Picture
One of the most enigmatic players in the 1860s and early 1870s was Alexander Morten, who was at least 41 years old when he captained England in March 1873. His date of birth, even his parentage and background, has proved maddeningly elusive, so I had the idea of tracking down his gravestone to see if there were any clues.
He died in 1900 and was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, a vast burial ground in north London. The staff there could not have been more helpful in pinpointing the location of the grave, where he was buried with his wife Flora and two chilldren who had died young. I duly found plot number 14493, beside the path in an overgrown section, amidst a row of elaborately carved headstones and tombs, all packed with detail about families and dates. Yet, when it came to the Morten stone, to my immense disappointment, there is nothing whatsoever carved on the stone slab. The only identification is the plot number along one edge, not even the family name. It is hard to imagine why this is the case: certainly the deaths of Alexander and Flora took place fairly close together (both in 1900, him on 21 February, her on 9 December) but one would have expected them to have erected a marker for the children (Frances died in 1858, Frederick in 1864). Not only that, but what about their surviving children, who were not short of money and could have provided a memorial to the parents? It all adds to the enigma, and unfortunately I am no further forward to discovering his identity.

 
 
Picture
It's all go. This week I have launched a new website which as a broad remit to cover all that is interesting about the history of Scottish sport. Have a look at www.scottishsporthistory.com

And what is more, my new book is now available. Called 'First Elevens, the birth of international football', it sells at just £9.99 plus postage from the website. I hope it creates waves, as it is the culmination of a year's research into the players who were responsible for creating our national football teams back in the early 1870s.