Billy (William) Mosforth

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If you live along Bruce Road or the eastern sides of either Neill Road or Eastwood Road in Sharrow Vale, Sheffield then if you could go back in time about 150 years you may well see one of Sheffield’s, & at the time, the world’s greatest players running through your living room.  Billy Mosforth, born 8th Jan 1858, played for Sheffield Albion for 6 years between 1873 & 1879 alongside the likes of William Clegg. Albion’s Ecclesall Road ground was located where the 3 roads mentioned above now are.

At only 17 Mosforth played for the Sheffield FA team against Birmingham in 1875. He made multiple appearances for the Sheffield FA side and played 18 times against London alone. In 1877, playing against Glasgow at Hampden he remains the only English player ever to be carried off the pitch by the home Scottish crowd, such was his impact.

Due to his small stature, Billy earnt the nickname of the ‘Little Wonder’ or ‘The Sheffield Dodger’. He was considered by many one of the best players of his era.  He had outstanding ball control, crossing ability and excellent dribbling skills. Billy was also an early exponent of the “screw shot” that allowed him to bend the ball in the air, a technique that was developed in Sheffield at the time and is now commonplace in the game.

As an early player who must have been taking money from the game, Mosforth’s skills were employed by many clubs including Hallam FC, Wednesday FC, Zulus FC, Harold FC, Sheffield Rovers FC & Sheffield United FC. On one occasion Billy turned up to play for Hallam FC and when he was offered 10 bob & free drinks quickly changed his shirt and ran out for Hallam’s opposition that day, The Wednesday. In 1878, Mosforth signed for the Wednesday and played for them for 10 years.

In the 1886 / 87 seasons Mosforth played for Lockwood Brothers FC in the FA Cup. After beating Nottingham Forest in the third round, Lockwood Brothers FC went out after a replay to losing finalists that year, West Bromwich Albion.

As England’s very first working class international (Mosforth won his first cap in 1877) his play was once described as “brilliant” when England beat Scotland in April 1879.

Billy Mosforth started working life as an engraver but in the 1881 census he was recorded as being the landlord of the Royal Oak at 29 King Street, Sheffield. A pub located between Haymarket and Angel Street – (see map)

Mosforth was the first player to play for both Wednesday & United & score for both these clubs. He also was the first player to score for Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. He also scored the first ever goal at The Wednesday’s Olive Grove, ground he played in the first ever floodlit match and was the record England capped player during his time as an international. A true legend of the game, Billy retired in 1890. He died in 1929.

Do you have more information about this that we could add? Are any of the facts wrong? Please get in touch if so.

Source: Steve Wood / Wikipedia
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