At the start of the year Chelsea FC did not exist. Gus Mears and his brother began with the idea of a ground inspired by the great Scottish stadiums of Hampden, Ibrox and Celtic Park
The new venue, capable of seating 5,000 and holding 95,000 standing, came into being on the site of the London Athletic Club and was called Stamford Bridge. It was essentially an entrepreneurial venue designed to attract big matches such as the Cup final which it did from 1920 to 1922. The football team as an afterthought put together in months mostly with Scottish imports brought in by the hastily appointed manager John T. Robertson
Robertson was a Scottish international from Ranger who had played in England. One of his most important acquisitions was the mountainous goalkeeper, Billy Foulke from Sheffield United who was made the captain. .
To intimidate the opposition, Chelsea used to send out two small boys to stand behind the goal to call attention to Foulke’s bulk. They soon became more than ornaments and thus the ball-boy was born. Within a month of signing their first player, Chelsea had elbowed their way past the Football League’s annual meeting and were elected into the Second Division. They lost their first match to Stockport but finished the season third and were promoted the next season as runners-up.
When Dave Gallaher arrived with his New Zealand team not many Britons though much of his chances on a gruelling 32 match tour. Scotland had so little regard for the New Zealanders that they refused to guarantee them a £200 game fee. Instead, they agreed the tourists would receive any profit from the match after expenses had been deducted. Much to the chagrin of the Scots, Gallaher‘s side was a sensation They opened the tour with a 55 - 4 win against Devon and by the time they reached Scotland in mid-November the All Blacks as they became known were a sell-out.
They beat Scotland 12 - 7 at Inverleith and made £1000 from the game. In the next two weeks they beat Ireland 15 - 0 at Lansdowne Road and England 15 - 0 at Crystal Palace.
Nothing, it appeared would stop the first national team from New Zealand completing a clean sweep. They had won all their matches
The disappointed All Blacks lost 3 - 0, won their remaining four matches and returned home having conceded only seven tries and lost one match. The Originals as they were called, were the first to plan their moves and give them code names. Together with this and other innovative ideas they changed forever the way the game of Rugby Union would be played.
AMERICAN FOOTBALL - Eighteen players were killed and 149 injured during the season. President Theodore Roosevelt threatened to ban the game unless it was made less violent.
BOXING - Bob Fitzsimmons relinquished his light heavyweight title when he was stopped by Jack O’Brien, one of the fastest fighters of the day, in the 13th round in San Francisco.
GOLF - Willie Anderson won the US Open for a record third time. His total of four victories (1901,1903,1904 and 1905) was equalled twenty five years later by Bobby Jones then Ben Hogan and finally Jack Nicklaus.
27 wins, 801 points to a mere 22 against Then they went to Cardiff to face 40,000 singing Welshmen and the pride of the Principality. Wales took the initiative and Morgan scored a try in the 25th minute.
The first Grand Prix was held near Le Mans on a triangular town-to-town closed circuit and was effectively the beginning of what became Formula 1. It was won by the Hungarian Francois Szisz in a Renault.
The two-day race organised by the Automobile Club de France, was run in blazing heat over 769.9 miles and won at an average speed of 73.3 mph. On the first day each competitor went out at 90 second intervals, but on the second they started at intervals corresponding to the cumulative result of the first day’s six 50 mile laps. A victory by a French car was almost inevitable, France entered 25 cars, and Britain and the US none.
In the wake of President Theodore Roosevelt’s warning about American Football being too brutal the Intercollegiate Athletics Association rewrote the rules and gave the game its modern shape. Forward passes were allowed for the first time, although they did not prove immediately popular. The rules were changed in January, but it was not until late October that the first completed forward pass was recorded in the professional game.
A more open style of play was created by increasing the distance that had to be made on the three ‘downs’ (the fourth down was introduced in 1912) from five yards to ten. A neutral zone was introduced at the line of scrimmage, and a team had to have six players on the line. Those linemen were not allowed to drop back to form a pack with their backs, which led to a gradual elimination of the “Flying Wedge” and the other massed attacks that had caused so many injuries. Although the game became less violent the injuries continued, and it was not until after another six players died in 1909 that mass attacks were finally banned in 1910.
Kent, after watching years of Lancashire and Yorkshire dominating the County championship, finally broke the northern supremacy. A large part of their success was due to Frank Wooley. Frank, playing his maiden season in first class cricket, became one of the games greatest all-rounders, scoring 58,969 runs, second only to Jack Hobbs, and taking 2,068 wickets. R.C. Robertson-Glasgow said of Wooley “When you bowled at him there weren’t enough fielders, and when you wrote about him there weren’t enough words.
SOCCER - Liverpool won the League championship for the second time, having won the Second Division championship the year before. They were the first club to win the titles in consecutive years.
TENNIS - W J Clothier recovered from the depths of 0 - 40 and 2 - 5 down in the fifth set to beat FB Alexander 8 - 6, 6 - 2, 4 - 6, 1 - 6, 7 - 5 in the men’s quarter finals of the US championship. Clothier went on to win the title.
Norman Brookes became the first model off that prolific factory-floor of tennis champions called Australia. There have been more popular, more skilful and more successful players from down under, but the left-handed Brookes will always be remembered as the father of the Australian game.
An aggressive volleyer with quick footwork and a variety of disguised services which earned him the nickname “The Wizard”, Brookes became the first overseas player to win the men’s singles title at Wimbledon, beating Arthur Gore. He returned in 1914 to win his second title against the New Zealander Tony Wilding, who had held the crown for four years.
Brookes founded the Australian Lawn Tennis Association in 1904 and included New Zealand so that his friend Wilding could play in the Davis Cup. The pair dominated the event taking the title four times and winning 35 of their 48 matches.
Brooklands, built on part of Lord Northcliffe’s estate near Weybridge, was opened as the world’s first specialist motor racing circuit. Because it was the first of a kind, the designer, Colonel Holden modelled the course on a horse racing track and it as consequently oval shaped with the full circuit measuring 2.77 miles. Brooklands borders the railway line 20 miles from London. Its long turns were steeply banked, and two of the bends rose to a height of 27 feet and were the most striking features of the circuit.
Part of the 110 feet wide track crossed the River Wey and was ingeniously supported by a ferro-concrete bridge. The actual surface was extremely flimsy, a mere six inches of concrete, and the battering it took during the motor racing season required it to be repaired each winter.
Racing at Brooklands was conducted in a very gentlemanly fashion , there being no competitions on a Sunday. Its total cost was £150,000
A 12-acre market garden 12 miles from the centre of London was purchased for £5,572.12s.6d as a home for English Rugby. The Rugby Football Union began to develop the site at Twickenham, which had become known as the “cabbage patch” and the first match was held two years later.
AMERICAN FOOTBALL - Six brothers named Nesser played at the same time for the Columbus Panhandles. In the early 1920‘s one of them played in the same side as his son, making them the only father and son to play a professional game together.
EQUESTRIANISM - The first International Horse Show was held at London Olympia.
GOLF - Arnaud Massy of France, became the first overseas player to win the British Open. ADS Duncan won the first New Zealand Open, which was played over 36 holes. He was the leading amateur 28 years later at the age of 60.
The IV Olympiad in London opened a new chapter in Olympic History. As at Athens, Greece, in 1906, the Games were not merely a part of a World Exhibition, but were staged as an event in their own right. These games were originally to be held in Rome, but the Italians withdrew their capital’s candidacy after the 1906 eruption of Mount Vesuvius. - the money that would have been spent on the Olympics was needed elsewhere. In the event, Britain declared itself willing, at short notice, to organise and hold the 1908 Games in London.
The London Games were held in the Shepherds Bush district of West London in the White City Stadium constructed for the Franco-British Exhibition that took place earlier in the year. The stadium was equipped with a running track and a velodrome, as well as a large swimming pool, which featured an adjustable diving board, in front of the stand. A crowd of almost 100,000 watched the proceedings. For the first time, stands supported by simple steel tubes were erected, helping to reduce costs.
As they had done at the opening ceremony, of the second Athens Games in 1906, the participating athletes paraded behind their respective national flags on entry to the stadium. The first medals had been awarded even before the opening ceremony took place. The indoor tennis and real tennis (jeu de paume) tournaments had been held in the spring. The Games proper got under way in July, with the track and field events including tug-of-war and the first Olympic 1600 metres relay, which consisted of 2x 200 metre legs, one over 400 metres and one over 800 metres.
Motorboating, polo, wrestling and rowing were also part of the programme. In the autumn, figure skating became the first winter sports discipline. There were also football, hockey and lacrosse tournaments. Once again, women took part in only a limited number of sports; archery, figure skating, yachting and tennis.
Controversy arose between the American delegation and the British. The US team management accused the host nation’s judges of partiality. As a result, the IOC announced its intention to use judges from various nations on future occasions.
The most successful competitors, at the London Games, with three gold medals each, were the British swimmer, Henry Taylor, and the American athlete Melvin Shepard.
In the 110 metres hurdles, the 27 year old US athlete Forrest Smithson showed his class. In the final, he took the gold medal with a time of 15.0 seconds ahead of fellow Americans John Garrels and Arthur Shaw. Meanwhile the great Ray Ewry, in his last Olympics, successfully defended his Olympic titles in the standing high jump and the standing long jump.
In the marathon, an incident occurred which gave rise to sympathy from the crowd when Dorando Pietri, near to collapse was helped by officials over the finish line only to be disqualified.
At 6ft 2ins. And weighing 22st. 3lbs. Foulke was, unsurprisingly, called ‘Fatty’, yet he was remarkably agile and adept at saving penalties. He disliked forwards barging into him and would often grab an offender with one huge hand and toss him into the back of the net. Opponents were known to have admitted that instead of keeping the ball low they often shot at his huge stomach - his most vulnerable area
The All Blacks rallied and Bob Deans appeared to have levelled the score. However, the referee, John Dallas of Scotland, was wearing his street clothes and flat shoes and could not keep up with the play. He ruled that Deans had not crossed the line and his decision was one of the most controversial in rugby
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