Arthur Kinnaird, First Lord of Football by Andy Mitchell
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Arthur Kinnaird's extraordinary life and crucial contribution to the formative years of football is revealed in First Lord of Football. In over 200 pages, it contains extensive new research on early association football and publishes previously unseen images, including for the first time:
The oldest letter in existence arranging a football match, from 1859;
The identities of the Scotland players in the first ever international, in 1870;
The oldest known football programme, from 1873.
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“He did more to popularise soccer than any man who ever lived”*
Arthur's portrait in 1880
Arthur Kinnaird (later Lord Kinnaird, 1847-1923) was football’s first superstar. Described as ‘without exception, the best player of the day’, he took part in nine FA Cup Finals (a record to this day), selected Scotland’s first international team, and was President of the Football Association for 33 years. He was such a dominant figure that he was presented with the FA Cup in gratitude.
In his time and under his leadership, football rose from obscurity, played on muddy parks in front of a handful of spectators, to become Britain’s national sport, with crowds of up to 100,000. AF Kinnaird played an integral role as football swept the country like wildfire, thanks to the creation of easily-understood rules and crowd-pulling competitions.
Yet he was no mere footballer made good: a consummate philanthropist, he spent his youthful nights helping destitute orphans to read and write, devoted every waking hour to good causes, and earned a fortune in his career as a banker only to give much of it away. As Lord Kinnaird, an ancient title he inherited in 1887, he led national bodies such as the YWCA and the YMCA, was Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and fostered the spread of evangelical religion.
His sporting accomplishments were widespread: he was a Cambridge University tennis blue, university fives and swimming champion, and took first place in an international canoe race. He won athletics prizes as a youth and played competitive cricket past his fiftieth birthday.
This was, however, no life of unburdened triumph: he lost two sons, killed in the First World War, tragedies which eventually led to the demise of the Kinnaird title before the 20th century was out.
Sports historian Andy Mitchell has now published his biography, which is available to purchase securely online.
*Quote from Sir Frederick Wall
©Andy Mitchell 2013