Billy Mosforth

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Billy Mosforth

Billy Mosforth.jpg

Billy Mosforth in his United kit
Personal information
Full nameWilliam Mosforth
Date of birth(1859-01-02)2 January 1859 [1]
Place of birth Sheffield, England [1]
Date of death 11 July 1929(1929-07-11) (aged 71) [1]
Place of death Sheffield, England
Height 5 ft 4 in (1.63 m)
Playing position Inside or Outside Left
Senior career*
1873–1879 Sheffield Albion
1878–1888 The Wednesday
1879The Zulus 1 (0)
1883 → Sheffield Rovers
1886–1889Lockwood Brothers
1889–1890 Sheffield United 0 (0)
National team
1877–1882 England 9 (3)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

William Mosforth (2 January 1859 – 11 July 1929) was an English football player who played either as an inside or outside left. Born in Sheffield he played for several Sheffield clubs but the majority of his career was spent at The Wednesday. He later joined Sheffield United, playing in their first season in existence before retiring in 1890. He won nine caps for England between 1877 and 1882, which was a record at the time, scoring three goals for his country.

Association football Team field sport

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.

Sheffield City and Metropolitan borough in England

Sheffield is a city and metropolitan borough in South Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, its name derives from the River Sheaf, which runs through the city. With some of its southern suburbs annexed from Derbyshire, the city has grown from its largely industrial roots to encompass a wider economic base. The population of the City of Sheffield is 577,800 (mid-2017 est.) and it is one of the eight largest regional English cities that make up the Core Cities Group. Sheffield is the third-largest English district by population. The metropolitan population of Sheffield is 1,569,000.

Sheffield Wednesday F.C. association football club

Sheffield Wednesday Football Club is a professional association football club based in Sheffield, England. The team competes in the Championship, the second tier of the English football league system. Formed as an offshoot of The Wednesday Cricket Club in 1867, they went by the name of The Wednesday Football Club until changing to their current name in 1929.


Club career

Playing in his home town of Sheffield for his entire career Mosforth was known as the 'Little Wonder' or 'The Sheffield Dodger' due to his small stature. [1] He was often considered the best local player during his era [2] with outstanding ball control, crossing ability and long dribbles, sometimes taking it the entire length of the pitch! He was also a leading exponent of the "screw shot" that allowed him to bend the ball in the air, [3] a technique that was developed in Sheffield at the time and is now commonplace in the game.

Curl (football)

Curl or bend in association football is spin on the ball which will make it change direction, called a 'screw shot' in the 19th century. When kicking the ball, the inside of the foot is often used to curl the ball, but this can also be done by using the outside of the foot. Similar to curl, the ball can also swerve in the air, without the spin on the ball which makes the ball curl.

Mosforth began his career at Sheffield Albion and made his debut at 14 but was famous for swapping sides and profiteering from his play. [4] As an amateur player he was allowed to play for more than one club under FA rules at that time, although like many players Mosforth probably received some sort of payment for his services. One anecdotal story says that when he ran onto the pitch in Hallam colours someone in the crowd shouted "10 bob and free drinks, Billy, if you'll change your shirt". He promptly ran back to the dressing room and returned in a Sheffield Wednesday shirt. Despite this he was selected to play for the Sheffield Football Association in 1876 at the age of 18. [2]

The Football Association governing body of association football in England

The Football Association (FA) is the governing body of association football in England, the Crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man. Formed in 1863, it is the oldest football association in the world and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the amateur and professional game in its territory.

Hallam F.C. association football club

Hallam Football Club is an English football club based in Crosspool, Sheffield, South Yorkshire. They play in the Northern Counties East League Division One, at level 10 of the English football league system. Founded in 1860, it is second only to local rivals Sheffield F.C. in the list of the oldest association football clubs in the world. Games between these two clubs are known as the Rules derby.

Signing for The Wednesday in 1878 Mosforth would remain with the club for almost a decade, scoring their first ever goal at their Olive Grove ground, but continued to play for a number of other local teams during that period. In 1879 he played for The Zulus a touring side created to aid families of casualties of the Zulu War. The side became embroiled in controversy when it was revealed that the players were to make money themselves (a practice illegal at the time). Like many of the Wednesday players who were involved in the Zulu team, Mosforth was also one of the players who pushed them into becoming professional team. He played for the break-away team (Sheffield Rovers) that intended to become Sheffield's first professional side, but he returned to the Wednesday fold after professionalism was agreed upon.

Olive Grove

Olive Grove was Sheffield Wednesday F.C.'s first permanent football ground, home to the club for just over a decade at the end of the 19th century. It was located on the site of what is now Sheffield City Council's Olive Grove Depot, near Queens Road in the centre of Sheffield. In November 2009 it was announced that the world's oldest football club, Sheffield F.C., plan to return to its Sheffield roots with an 'iconic' 10,000 capacity stadium.

The Zulus were a short lived football team established in Sheffield, England that existed from 1879 to 1882. They were initially set up to raise funds for the wives and families of soldiers killed in the Zulu war. The team disbanded after accusations that they were bringing the game into disrepute and receiving payment for playing.

Anglo-Zulu War 1879 colonial war

The Anglo-Zulu War was fought in 1879 between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom. Following Lord Carnarvon's successful introduction of federation in Canada, it was thought that similar political effort, coupled with military campaigns, might succeed with the African kingdoms, tribal areas and Boer republics in South Africa. In 1874, Sir Henry Bartle Frere was sent to South Africa as High Commissioner for the British Empire to bring such plans into being. Among the obstacles were the presence of the independent states of the South African Republic and the Kingdom of Zululand and its army.

After leaving The Wednesday he was amongst the first players to answer the advertisement asking for players to form the new Sheffield United team that were placed in the local press. [1] He duly signed for the new club and remained at Bramall Lane for one season (prior to their entry into The Football League), having the distinction of scoring United's first ever goal at the ground and of being one of the first players to play for both leading sides in the city. Mosforth was also the first Blades player to be 'substituted' during a match (before substitutes were permitted) when a teammate was late arriving for a game against Bolton Wanderers, coincidentally the first game to be played under floodlights, meaning that Mosforth was asked to fill in until his teammate arrived. [1]

Sheffield United F.C. association football club

Sheffield United Football Club is a professional association football club based in the city of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. The team competes in the Championship, the second tier of English football. The football club was formed in 1889 as an offshoot of Sheffield United Cricket Club, and are nicknamed The Blades due to Sheffield's history of steel production. The club have played their home games at Bramall Lane since their formation in 1889. Bramall Lane is an all-seater ground with a capacity of 32,702.

Bramall Lane football stadium

Bramall Lane is a football stadium in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. It is the home of Sheffield United. As the largest stadium in Sheffield during the 19th century it hosted most of the city's most significant matches including the final of the world's first football tournament, first floodlit match and several matches between the Sheffield and London Football Associations that led to the unification of their respective rules. It was also used by Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield F.C. for major matches. It has been the home of Sheffield United since the club's establishment in 1889. It is the oldest major stadium in the world still to be hosting professional association football matches. Mansfield Town's Field Mill ground is the only stadium currently hosting professional football that is older than Bramall Lane.

Bolton Wanderers F.C. association football club

Bolton Wanderers Football Club is a professional football club in Bolton, Greater Manchester, England, which competes in the EFL Championship, the second tier of English football.

International career

Mosforth made his debut for England in March 1877, appearing in a friendly against Scotland. He went on to play nine times for his country and scored three goals. [5]

England national football team Mens association football team representing England

The England national football team represents England in senior men's international football and is controlled by The Football Association, the governing body for football in England.

Scotland national football team Mens association football team representing Scotland

The Scotland national football team represents Scotland in international football and is controlled by the Scottish Football Association. It competes in the three major professional tournaments, the FIFA World Cup, UEFA Nations League and the UEFA European Championship. Scotland, as a constituent country of the United Kingdom, is not a member of the International Olympic Committee and therefore the national team does not compete in the Olympic Games. The majority of Scotland's home matches are played at the national stadium, Hampden Park.

International goals

# Date Venue Opponent Result Competition Scored
1 5 April 1879 Kennington Oval, London Flag of Scotland.svg  Scotland 5–4 Friendly 1
2 13 March 1880 Hampden Park, Glasgow Flag of Scotland.svg  Scotland 4–5 Friendly 1
3 13 March 1882 Racecourse Ground, Wrexham Flag of Wales 2.svg  Wales 5–3 Friendly 1


Billy Mosforth holds a number of records in the game, these are as follows:

First player to play for both Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United.

First player to score for both Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United.

Scored the first goal at Sheffield United's ground Bramall Lane.

First Sheffield United player to be 'substituted'.

Record England Cap holder at the time.

Played in the first professional game to be played under floodlights.

Scored Sheffield Wednesday's first ever goal at the Olive Grove

Personal life

Mosforth was an engraver by trade and was an all round athlete, competing in both flat and hurdle races and playing for Hallam Cricket Club. [1] After he retired from playing Mosforth became a licensee in Sheffield. [1]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Denis Clarebrough & Andrew Kirkham (2008). Sheffield United Who's Who. Hallamshire Press. pp. 235–236. ISBN   978-1-874718-69-7.
  2. 1 2 Farnsworth, Keith (1982). Wednesday!. Sheffield City Libraries. pp. 27–30. ISBN   0-900660-87-2.
  3. "Football History" . Retrieved 27 January 2008.
  4. Farnsworth, Keith (1995). Sheffield Football: A History (1857–1961). The Hallamshire Press. pp. 36–37. ISBN   978-1-874718-13-0.
  5. "Player Report – Billy Mosforth" . Retrieved 26 January 2008.