS.s Bulwark and Victorious later relieved by Centaur supported by destroyers and frigates, a forgotten conflict which ended in 1963.

The later 1991 allied invasion force, on a much larger scale, numbered 700,000 with contingents from 30 countries; 420,000 from USA; 25,000 from Britain, with 2,200 combat aircraft. Iraq responded with attacking nearby Israel with unreliable Scud missiles.

This Gulf War was a turning point,as the broad Islamist alliance fell apart, as the House of Saudi was accused of blasphemy, for allowing deployment of American and ‘infidel’ soldiers on their territory, showing how tribal Islam is.

In 1992 the fall of Kabul to the Afghan Mujahideen led to the demobilisation of foreign volunteers which provided an army of ‘jihadists’, soldiers of fortune, who spread throughout the Muslim world especially to Egypt, Algeria and Bosnia, before turning on the west.

A gulf opened between those seeking a democratic rapprochement and those caught up in a ‘jihad’ (holy-war).

Unrest goes back to the middle-ages when the Umayyad Caliphate was replaced by the Abbasids who ruled Baghdad until 1258 to be replaced in Egypt by the Ottomans in 1517, with the title Caliph being borne by the Ottoman Sultans until abolished in 1924.

Historically the Islamist movement was an attempt to arrest a decline after their eviction from Spain in 1492 allied to the long retreat of the Ottoman Empire which begun in the 17th century.

In the post-Ottoman Empire, Iraq was created by the British in 1920 by unifying three provinces of the defunct Muslim Empire constituting areas of Shia and Sunni Muslims. In the north, Kurdistan was under a League of Nations Mandate, but revolt required the deployment of three army divisions and resulted in 2,000 British casualties.

The British solution was to experiment with ‘air control’ and secondly to create an internal security force drawn from Iraqi minorities. The Levies set up in 1922 consisted of separate units of Marsh Arabs, Kurds and ex Turkish, Christian Assyrians, detested by Turks and the local Muslims. They were to make excellent soldiers and maintained the peace and sustained their authority in 1941 when there was an attempt to ally with Hitler.(1)

The Islamist revival, from the end of colonisation to the late 1980s, was driven by demographic upheaval, (in many other countries it resulted in Communism), frustrated as they were with first generation leaders. It was financed by Saudi oil after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war and the Iranian (Persian) revolution of 1979. (2)

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 was rallying point for a pro-West, Islamist, American led movement, Saudi financed, as an alternative to communism, but collapsed due to factional infightening of Afghan warlords. Eventually after 10 years the Russians pulled out and the UN moved in.

In 2003 Tony Blair, some say as a poodle of President Bush, went to war again against Iraq, this time bent on regime change; we also later got involved, not for the first time, in Afghanistan.

(1)  A native British army was also created from Arabs who had served in the old Ottoman Empire and assumed external and internal defence after 1930.

(2) When the pro-west Emperor of Persia was deposed.