Thursday 5 April 2018

T'Old Tin Lid - an unusual piece of rugby memoribilia

The picture below of t'old tin lid appeared on Twitter recently, via a re-tweet from our friend Hugh Barrow, of Glasgow Accies

It caught my imagination, because top right is an Edinburgh Accies player, whose name is undecipherable. Who was that?

A couple of days later, a rare bit of spare time, some playing with the image on the laptop and some searches on t’internet, has answered most of my questions. And surprisingly came closer to my home than I would have believed!

So, what have I found?

Top left is James ‘Jim' Valentine, an English rugby union player who represented England, Lancashire, and Swinton as a rugby union player, before Swinton became part of the Northern Union and he turned to the professional game. He was a prolific scorer, during the 1889–1890 season with 61 tries, 5 drop goals and 35 goals. He gained his first of four international caps in 1890 against Wales and made 60 appearances for Lancashire. 

The middle three are Blackburn Rovers players - Jack Southworth, William Townley and John Forbes, all who played in the 1891 FA Cup Final at Kennington Oval, where Blackburn won 3–1, their second consecutive FA Cup Final victory. Southworth and Townley both scoring for Blackburn.

Southworth also played for Everton and was capped three times for England. He was the top scorer in the Football League in 1890–91. Townley had the honour of scoring the first hat-trick in the history of the FA Cup final and his lasting legacy is defined as an important pioneer of the game in Germany. And Forbes was a Scottish footballer, who began his career as a forward with Star of Leven, later joining Vale of Leven. He was capped five times for Scotland and played two Scottish Cup Finals while at Vale of Leven, both were lost.

Bottom left middle is Samuel Moses James Woods, an Australian, who played for both Australia and England at Test cricket, for England at rugby union, and soccer and hockey at county level. At Cambridge, he gained his Rugby Blue in each of 1888, 1889 and 1900 Varsity games.

Like ‘Jim’ Valentine above, he made his England debut against Wales at Dewsbury in 1890 and gained 13 caps, captaining England in 1892, 1893 and all three games in 1895.

Woods was was one of the founder members of the Barbarians, formed by William Percy Carpmael in 1890 and played over 30 times for Somerset

The bottom right middle is Paul Robert Clauss, a German born rugby player who was educated at Loretto and played for Oxford University in 1889, 1890 and 1891 (as captain) Varsity games and also Birkenhead Park. He represented Scotland on six occasions between 1891 and 1895 and was part of two Triple Crown winning teams making an impressive international start in the 1891 championship, scoring in all three Scotland games.

Like Woods above, Clauss was a founder member of the Barbarians. He was also one of the original British Isles team that toured South Africa in 1891, which was captained by an Accie, Bill Maclagan.

And finally the Accie, the top right player, is Matthew ‘Saxon' McEwan - identified through another tin lid on t’internet and the likeness to his picture in our 150th Anniversary Book.

McEwan played for Accies from the early 1880s to the early 1890s, during which he was capped 15 times by Scotland and was captain in 1891 when Scotland won the Triple Crown.

He was vice-president of the SRU in 1894-95, but emigrated to USA to take over as a financial manager, before he could move on to be President. He was recognised for all his work at Accies when the clock in the old pavilion was named after him - the clock which has been repaired and is in storage to be re-installed in the development of Raeburn Place. 

MC McEwan died in Chicago in 1899, at the tragically young age of 33.

Doing the research I realised there were a number of ‘coincidences’ between some of these players and my family.

In 1885/6 Accies played Bradford at Raeburn Place in an infamous match that ‘wasn’t for the faint hearted’. It was 'just too vigorous’ said one watcher! Both sides had an number of current or future internationalists, two of them were the above ‘Saxon’ McEwan for Accies and a James F ‘Jimmy’ Wright for Bradford - my father's, uncle.

That was not all, because as I mention above "Jim” Valentine and Samuel Woods both made their debut for England against Wales in 1890 - which just happens to be the very game that ‘Jimmy’ Wright, made his debut for England as well.

What a coincidence!!

John Wright, 128 years later.


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