SIR CHARLES CLEGG (1851 - 1937)
"The first man knighted for services to football"
In completing the article on the 1912 F.A.Cup Final replay at Bramall Lane I came across the name of Charles Clegg who as F.A. Chairman presented the trophy to the Barnsley team after their victory over West Bromwich Albion. (The Lord Mayor of London who was due to present the trophy after the first match at Crystal Palace did not want to travel up north). The name seem to jog a distant memory or two and so I did a bit of research on his life. There is a section in Wednesday by Keith Farnsworth (Sheffield City Libraries 1982 page 15 - 18) that details parts of his life and is well worth reading. The section below is in addition to this.
Charles Clegg who died 26th June 1937 at the age of 87 became known in the years following the 1912 Final as "the great old man of football" and at the time of his death had served the Football Association for over 51 years
A Sheffield Wednesday Director and President he played for Wednesday and Sheffield F.C. and had the honour on one occasion of playing for England in the first international with Scotland in 1872. It was a bitter experience. Clegg scarcely got a kick and became convinced that his mostly old school and varsity team mates were deliberately not passing to him: as he recalled, ‘Some members of the England eleven were awful snobs and not much troubled about a “man fra' Sheffield”’ (J. A. H. Catton, Wickets and Goals, 1926, 171). Charles Clegg also refereed international matches and was the referee for the 1882 F.A. Cup Final between Old Etonians and Blackburn Rovers at Kennington Oval (London) (The Old Etonians won 1 - 0) and the 1892 F.A. Cup Final between West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa. (the Baggies won 3 - 0) He also instrumental in the foundation of Sheffield United F.C. (1889) and was to serve at various times as both Chairman and President of the club. In 1890 he was elected Chairman of the F.A.
Charles took after his father William and was a militant teetotaller and non smoker as well as a person of fierce religious convictions. It has been said that "under Clegg, the Sheffield Wednesday board took a dim view of any player whose drinking or visits to pubs were deemed inappropriate, and there was a pretty restricted view of what was appropriate...." and Farnsworth in his previously mentioned book notes Clegg's frequently quoted maxim of "nobody ever gets lost on a straight road"
Farnsworth also notes that Charles Clegg was a fierce opponent of professionalism in football. He had a great fear that the game would be destroyed and corrupted by the introduction of elements who sought to exploit football for their own financial gain. (an interesting point especially given the recent developments in British football). He also believed that the game should and must be administered by amateurs who must ensure that the running of the game is impartial and above board. Above all the persons who administer the game must be seen as fit and proper persons who are in effect trustees of the game - they must retain the confidence of the public in all their dealings.
In 1923, Clegg was elected as FA president. Still president
of the SHFA and on the Sheffield United and Wednesday boards, his attendance at
committee meetings became more sporadic. He was in his seventies. He was bowed
by personal tragedies. His eldest son, William, who had joined the family law
firm, died in 1927. Clegg himself seems to have had a stroke the same year. His
younger son Colin died in 1929. His wife's death in 1933 was a particularly
severe blow. But despite these setbacks he retained a massive moral influence
over the game. He was knighted in 1927 for ‘services to the Board of Trade and
the Ministry of Labour’. This could have been for work with local youth and
employment committees: most assumed that Baldwin had recommended football's
As we have seen Clegg's approach to football was of a piece with his Methodist beliefs and commitments. He and Lady Clegg were temperance activists: he was secretary and later president of the British Temperance League. As late as the 1940s, accordingly, Sheffield United players seeking to make a living outside the game as publicans were being driven out of the club. He remained a fierce opponent of gambling: hence football's unavailing attempts to prevent gambling on the game. He was a regular chapel-goer and inaugurated a special annual service for footballers. He was a magistrate and widely respected official receiver in bankruptcy for Sheffield. Sir Charles Clegg died at his home, Clifton House, 32 Cavendish Road, Sheffield, on 26 June 1937, and was buried four days later in Fulwood churchyard.
32 Cavendish Road Sheffield - Photograph taken January 2012
Incidentally The next England player to receive a knighthood was Stanley Mathews thirty eight years later.
This photograph was taken on 2nd March 1878 soon after Sheffield Wednesday had beaten Attercliffe in the final of The Sheffield Challenge Cup. Fourth from the left on the back row is Charles Clegg and to his right, (third from left) is his brother William. Keith Farnsworth states that this is possibly the earliest surviving picture of a Sheffield Wednesday team. Charles had earlier in his career played for local clubs Broomhill, Perseverance F.C. and Sheffield Albion
Charles Clegg, born John Charles on June 15th 1850, was the eldest son of Alderman William Johnson Clegg and after leaving school , he joined the firm of Sheffield solicitors that was headed by his father. He was admitted to the profession of a solicitor in 1872
The 1881 Census shows Charles, married and living at Dwelling: 4 Wharncliffe Road Census Place: Ecclesall Bierlow, York, England
FHLF: 1342119 PRO Ref: RG11 Piece/Folio 4633/91 Page Number 26
|SURNAME||FORENAME||Age||Rel||Occupation||Place of Birth||County of Birth|
|CLEGG||Jno. C||30||Head||Town Councillor/Solicitor||Sheffield||Yorkshire|
4 Wharncliffe Road Sheffield - Photograph taken January 2012
He married his wife MARY (nee SAYLES) nearly nine years earlier in the September quarter of 1872 in Gorton, Manchester (GRO ref Volume 8d Page 637). The address of Wharncliffe Road is in the Broomhall area of Sheffield and was in the late nineteenth century an area where some of Sheffield's most prominent citizens lived.
The 1901 Census shows Charles still in practice as a Solicitor and his eldest son Charles W. seems to have followed his father into the profession. They have moved house in the intervening period and were now living on a road in the Nether Edge/Brincliffe area of Sheffield
Dwelling: 32 Cavendish Road Census Place: Ecclesall, Sheffield York, England
PRO Ref: RG13 Piece/Folio 4358 Page Number
|SURNAME||FORENAME||Age||Rel||Occupation||Place of Birth|
|CLEGG||John. C||50||Head||Solicitor||Sheffield Yorkshire|
|CLEGG||Edith M||21||Dau||Sheffield Yorkshire|
The younger brother COLIN lists his occupation as Civil Engineer and is living in Battersea London.
The 1911 UK Census has this information on Charles
Name John Charles Clegg
Relationship to Head of Household Head
Condition Married Gender Male
Age 60 Estimated Year of Birth 1851
Employed Yes Working at Home No
Place of Birth Sheffield
Address 32 Cavendish Road Parish Ecclesall Type of Building Private House
Number of Rooms 11 Inhabited Y
Reference RG14PN27789 RG78PN1591 RD509 SD5 ED11 SN243 Administrative County Yorkshire (West Riding) Registration District Ecclesall Bierlow Registration Sub District Ecclesall South Enumeration District 11
In The Times dated Friday 20th August 1937 it gives brief details of Charles Clegg's will. He left a gross total of £24,834 (£22,640net)
Charles son COLIN CLEGG also had an important connection with the Sheffield area. As an engineer he completed the Ewden Valley Reservoir scheme for Sheffield Corporation. The work on the scheme began in 1913 but it was only completed in 1929. After completion Colin went on holiday to Filey but immediately on his return he went into a nursing home for an operation. It was in this Westminster nursing home that Colin died on September 11th 1929 age 52. Like his father he was also a director of Sheffield United Football Club. An obituary appears in The Times dated September 11th 1929 (page 14 Issue 45306)
His obituary appeared in The Manchester Guardian dated 28th June 1937
The funeral service for Sir Charles Clegg took place on 30th June 1937 at Sheffield Cathedral. The Very Rev. A.C.E. Jarvis officiated and the Rev H. Tyler Lane gave an address. The congregation included " representatives of the Football Association from all parts of the country, of many football clubs, of many temperance bodies, and of the legal profession, besides business associates and personal friends." after the service Charles was interred in Fulwood Churchyard, Sheffield.
The Scotsman - Thursday, 1st July 1937, page 13 gave the following report - the address of H Tyler Lang is a classic
FUNERAL OF SIR CHARLES CLEGG
Service in Sheffield Cathedral The national Football-Associations of Great Britain, fifty County Associations, and many League clubs were represented in Sheffield yesterday at the funeral of Sir Charles Clegg, president of the Football Association. Sheffield" Cathedral was crowded for the service, which was conducted by the City Provost. In his address the Rev H. Tyler Lang, a Methodist minister, said that they had to thank God for Sir Charles's work to maintain the integrity of sport and to keep football clean from prostitution-.
In Loving Memory of
JOHN CHARLES CLEGG Kt
BORN June 15th 1850
PASSED ON June 26th 1937
In Loving Memory of
The beloved wife of JOHN CHARLES CLEGG Kt
BORN 1st April 1850
CALLED HOME 22nd August 1933
A photograph of the family grave and its fine memorial can be found on the Clegg Family Page
Wednesday by Keith Farnsworth (SCL 1982) page 15 - 18
Sheffield Wednesday - A Complete Record 1867 - 1987 by Keith Farnsworth
Rothman's Football Yearbook
The Times Thursday 1st July 1937 (page 19 Issue 47725)
The Manchester Guardian dated 28th June 1937
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