Modern Non-League History
England Representative Football 1940s
In the ‘Forties’ the difference between amateurs and professionals in British Sport was, massive. If a young footballer signed professional forms and received money for playing, he could not return to an amateur team without a permit to play for that single team. For example, he couldn’t return to play for an old boys eleven, a sunday club, a works team and senior amateur club. He had to obtain a permit to play for just the one of his choice.
The professionals in cricket had even more problems, as for many years county pros often had separate changing rooms from their amateur team mates! Even in 1984, when I was invited to join Somerset County Cricket club as their marketing executive I couldn’t attend marketing committee meetings as the members were amateur county committeemen and I was being paid!
Amateur footballers had been playing international matches since 1906, when an England side beat Ireland 2-1 and France 15-0. Wales soon enjoyed fixtures and, although Scotland also joined the circle in 1926, Wales weren’t happy to play Ireland, so the official British Championship wasn’t launched until 1954. By then we had played France, Holland and West Germany as ‘friendly’ internationals on a regular basis, so a four nations tournament was welcomed and in the first season Northern Ireland stormed to an emphatic in with England and Wales managing a mere three points between them.
The full international team was selected by an FA Committee so The Amateurs’ selections were probably also influenced by committee members with loyalties to varying counties and leagues. The actual management team, led by Norman Creek a famous Corinthian and full international, could also have a look at possible internationals in FA XI representative matches played against the three senior military services, Oxford and Cambridge Universities and the Universities Athletic Union.
England developed two regional hot beds of amateur football with many senior clubs from the Home Counties and the famous Bishop Auckland and Crook Town from the North East regularly challenging for the exciting FA Amateur Cup. Tom amateurs such as Bill Slater (Carnegie College, Blackpool, Brentford and Wolves), Warren Bradley (Bishop Auckland and Manchester United) and Charlie Mortimore (Woking and Aldershot) becoming household names and shared their playing time as amateurs, between their many clubs.
England caps were available to good players at many different levels, as can be seen from the fact three Royal Navy players and one from the Army were in the England team that beat Wales 4-0 in 1948. Caps were also won by players from clubs outside the top amateur leagues, such as Yorkshire Amateurs, Liverpool Collegiate Old Boys, Oxford University and Pegasus.
The amateurs attracted good crowds and the traditional rivalry between the clubs in The North East and the home counties was always simmering. However, the manager of the England Amateur International squad probably watched most of his football in The Isthmian and Athenian clubs around the home counties and although the famous Bishop Auckland regularly supplied players, the majority were, quite understandably, from the home counties. Selections from Chester and Workington represented good scouting!
Great Britain entered a side in The Olympics and The Home International Championship was renewed in 1948-1949 and contested by England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
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