Alf Common

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Alf Common
Alf Common.jpg
Personal information
Full nameAlfred Common
Date of birth(1880-05-25)25 May 1880
Place of birth Millfield, England
Date of death 3 April 1946(1946-04-03) (aged 65)
Place of death Darlington, England
Height 6 ft 8 in (203 cm)
Position(s) Forward
Senior career*
1900–1901 Sunderland 18 (6)
1901–1904 Sheffield United 67 (21)
1904–1905 Sunderland 20 (6)
1905–1910 Middlesbrough 168 (58)
1910–1912 Woolwich Arsenal 77 (23)
1912–1914 Preston North End 35 (9)
National team
1904–1906 England 3 (2)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Alfred Common (25 May 1880 in Millfield, Tyne and Wear – 3 April 1946 in Darlington) was an English footballer who played at inside forward or centre forward. He is most famous for being the first player to be transferred for a fee of £1,000 on his transfer to Middlesbrough from Sunderland in 1905. [1]


Club career

Common played for South Hylton and Jarrow in North East England before joining Sunderland in 1900. Sunderland finished Division One runners-up in 1900–01, after which Common transferred to Sheffield United in October 1901 for £325. Neither Sunderland nor Sheffield United had cause to regret the deal in the sense that Sunderland finished as Division One Champions in 1901–02, and Common scored the first goal in United's 1902 FA Cup Final win over Southampton. [2]

Common became a regular member of Sheffield United teams, and won the first of his three international caps in 1904, but in May of that year he refused to re-sign for United because he wished to return to Sunderland where he was reported to have 'business interests'. [3] United failed to persuade Common to change his mind and in the summer of 1904, he returned to Sunderland. The deal also took United's reserve goalkeeper Albert Lewis in return for a new record fee of around £520. [2]

In February 1905, little more than six months after this move, he broke the transfer record again by moving to Middlesbrough for £1,000. Middlesbrough had purchased Common in an attempt to avoid relegation to the Second Division. His first game for Middlesbrough was on 25 February 1905, away to his former club Sheffield United. Middlesbrough won 1–0, with Common scoring from a penalty after 50 minutes, it was their first away win for nearly two years. Consequently, the team, who had so far been battling against relegation that season, survived the drop. He played 168 league games for Boro and scored 58 goals. [2]

Alf Common with The Three Lions Alf Common the World's first PS1000 footballer.jpg
Alf Common with The Three Lions

At the age of 30, Common moved to Woolwich Arsenal in 1910. He made his debut on 1 September 1910 against Manchester United. After starting out at inside forward, he took on a more attacking role in his second season and was the club's top goalscorer with 17 goals in 1911–12, missing just two league games. However, he didn't score a single goal in the first half of the Gunners' 1912–13 season, before he was sold to Preston North End in December 1912 for £250. Altogether he played 80 times and scored a sum of 23 goals for Arsenal. [4] [2]

At Preston, he helped the club to win the Division Two title that season, although they were relegated the following 1913–14 season. [4] [2]

Common retired from football in 1914, and went on to run pubs in Darlington until 1943. [1] He died in 1946 aged 65. [5]

In 1998, he was selected as one of the Football League's 100 Football League Legends. His keepsakes, England caps and cup winners medals etc. were auctioned by Graham Budd Auctions in London in November 2011. [6]

International career

Common won his first England cap, against Wales on 29 February 1904. In all he won three caps, scoring two goals. [7]

Career statistics

LeagueFA CupTotal
Sheffield United 1901–02Division 120693299
1902–03Division 118700187
1903–04Division 129830328
Middlesbrough 1904–05Division 110400104
1905–06Division 13619524121
1906–07Division 12912213113
1907–08Division 134910359
1908–09Division 13310103410
1909–10Division 126411275
Woolwich Arsenal Total7723308023


Sunderland [2]
Sheffield United [2]
Preston North End [2]

References and notes

  1. 1 2 Proud, Keith (18 August 2008). "The player with the Common touch". The Northern Echo. Newsquest Media. Archived from the original on 1 November 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2010.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Alf Common". Spartacus
  3. A Sensational Transfer. Sheffield United matchday programme. 21 September 1985.
  4. 1 2 "Alf Common".
  5. Proud, Keith (18 August 2013). "The Player with the Common Touch". The Northern Echo. Archived from the original on 11 December 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  6. Henderson, Tony (8 November 2011). "Keepsakes of record breaking footballer Alf Common go to auction". the Northern Echo. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  7. "Alf Common". England Football

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