BLACKBURN ROVERS 5 BLACKBURN AND DISTRICT 1 - September 16th 1882
The first ever football match at Park Avenue was an exhibition game between Blackburn Rovers and Blackburn and District (not Blackburn Olympic as is widely believed) played on September 16th 1882. The following report appeared in the Bradford Daily Telegraph three days later. Although the experiment was a moderate success, it was to be 13 long years before the round ball game was seen again at the ground.
On Saturday afternoon a highly interesting, but, during the first half a one-sided match was played between the above teams on the ground of the Bradford Football Club, Park Avenue. The object of the visit of the Lancashire players was to afford an opportunity to the public of judging of the respective merits of the Rugby and Association game, the Committee of the Bradford Club being desirous of introducing into Bradford the Association game. There was a fairly large “gate”, remembering that perhaps seven out of every ten of those who paid for admission were ardent admirers or students of the Rugby game.
The Rovers, who were an exceptionally strong team, won the toss, and Thornber kicked off for the District, a few minutes after which the ball having been worked into the District quarters a goal was cleverly saved by Woodfall. From here, although the ground was neither in proper condition for the Association game nor sufficiently wide, some excellent forward play was witnessed, and the Rovers’ citadel was for a while assailed; but they now began to show how well they can work together, and again got the ball into such disagreeable proximity to the District goal that, in trying to save, Ramsdale, by a misjudged kick, sent it between his posts, and thus placed the first point to the credit of the Rovers. This mettled the District men, and the kick-off was the signal for some capital forward play, but the Rovers again pressed up, and the play was once more taken by them to the enemy’s ground, and after the ball had been played out, Avery, from the corner-kick by McIntyre, headed the ball through the posts, thus securing the second goal for the Rovers.
It was evident that the District men lacked the system of working together and following up which was the chief characteristic of the Rovers’ play – owing of course to the varied representation in the District team, but the rapid downfall of their citadel spurred them on, and as the result of some good dribbling and passing by McGill and Snape, Suter had to save the Rovers’ colours by giving them a corner-kick; but it did not result in anything, and play was then removed for some time to neutral ground. Again, however, the Rovers’ forwards worked the ball up to the District line, when another mis-kick narrowly escaped increasing the score of the Rovers, a corner-kick that followed availing nothing.
A few minutes later the Rovers again assailed the District goal and Woodfall had to fist out the ball; but again the corner-kick by McIntyre brought nothing, and McGill improved matters for his side by working the ball to the opposite end, but failed to lower the Rovers’ colours, the kick being too high. The Rovers then rallied, and were not long in compelling Woodfall to again fist out; and although McIntyre again failed to turn the corner-kick to account, the Rovers played up so well that shortly afterwards Brown shot a goal in splendid fashion, this being followed in quick succession by yet another, secured by Avery, who with the other Rovers’ forwards worked grandly and did some admirable execution. The play now was for some time in front of the Rovers’ stronghold, but a foul against the District brought relief to the Rovers, who were again soon operating in their opponents’ quarters, and succeeded just before half-time in securing their fifth goal to nothing, the last being kicked by Avery, after some wonderfully sharp passing.
On changing ends, Strachan kicked off for the Rovers, and it soon became evident that the District meant to make a better fight than in the first-half. McGill, as centre forward, certainly worked hard, never missing an opportunity of carrying the play towards the Rovers’ line, and he was admirably supported by Snape, on the right wing, the latter dribbling the ball in magnificent style until within a few yards off the Rovers’ goal when, although closely pressed, he succeeded in shooting it through in the cleanest fashion, thus securing the only point registered for the District, the result of the game, which appeared to be much enjoyed, being Rovers five goals; District one.
The back division of the District, and more especially Wood, did some excellent work in the second half, the pick of the forwards for the District throughout being McGill and Snape; while for the Rovers Suter and McIntyre of the backs, and Avery, Strachan, and Douglas of the forwards, were conspicuous for energy and smart play. Both teams were entertained subsequently at the Alexandra Hotel.
The following composed the teams:-
Rovers: A. Arthur, goal; F. Shorrocks and F. Suter, full backs; H. McIntyre and F.W. Hargreaves, half-backs; J. Douglas, J. Duckworth, J. Brown, F. Strachan, J. Hargreaves, and S. Avery, forwards.
District: A. Woodfall (Rovers), goal; J.Wood (Rovers) and P. Chippendale (Church), full backs; W. Lathom (Rovers) and Ramsdale (Witton), half-backs; J. Lofthouse (Rovers), J. Snape (Witton), J. McGill (Everton), Thornber (Rovers), R. Blenkhorn (Rovers), and A. Barton (Rovers), forwards.
Umpires, Messrs J. Lewis and H. Ibberson; Referee, Mr J.H. Fielden