Football Fever

This is Fred Keenor, my grandfather's cousin, who was captain of Cardiff City when they won the FA Cup in 1927. It was the only time in its history the  FA Cup was won by a non-English team. I love the way Fred is showing off the cup with a cigarette dangling from his mouth! By all accounts he was a hard drinker and smoker.

HAVE you been watching the football World Cup? I suspect many of my readers are distinctly underwhelmed by this event, currently being played in Qatar. 

You'll have to forgive me because England have reached the quarter-final and will play France on Saturday so we fans are suffering from football fever at the moment.  

Despite being a die-hard England fan, I must admit to a sneaking love for Wales as my grandfather's cousin used to play for the team way back in the 1920s and 30s. Fred Keenor was captain of Cardiff the only time the FA Cup has been won by a non-English team. Ironically, his father was born in England, just up the road where I live now.

My family were stonemasons for generations, including my grandfather, until stonemasonry became something of a dying art. Part of the family, including Fred's dad, decamped to south Wales at the end of the 19th Century to find work in the coal pits.

Fred Keenor was born in Cardiff at time when football stars weren't as pampered as our top soccer players these days. I was reading the other day how the Manchester City stars get their huge gas-guzzling cars warmed and delivered to them after training. Heaven forbid the little dears might have to walk 100 yards and get into a motor a few degrees short of body heat.

The HUGE salaries paid to top football players are a relatively new phenomenon. Back in 1961 the last pay packet  for Tom Finney - Sir Tom, one of the greatest English footballers ever –  amounted to the princely sum of £20 ($26). Sir Tom spent the whole of his professional career at Preston North End and was known as the Preston Plumber because his dad had insisted he learned a trade.

Still 20 quid was a not inconsiderable sum in those days but bearing no comparison to today's eye-popping sums played to stars in the Premier League. 

One story about Finney made me smile. In 1954 Preston North End reached the final of the FA Cup. Tom Finney was asked by the other players to inquire about the possibility of a bonus. He approached the chairman who was shocked at the brazen request but promised to investigate the possibility. The next day he told Finney he had good news.

“We’ve ’ad a board meeting and to reward your efforts in getting us to t’final, your wives will be getting an ’andbag." Long pause for effect. "EACH!”

Anyway, I'm looking forward to Saturday and hoping for a victory over our neighbours over the Channel. Wish us luck!

If you want to know more about Fred Keenor, look here: FRED KEENOR

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    1. Oh, the students are so into the World Cup right now. My Wednesday post is even all about it.

    2. Family connections are fascinating.

    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.