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Have you seen?

F irst of the seldom seen series.

To find any card with the name Percy E Cadle on the back is quite something. They were a small tobacco firm in Cardiff S.Wales. At the beginning of the 20th century they issued 6 sets of cards. Three of them were of the very popular 'Actresses' variety which were also issued by a number of other companies.

All these were issued in 1900. Obviously Cadle felt this had been a reasonably successful as they issued cards of their own device the following year.

Manchester United were insignificant

In 1901 they issued two series, Boer War & Boxer rebellion sketches which was a series of 12 cards, probably (well I did say they were pretty rare). In this same year they issued Boer War Generals but only gave them a ten card issue.

For the smokers of Cadles this was the last they were to see of cards with the cigarettes until in 1904 Percy Cadle broke the fast.

This was 'Footballers [1904]' their most adventurous set to date with a series of 20 cards.

It was also to be the last set of cards they issued. Perhaps the sheer effort of the issue exhausted them.

The reverse of the card is ornate and like many of the earlier sets rather devoid of information concerning the front of the card. Instead it was just an elaborate advert for the tobacco company issuing them. In all honesty the front of the card is not exactly the most exciting thing you will have ever seen. Still just think what the price would have been per card if rare combined with exciting. Think of them as an earthenware pot an archeologist pulls out of the ground and leaps from foot to foot from the sheer excitement of it all.

As so often is the case with these early sets 'Footballers' could mean both rugby and football players rather than the more narrow definition often employed today. So of the 20 cards in the set only five of them are of non-rugby playing types.

The complete listing is below:

Naturally there is a certain element of Welsh pride within the players that did make the set.

It gets worse for the football fan as there was an error within the set and this had to occur in one of the five football players. The player described as A.Goodall, Derby County was actually a picture of John Goodall.

What the series lacked in soccer players it made up for with the quality of the players depicted.

By the time the series was issued in 1904 the five players had managed to rack up 80 international caps between them and they had scored 58 times for England.

Now this is not bad going if you consider in 21 May 1904 FIFA is established in France and it takes until 1907 for England to play in Vienna, the first international they play against a foreign side. 1872 had seen the first international between England and Scotland, the oldest fixture in the book. This was three years before a cross bar was used to replace the tape which had been used since 1865 in goal posts.

In 1879 England and Wales play the first international.

So not only are the lads playing less games but goal scoring might have been a bit trickier before 1912 as up until that date goal-keepers were allowed to handle the ball outside of the penalty area.

I confess to not being an expert on exactly how the game was played back then (contrary to popular belief I was not around at the time) but it even I can see a goalkeeper running about the field picking the ball up seems a little unfair. Mind you the goalkeeper was not as protected as he is today, kicking the ball out of the goalkeepers hands was fair game as was kicking goalkeeper and ball into the back of the net.

Still at least there were goal nets by this time having been introduced in 1890.

So what teams did these soccer gods play for,

Well, WC Athersmith played for Small Heath.

Steve Bloomer and A Goodall both played for Derby County.

E. Needham played for Sheffield United and GO Smith played for Corinthians.

For those of you that are not versed in soccer history suffice to say these are not exactly the first names which spring to mind when thinking of great football teams. Small Heath and Corinthians have all but been lost in the mists of time. A lot of the teams you think of today were not even in existence in 1904 (Chelsea, 1905 ; Crystal Palace, 1905; Leeds United, 1919 it begins to make a little more sense.)

Small Heath should be remembered as one of the very few soccer teams which have gone through an entire season without a drawn match. This was during a stay in Divison Two in the 1893-94 season when they played 28 matches in total.

As far as I know this has only been done 7 times in the history of League football in the UK. All were achieved before 1900. Of course you can do that by losing every game but that was not what Small Heath were about.

In 1902-03 season (still in the second division) they scored maximum points for their home games in the football league. This is an even rarer event than not incurring a draw during a season.

Small Heath is one thing the Corinthians are something totally different. Some of the greatest players ever to tie up a pair of laces wore the club colours.

Although England might have been slow to start kicking the ball about with foreign types the Corinthians were all for it. In 1897 they were out touring South America. As a club they were still a force in the 1923-24 season when they knocked out Division One side (when Division One meant what it said) Blackburn Rovers out of the cup. Again I believe only six First division clubs have been knocked out of the competition by non-league clubs, dont quote me on that one though.

The Corinthians were considered worthy enough to enter the third round of the FA Cup competition with the professional sides rather than have to qualify with the amateur sides. These are in the days when Manchester United were insignificant enough to want to play in the oldest Football competition in the world.

In 1894 an England International side made up entirely of Corinthian players beat Wales 5-1. In all G.O Smith was capped 21 times for England. Such was this man's soccer prowess that in the Players, Footballers, 1928-9 series Dixie Dean was described as probably the best centre-forward since G.O Smith. Nostalgia will have played a part in that description but also a good deal of reality.

Although two of the five players came from the Derby County club the previous year they had been humiliated at the FA Cup final by losing 6-0 against Bury. These remains the biggest defeat in FA Cup history.

Just to make a clever tie in it took till 1936 for Dixie Dean to overtake Steve Bloomers record of 352 goals in league football. Again, as far as I am aware, Steve Bloomer remains to this day the highest aggregate goal scorer for Derby County with 291 goals in two stints with the club 1892-1906, 1910-1914, which you have to accept in the modern game is going to probably never be beaten.

Derby County had been FA Cup runners up in 1898, 1899 and 1903 (they finally win the competition in 1946) They were formed in 1884 as an off-shoot of the Derbyshire County Cricket Club. This was not an uncommon feature given sportsmen of the day were not paid much if at all and were just naturally sporting-types. Also handy was the fact the cricket and football seasons could be distinguished unlike now.

Those of you still awake will have noticed there was a gap in Steve Bloomer's playing career. The answer to the gap is simple, he was playing for Middlesborough who were buying themselves to form during that period. In the 1906-07 FA Cup Middlesborough were drawn away against Brentford in the second round.

This really was a David and Goliath type draw. Middlesborough having five internationals in the side. This naturally included Steve Bloomer but also Alf Common (the man who made history in 1905 when he was the first player to be transferred for the sum of 1000 UK pounds when be moved from Sunderland.)

A crowd of 21,296 came to the Brentford ground to see the spectacle. After ten minutes fencing collapses and the crowd spill out onto the pitch.

Order was restored and it was Brentford who scored the only goal of the match after 62 minutes.

The Middlesborough team left with no small amount of abuse ringing in their ears but it was too get worse. As the team coach went down Brentford High Street one of the wheels came flying of the beast. Fortunately this did not injure anyone but the merriment this caused for Brentford supporters meant some nearly laughed themselves to serious injury.

Derby County might have been having a bit of bad luck during the period this set was issued but Sheffield United were the form team of the group. They won the FA cup in 1899, 1902 and were runners up in 1901.

I do not believe this team has any connection with a team called Sheffield Zulu's who from 1879 - 1880 played all their football matches dressed and made up as Zulu's.

The 1901 final was a victim of its own success. Such was the anticipation of huge numbers of people turning up to see the finalists, Sheffield United and Totenham Hotspur that most stayed away fearing the crush. It ended up being the poorest FA Cup final of the century with only 20470 people attending. Compare that to the previous year when there were 110820 people at the final, or indeed with the Middlesborough vs Brentford game mentioned earlier.

A year after the issue of the set Sheffield United flexed a bit of financial muscle in the FA Cup when they were drawn against Blackpool in the second round.

As it was drawn Blackpool had home advantage. Sheffield managed to persuade them to change the venue to their ground by the simple means of giving Blackpool 250 pounds. Blackpool took the money and then to show nothing else had been bought with the money promptly beat Sheffield 2-1.

It is nice to see the mighty fall every so often. Anyone see Man Utd games in the World Club Championship? I'd have liked to have seen them beaten by the Corinthians just for old times sake.