23 January 1909


This week’s entry begins with a follow-up to last week’s news about Manchester City. This is what the much respected John Lewis had to say in Birmingham’s Sporting Mail 100 years ago:

“Only a joke! – such is the official announcement of the Manchester City directors after enquiring for a couple of hours into the ‘charge ‘against Blair of refusing to play in the Cup-tie against Tottenham Hotspur ‘because he could not have a bonus.’ The incident should serve as a timely warning for professionals that the mere suspicion that men prefer their own selfish interests to that of their clubs is sufficient to arouse popular indignation. Birmingham is not the only city in which players run the risk of ‘killing the goose that lays the golden eggs’ – as Mr. Johnstone puts it. It may be football in Birmingham is at a lower ebb than usual, simply because the men are not good enough; in which case the remedy may be found. But there can, I think, be nothing but disaster in front of clubs when their supporters get it into their heads that players are giving them less than their best in exchange for their wages. Nearly everywhere we hear the complaint that football is not nearly so well played as it was a dozen years ago, but the working man, whose nimble sixpence keeps clubs on their legs, doesn’t mind so long that his champions are ‘triers.’ When he suspects that players are ‘holding back for bets,’ or playing ‘ca’ canny’ for bonuses, the man who works 54 hours per week for less than half the wage the footballer gets for an hour and a half of more or less pleasant exercise, will kick.”

These were the Birmingham & District League results that day:

Aston Villa Reserves 10, Kidderminster Harriers 1 (att. 7,000); Burton United 2, Brierley Hill Alliance 0; Shrewsbury Town 2, West Bromwich Albion Reserves 1; Stafford Rangers 2, Worcester City 0; Stoke 3, Crewe Alexandra 4 (att. 10,000); Stourbridge 4, Dudley 0;   Walsall 3, Halesowen 2; Wrexham 2, Birmingham Reserves 1; Wolverhampton Wanderers Reserves 2, Wellington Town 1. League leaders were Villa with 34 points from 20 games, with Crewe second on 25 points with three games in hand.


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