Apart from this website, an obvious place to look for information on Arthur Kinnaird is Wikipedia. The trouble is, Wikipedia is notoriously unreliable. To be fair, Arthur's page isn't that bad, aI have corrected and updated it a little, in particular the background to his reputation for hacking. But I am regularly frustrated/annoyed/dismayed at the misinformation that crops up elsewhere. As a small example, I am researching his football contemporaries and was checking the background to Charles Chenery, the only man to play for England in the first three official internationals. According to Wikipedia, Chenery was educated at Marlborough College - but a quick check of the school register shows that he wasn't. According to Wikipedia, Chenery went abroad around 1877 and was never heard from again - but it didn't take long to find out that he had emigrated to Australia, settled in the countryside near Melbourne and died there in 1928. I've corrected these, but once 'facts' go on Wikipedia they get repeated elsewhere, and the Marlborough connection crops up on a number of other sites. it does beg the question of what else has been written about early footballers that is accepted as fact, but is just repeated misinformation. More to follow....
What would Arthur Kinnaird have made of the World Cup? He was initially sceptical about international competitions but came round to the idea. In 1908, he was strangely prophetic, and said: "In future, there existed the possibility of Great Britain's supremacy being challenged by other nations. The international championship might be taken away from these shores, in which event we should go abroad and take it back!" Five years earlier, however, he was so unreceptive to a suggestion that the FA should oversee the formation of FIFA that the French visionary Robert Guérin described a conversation with Arthur as "un coup d’épée dans l’eau" i.e. it was like swishing through water with a sword.
Having just watched the Danish defence conspire to score the first own goal of this World Cup, it may be of some consolation (well, maybe not) to Poulsen and Agger to know that people have been scoring own goals for over 140 years.
In fact, Arthur Kinnaird may have witnessed the very first own goal, as described in a match report of West Kent v Civil Service, played in the teeth of a gale at Kennington Oval on 13 November 1869. 'One of the Service backs, in attempting to save his lines, had his kick so frustrated by the wind that the ball was driven back into the goal, West Kent consequently scoring a goal by this accident.' Even though the sides then had to change ends, under the rules of the day, giving Civil Service the advantage of having the wind at their backs, it was the only goal of the game.
West Kent? It was a club side, rather than a regional select, possibly based on West Kent Cricket Club. Arthur played for them on several occasions, in between appearances for Wanderers and Old Etonians.
Lord Kinnaird crops up in all sorts of places, not just the football archives. As a renowned philanthropist, he was involved in a huge range of charities and organisations, and travelled widely around Europe and further afield to America, India and Egypt. He had the town of Kinnaird (near Castlegar) named after him in Canada, there was to be a Kinnairdpur village in India, and he helped to establish Kinnaird College (in memory of his mother) in Lahore, now Pakistan.
Closer to home, he was regularly invited to perform opening ceremonies - this plaque from 1912 is in Horseferry Road in London. I'd love to hear of any other locations where his name appears.
Why the heading for the blog, 'Arthur Kinnaird's Beard'? It was one of the most distinctive features of the great man: a bushy red beard that made him stand out from the mass of players, and in the days before numbers that was quite an asset.
Although whiskers of various sorts were common in the Victorian era, it was unusual to have a full beard, and especially for the young. Yet Arthur grew his beard while still at school - he was photographed at Eton - and kept it for the rest of his life. Unfortunately he never recorded the reasons for having it: too busy to shave, perhaps, while spending his nights down in the slums of the east end? Any theories welcome.
To start off the blog, a story about a trip to America for two men who would become football immortals. In 1865, Arthur Kinnaird and Morton Peto Betts, both fresh out of school, travelled across the Atlantic together. Both men would play a key role in the FA Cup in years to come: Arthur would play in nine of the first twelve finals, and Betts would score the winner in the first ever FA Cup final in 1872.
They were taken along with a group of merchants and financiers on a trade mission to invest in America, which was ready for business now that the Civil War was over. The mission was led by Betts' uncle, Sir Morton Peto, a great railway entrepreneur, and Arthur's father Arthur Kinnaird MP, senior partner in Ransom Bouverie and Co, a merchant bank in London.
They set out from Liverpool at the end of August 1865 on the 'Scotia' for the crossing to New York. Arthur and young Betts were both just out of school - Eton and Harrow respectively - and were both about to enrol at Trinity College, Cambridge. No doubt they had plenty of time on the long voyage to debate the respective merits of Eton and Harrow football rules.
The party, described in the American press as 'the English capitalists', were hoping to invest in the expansion of the railways, and even brought with them their own first class carriage, in which to travel over the Atlantic and Great Western Railway that was their primary investment target. The group was feted by local business leaders wherever they went. From New York, they went to inspect the site for a new railway bridge over the Niagara River at Lake Erie to link the USA and Canada; then it was on to Chicago, Cincinatti and (in a 17 hour train journey) as far west as St Louis, where they met General Ulysses Grant. The Kinnairds, father and son, also broke off to meet the US President, Andrew Johnson, who wanted to personally thank Mr Kinnaird for the vocal political support he had given the North during the Civil War.
By early October, Arthur Kinnaird and Morton Betts had returned to England, and matriculated for their first term at university, where they would take the first steps on the long road to football fame.