It may be apocryphal, but a lovely story anyhow. Professionalism is still 6 years off, and the England team is still dominated by the old Public Schoolboys and 'Varsity men. Combination play has yet to replace the old dribbling style.
The place, Kennington Oval.
England v Scotland, March 3rd 1877.
The principals, Alfred Lyttelton and Billy Mosforth.
Cambridge University, Member of Parliament, Queen's Counsel, Secretary of State for the Colonies.
An England Test cricketer and a superb field athlete and racquet sportsman.Lyttelton was a strapping 6ft 1 (1.85m) , and learned his football playing the Eton game.
One of the first England internationals to rely on a trade for his income, Mosforth was an engraver, and later a publican.
A proto professional who turned out for 8 different Sheffield based clubs (Albion, The Wednesday, Zulus, Hallam, Rovers, Heeley, Lockwood Brothers and United) and was said to follow the money even in the days when professionalism was still outlawed.
An all round sportsman, a runner and hurdler and a good club cricketer.
There were physical differences in the classes in Victorian England, which were often in evidence when teams from the industrial north met opponents from the south- and Mosforth (5 ft 4- 1.63m) being 9 inches (22cms) shorter than Lyttleton is an example of this.
Sheffield had taken to the combination game in the early 70s, possibly influenced by the play of the Royal Engineers. The Sheffield offside rule had also been more conducive to a passing game. Mosforth was a noted exponent of the new skill- the screw shot. He was also a very accurate crosser of the ball. Lyttelton was a heads down and charge dribbler. At some point during the game , which England lost 3-1, Mosforth apparently became very annoyed at Lyttelton's selfish approach, and, unabashed by the barriers of class, let his teammate know it. We don't know what form Mosforth's admonishment took. Yorkshiremen are notoriously blunt.
Lyttelton's reply, or at least the reply he is alleged to have made, has survived.
I play, sir, for my own pleasure.