eb’s ‘play~errz’ No.5


Ernest  ‘nudger  Needham

ernest needham

.. step into my time tardis today and

travel with me to another era

when “association football”

was still a gentleman’s game

with caps, cheers and handshakes

that were offered not negotiated?!?

… not by agents or even governing bodies…

On stepping out of my tardis, let me take you

down past a handsome collection of oaks

to Bramall Lane by the cricket pitch

where play the United

Sheffield United

Sheffield United

Ernest Needham was born in Chesterfield at Whittington Moor in 1873 and began his career as a winger with Waverly FC and Stavely Wanderers before joining the Blades at 18 years of age. Injuries during his 1st season with United forced team changes and he was put to half-back where he blossomed and developed rapidly, eventually earning the title ‘prince of half backs.

This title was earned no doubt due to his ability to make a pass and ‘construct’ in a fairly early-days ‘midfield’ role while also possessing a keen eye and a sturdy ‘destructive’ tackle that made him defensively sound. His short, sturdy build allied to immense stamina meant he was fast, resolute and brave. These characteristics helped him become the star of a side that eventually won the Championship in 1897/98 season and twice finished Runners-Up in 97 and 99.

Needham, by now captain of the side, was pleased to lift the FA Cup in 2 of the 3 finals United featured in during a 4 year period between 1899 and 1902 and he had become a regular for England after his debut in 1894. Ernest became the 1st United player to captain England in 1901 and by the time he retired he had made 554 appearances for the Blades, scored 65 goals and captained the side through the golden era of Sheffield United’s history. An era lasting nearly 20 years while he collected 16 International caps, scoring 3 goals and represented the Football League 10 times.

Writer Alfred Gibson wrote  ~ ‘“This is one of the secrets of his greatness for very seldom when he has the ball is he deprived of it, whilst the accuracy of his wing passes, and the telling force of his punches straight across the field to an unprotected wing, spell danger to any kind of defence.”

The dual purpose of Bramall Lane which was utilised by both United and Yorkshire Cricket Club was well suited to someone who possessed varied sporting talents as many did in those days. Ernest Needham was also a fine cricketer although he played for his home county of Derbyshire for whom he made 186 appearances scoring 6550 runs at an average of 20.15 and made a top score of 159.

Bramall Lane cricket

Worthy as all these talents are

edenbray actually includes Ernest Needham

in his unique list of playerz for his skill with the pen

rather than his feet, head

or even his soft batting hands

仝  仝  仝

For it was in 1901 at the height of his playing career

that Ernest took it into his head to complete

a 90-page written pamphlet entitled

‘ASSOCIATION FOOTBALL’

which booklet still remains a unique record

and appreciation of the game we love and live for.

A valuable historic archive

written with sincerity and honesty

almost at the birth of the modern game

while the premier league of its day

was still gaining in prestige and momentum.

In many ways its story can never

be told more beautifully

either in description, memory or verse

and consequently Ernest’s’ book will remain

a classic appreciation of The Beautiful Game

Association Football

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About edenbray

I've always enjoyed writing and thats all I want to do... .. . I’m not sure why I stopped writing, was it 9/11? .. . Eden Bray is born ugly, wet and covered in blood, mucous and bodily functions. The effluence of my short life .. . I'm a Writer and Artist - since 1966, now a Blogger ~ I write lots of poems, written essays, articles, reviews, opinion + comment .. . please join the shebang but more importantly please leave me a marker with a comment for my ego and my encouragement :- thanks, edenbray View all posts by edenbray

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