Stiffy The Goalkeeper
Humour in football was generally directed at either goalkeepers or referees. The referee, for all his shortcomings and his portrayal as a weedy jobsworth, could however, wield an imperious authority which could lay low the hopes of the masses. And that just isn't funny.
Goalkeepers on the other hand were ever the scapegoats and whipping boys- in the late 19th and early 20th centuries they were afforded little protection and subject to much misuse. Even to their contemporaries they cut a somewhat comic figure, anxiously anticipating each fresh onslaught in sweaters and caps that would have been suitable for a North Sea fishing expedition.
Liverpool born musical hall star Harry Weldon created a comic anti-hero- Stiffy- an inept, frightened and possibly drunken goalkeeper who concedes 62 goals in a single game.
The character was debuted in 1907 and the sketch featured a young Charlie Chaplin.
Stiffy was a much loved character. The hugely (no pun intended) popular William Foulke presented Weldon with a pair of his voluminous shorts which he (as Stiffy) wore on stage.
But when Stiffy's between the sticks
When Stiffy's between the sticks
He can stop any kind of ball
A football or a brandy-ball
And all the forwards say
When I'm up to my monkey tricks
'What's the use of me trying to score
When Stiffy's between the sticks.
Full text here.