In Victorian England, a common practice was to use funeral cards in memory of a deceased person. These cards often included a few lines of appropriate verse.
In the early 20th century, the practice developed into producing humorous imitations of funeral cards. Instead of mourning the passing of a person, these spoof cards marked a misfortune suffered by a football club.
One-hundred-and-eleven years ago, one such card, headed ‘In Loving Memory of Leicester Fosse’ was produced.
This followed the Fosse suffering a 2-0 home defeat against Derby County in a second round FA Cup tie at Filbert Street on 6 February, 1909.
Leicester were playing in their first-ever season in the old First Division, but at the time of the match, they were bottom-but-one in the table, having won only two out of their previous 17 league games.
Derby, on the other hand, were in the Second Division having been relegated in 1907.
The game was played at Filbert Street in front of a crowd of 22,000, easily the biggest of the season.
In a suitably appropriate style, the doggerel verse on the card references County’s inside-left Horace Barnes and centre-forward Alf Bentley.
The line ‘When Bentley knocked Starbuck through the goal’ refers to Bentley scoring a penalty past the Fosse goalkeeper, Jonty Starbuck.
Surprisingly, the poet decided not to mention Derby's other goalscorer, inside-right Ronald Trueman.
The picture of the hearse, and the epithets ‘No flowers by request’ and ‘R.I.P. rest in pieces’ further echo the mournful tone of a genuine funeral card.
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