HISTORY OF THE OLD SALOPIAN FOOTBALL CLUB
The Origins of the Game
The origins of football in England lay in the public schools where the boys invented their own rules. During the mid-nineteenth century, a series of meetings were held at Cambridge University in an attempt to agree a common set of Laws of the Game. Old Salopians J.C. Thring and the Revd. R. Burn played a particularly prominent part in these discussions before a final version was agreed by the Football Association when it was founded in 1863
The Early Old Salopian Footballers
In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries, before the days of professionalism, Old Salopians were amongst the finest players in the country and 13 won full international caps (5 for England, 8 for Wales). Most notable of these were W.J. Oakley, who played 11 times for England, and M.M. Morgan-Owen, who represented Wales 16 times. Other notable Salopians of the era were J. Brockbank, who played in the world’s first international match, England v. Scotland in 1872, and H. Wace and J.G. Wylie, who both played in the F.A. Cup Final. Closer to home, J.C.H. Bowdler played for Shrewsbury Town whilst still at School and went on to play for Wales and for both Wolverhampton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers, appearing in two F.A. Cup semi-finals.
Morgan Maddox Morgan-Owen (left), in action for Wales against England in 1907
The Foundation of the Old Salopian Football Club
Old Salopian football teams had existed since the earliest years of the game with regular matches against the School and informal Old Salopian Football Clubs at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities. However, it was the inauguration of the Arthur Dunn Cup which brought together the best players and the formation of a more organised club.
The Arthur Dunn Cup began in Season 1902-03 for the amateur public school old boys because professionalism had taken an increasing hold on the game and on the F.A. Cup in particular. In the first season, the Old Salopians reached the Final, playing two 2-2 draws with the Old Carthusians before the trophy was shared. The Morgan-Owen brothers were selected to play in a full international for Wales on the same day as the Final but declined the invitation as they wished to play for the Salopians.
Despite that early success, it was some time before the Salopians were able to repeat their triumph Shrewsbury was too far for home games, which were played either in London or in Oxford until the 1950s. In 1926, however, the Salopians reached the Final again and, although they lost narrowly 3-2 to the Malvernians, that disappointment was soon to be forgotten as they returned in 1927 to lift the cup by defeating the Old Malvernians 6-3 and begin an 11 year period of dominance of the competition. A major figure in the 1927 Final was George Watson who went on to become an England Amateur International and play in the Football League for Charlton Athletic, Crystal Palace and Clapton (now Leyton) Orient.
The OSFC Team prior to the 1903 inaugural Arthur Dunn Cup Final
A Golden Era - The Thirties
Following the 1927 triumph, the Salopians dominated the Arthur Dunn Cup, winning in 1932, 1933, 1935 and 1937 and finishing runners-up in 1930. The Salopian side during this period remained remarkably settled. Philip Snow, Alan Barber and Bill Blaxland played in all these finals but the key figure was unquestionably Blaxland, Secretary of the O.S.F.C. and the mastermind of the triumphs of this era. Both Barber and Blaxland regularly turned out for the Corinthians against Football League clubs and the Salopian half back line of Barber, Blaxland and Ranulph Waye was considered by many to be the key to their strength at this time. Other notable figures were inside forwards John Haslewood and Alan Barlow who both played in all four of the cup winning sides of the 1930s.
The 1935 Arthur Dunn Cup Final at Crystal Palace: G.R.G. Roberts scores the OSFC's first goal (left) and M.L. Booker adds the third (right)
A Golden Era – The Fifties
Following the Second World War, the Salopians again reached the Final in 1949 before beginning another period of dominance between 1952 and 1955, helped by being able to play home matches at Shrewsbury for the first time. Cup Final victories over the Etonians (1952) and the Wykehamists (1953) were followed by finishing runners-up to the Carthusians in 1954 and then sharing the trophy with Old Brentwoods in 1955 after a remarkable 4-4 draw, a match described by The Times as “quite one of the best and certainly the most exciting of Arthur Dunn Finals”.
The architect of all these successes was Robin Moulsdale, captain of the outstanding School side of 1946 and now back in Shrewsbury as master in charge of football. Besides scoring 7 goals in the three winning Cup Finals, he was the inspiration of the side, both as a scheming inside forward and as the captain and organiser off the field. Henry Oxenham, Miles Robinson, Jeremy Bretherton and Barry Pugh appeared in all three of those winning teams, along with centre forward Dick Rhys, regarded by many as one of the outstanding all-time Salopian footballers. The strength of Salopian football at this time is illustrated by the fact that Ken Shearwood, a regular in the Pegasus side that won the F.A. Amateur Cup at Wembley in 1951 and 1953, was available to the Salopians for only one of the above Finals.
Action from the 1952 Arthur Dunn Cup Final at Tooting & Mitcham, following which Robin Moulsdale and his team collected the trophy
The OSFC in London
In 1962 the Arthurian League was formed in London and the Salopians joined despite the disadvantages of having no home pitch and relatively few available players. However, under the guidance of Jeremy Alexander who was the key driving force of the club in its infancy, progress was rapid and when Alexander handed over the secretary’s baton to Mike Cox in 1972, the OSFC expanded to running two teams and acquired a home pitch at Whiteley Village.
The key to the success of the OSFC in London, both on and off the field, has been the endless enthusiasm and driving commitment of a succession of secretaries and captains who have bullied and cajoled Salopians into taking to the field or contributing to the social side of the club. At the risk of omitting some who are more than worthy, John Godby, Leigh Whittingham, Rob Matthews, Andy Pollock, Chris Sturdy, David Saunders, David Lloyd-Jones and David Honychurch unquestionably warrant particular note.
For the first 25 years of their existence, there seldom seemed much danger of the club achieving league success but in 1987 promotion to the Premier Division was gained and, despite two relegations and two promotions since then, the club now expects to compete at this top level. There have even been occasional seasons when a serious Championship campaign has been mounted. However, the fact that so many of the best players are not available to play in London on a regular basis unquestionably puts the club at a disadvantage compared with its home counties rivals and the success that the club has achieved has therefore been all the more remarkable.
The formation of the Arthurian League may well have had much to do with a long barren spell in the Arthur Dunn Cup. Robin Moulsdale came out of retirement to inspire another Dunn win in 1964 but this was to be the last Cup Final appearance for 30 years. Whilst many rivals could now field their best teams on a weekly basis, the Salopians agonised over whether to pick the best players or to be loyal to the regular league side. At times it seemed that Arthur Dunn Cup success was a thing of the past, a nostalgic memory never to return.
A Golden Era – The Nineties
In 1993 David Honychurch took over the captaincy and, in his first season in charge, the Salopians reached the Arthur Dunn Cup Final for the first victory for 20 years, losing a replay after having led 2-0 in the first match. However, the belief that victory was possible had returned. The following season brought another Final and this time two Honychurch goals brought victory over the Foresters. A defeat in the Final by the Foresters in 1998 was followed by another victory, over the Lancing Old Boys, in 1999 under Hugh Raven’s captaincy. Stalwarts of this era were Mark Lascelles in defence, brothers Rob and Tom Cooke in midfield, and striker Scott Ellis. Two victories, two further appearances in the Final and two in the semi-finals made the 1990s a period to rival the 1930s and 1950s.
Salopian captain David Honychurch scores the winning goal and picks up the cup in 1995 to end a 31 year barren spell
In Season 2002-03, both the Arthur Dunn Cup and the Old Salopian Football Club celebrated their Centenary Seasons. Appropriately, the Salopians once again reached the Final and played against the Old Carthusians in a repeat of the 1903. On this occasion, however, the Salopians, now under Scott Ellis as captain, won 2-1 to lift the trophy for a thirteenth time with Hugh Raven and Rob Cooke both appearing in their fifth final.
The OSFC entered its second expecting to challenge for honours in both the Arthur Dunn Cup and in the Premier League of the Arthurian League. In addition, there have been occasional successful forays into the Surrey Senior Cup and the A.F.A. Cup. 100 years after that first Arthur Dunn success in 1903, the Club has never been in healthier condition.