The FA Tour of Germany and Prague 1899

FIVE or six years ago who could have foreshadowed the visit of an English football team to Germany as within the scope of practical politics before the end of the century? Six years since, the game was unknown, at least to the bulk of the youth of Germany. At that time, it is true, there were international contests of a kind. In 1893, Herr W. Bensemann was captain of the Carlsruhe (sic) Football Club. An enthusiast of enthusiasts, in his hands football in South Germany was bound to develop. Through his initiative, international matches were arranged and duly carried out. Teams representing South Germany played in Paris and in Switzerland,if not in other European centres. North Germany was not fortunate enough to have a leader of Mr. Bensemann’s energy.Football there, indeed, is only the product of the last two or three years. That it should have made the headway it has in this short space of time says a great deal for the zeal of those who are responsible for its management there. Until quite recently it would not have been possible to have played a match of any pretensions in Berlin. There was in fact no ground which could have been enclosed. In the last few months this want has been remedied, and the excellent ground close to Charlottenburg, known as the Sport-park, on which the Englishmen played their first match, will bear comparison with the majority of our English football enclosures in respect of its playing condition. That English players went out this year was mainly due to the enterprise of Herr Bensemann. It was at his insistence that the Council of the Football Association accepted the invitation of the German Central Committee to send out the best team they could of English players. For some time it looked as if Mr. Bensemann had reckoned without his host. In Hamburg as well as by the South German Association the undertaking was coldly received. The trip was regarded as premature by both these bodies. Objection was made that it was not possible to collect a team thoroughly representative of German football. Whatever their reasons the objectors did their best to make the tour impossible.The South German Association even went so far as to threaten any of their players taking part in the matches with suspension. In some cases it became more than a threat in more than one instance actual suspension was the result. Whether this attitude was right or wrong, whether it was sportsmanlike or the reverse, it is not for us to say. The fact is only mentioned to show the difficulties against which Herr Bensemann and his colleagues on the German Central Committee had to contend. Indeed until within a few days of the departure of the English players it was uncertain whether the trip would come off. But the Central Committee, to their lasting credit be it said, carried out all their engagements to the letter. Events showed,too, that their judgment was correct. The fears that had been expressed by those who opposed the project proved to be visionary. From first to last the English players, professionals as well as amateurs, had the warmest reception. Officially they met with profuse hospitality everywhere unofficially, all classes received them with courtesy, in many cases even with a hearty welcome. Nor is it unreasonable to hope that the football players of Germany and Austria will benefit materially from the examples of such all-round experts as Bassett and Rogers, of Holt and Crabtree. In goalkeeping the Germans have little to learn. Even Waller, excellent as he is could have taught them little had he been called upon to any great extent, which he was not. Altogether the form of the German players was full of promise. The best all-round play was seen at Prague; but football there has been played under better conditions. In one important respect the Germans want little teaching. They played the game in Prague, Berlin, and Carlsruhe alike in the proper spirit, avoiding on the whole anything approaching to roughness The forwards were fast, most of them, and showed fair 'combination. They only want experience to play really well and the improved form of some of them at Carlsruhe showed that they had already learned a little of the science of the English players as the result of the previous matches. The defence at Prague was the best we saw It was more level and certainly the backs were more severely taxed there. Still the best defensive player was Ivor Schrieber (sic), who captained the teams at Berlin and Carlsruhe. As a half back he is distinctly promising, fast,and sure to be clever with more experience. At full back,his brother, E. Schrieber (sic) , Kohts and Westendorp at Berlin,Hildebrand and Mayer at Prague, were all fairly good. All the three goalkeepers were excellent. W. Langer was a bit uncertain in the first half of the second match at Berlin. At Carlsruhe he kept very well, as did Eichelmann at Berlin and Troy at Prague. The successes of the English eleven were Rogers, of Newcastle United, Holt and Crabtree. Rogers came as something of a surprise forward. He is very fast as well as strong, middles well, and is a good shot. On his form this tour the Selection Committee of the Football Association will do well to give him a trial in a big match. Holt, at half back, played a consistently fine game. He showed all the pluck and science that brought him to the forefront in his early days. Crabtree at full back was at his very best, and his versatility must have been quite an education to the Germans. Bach, of Sunderland, was, of course, overshadowed by Crabtree. Still he played a good game throughout at back. The veteran Bassett, whose first International was in 1888, was in very good form on the outside right in the first match. The other grounds were uneven, and he was unable to show to the same advantage. From a football standpoint the tour cannot fail to do good. Socially too the visit appeared to produce the best of feeling. The English team are indeed not likely to forget the many acts of kindliness of which they were the recipients. Herr Bensemann, who accompanied them throughout, will be the central figure in their recollections of a most pleasurable trip. The brothers Schrieber at Berlin and Professor Leudenfeld in Prague did very much too to add to their enjoyment. Amateurs and professionals met with the same reception off, as well as on the field. There was not a shadow of a distinction throughout the tour. Moreover it is gratifying to record that the most cordial relations existed between all the members of the team throughout.
 Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News -  09.12.99
Schrieber  should read  Schricker.
For details of the tour see here.