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Cuthbert John Ottaway England’s First Football Captain

Cuthbert John Ottaway England’s First Football Captain

I have said it a 100 times or more… there is history waiting to be discovered around virtually every street corner in Old London Town and not just in central London! I was sheltering from the rain under some kind of pine tree in Paddington Old Cemetery when a new gravestone caught my eye. The inscription read In Memory or Cuthbert John Ottaway England’s First Football Captain 1872…

On what must have been my 1000th visit to Paddington Old Cemetery I had stumbled upon a unique part of the beautiful games history. I was a bit mystified as to why it had taken me so long to discover Cuthbert’s gravestone… I was a wee bit worried by my lack of attention! However I had a good excuse, a new gravestone had been erected on 13 August 2013.

Cuthbert John Ottaway first game as England captain took place against Scotland in Glasgow and by all accounts England were very lucky to scrape a 0 – 0 draw. Cuthbert’s second and last match in which he was also England’s captain was once again held in Glasgow against Scotland, this time the Scot’s triumphed 2 – 1.

In those days… footballers got paid a pittance and did it for the love of the game. Cuthbert’s day job was as a barrister, which he did until he died on the 2nd of April 1888 at the age of 28 years old.

I don’t know why it took so long for a more fitting gravestone to be acquired to mark the spot where the first English Football captain was buried. They should have had a whip round during playtime time at his former school Eaton: I’m sure enough would have been raised to build a mighty mausoleum!



For a more in-depth insight into the life and history of Cuthbert John Ottaway visit England Football Online.