The Champion magazine

Links With The Past: 'The Champion' Magazine

Club Historian John Hutchinson's Links with The Past series continues with look at an 87-year-old magazine which provides an insight into the Leicester City team of 1935/36.
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Hidden away in the Club’s extensive archive collection is this copy of The Champion, a British weekly boys' magazine which ran from 1922 until 1955. This edition was published almost exactly 87 years ago on 15 February, 1936 

The 28 pages contained seven fictional adventure stories illustrated by line drawings. There is also a full-page three-column feature, in a very small blue font, entitled ‘Star Players and their Clubs: This week Leicester City FC.’

This article gives a snapshot of ‘The Filberts’ in the 1935/36 season. It starts with a synopsis of the Club’s history from its foundation, highlighting the Fosse’s promotion in 1908 together with the 1929 season when they missed out on the league title by finishing as runners-up, one point behind Sheffield Wednesday.

It then mentions that City were newly relegated to the Second Division the previous season after 10 years in the top flight before moving on to provide pen pictures of the first team. 

The pen pictures are categorised according to the old 2-3-5 system. This deployed two full-backs, three half-backs and five forwards. Goalkeeper Alex ‘Sandy’ McLaren is described as ‘a Scottish giant’.

The two full-backs were Dai Jones and Alex ‘Sandy’ Wood. The article mentions that Jones was a Wales international full-back who had been overlooked by several London clubs before becoming a stalwart at Leicester and that Wood had played for the USA in the 1930 World Cup and was now running a tobacconists shop in Leicester. 

The half-backs featured were right-half Septimus ‘Sep’ Smith, centre-half Roger Heywood and left-half Percy Grosvenor (mis-named Phil in the article).

The article states that Sep had three brothers who were currently professional footballers. These were Jack and Willie, who in 1936 played for Bournemouth and Portsmouth respectively and Tom of Manchester United and Northampton, who had recently died.

Surprisingly there was no mention of the fact that, in the 1934 semi-finals of the FA Cup, Sep had played against Jack and Willie who were then both playing for Portsmouth, or that Jack had played for England (as did Sep, later that year).

There is also no mention of Sep’s fourth brother Joe, who had also been a professional footballer with Watford. The article erroneously states that, as a youngster, Sep had worked in a coal mine in the north-east. He hadn’t, although his father was a miner. 

Roger Heywood is described as a 6ft centre-half, while left-half back Percy Grosvenor’s family connections are mentioned. He is described as the brother of England international Tom Grosvenor of Birmingham City and Charlie Grosvenor of West Bromwich Albion and the son of Syd Grosvenor, who had played for Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The forward line is described as ‘a mixture of Scottish, Welsh and English players’.

The two Scots were the wingers Tom Carroll (‘a little player from Clyde’) and Danny Liddle. The Welshman was the team’s captain and inside-right Gene Callaghan, who a Wales international. He was described as ‘the best known of all of the Filberts’ who had transferred from Tottenham Hotspur 11 months earlier. 

The Englishmen were inside-left Arthur ‘Digger’ Maw, who had been at Leicester City for four seasons and Fred Sharman, the centre-forward. It wasn’t mentioned that Sharman was primarily a defender who was playing at centre-forward that season, following the departure of Club record goalscorer Arthur Chandler. 

The article also mentioned Tommy Mills, a Wales international inside-right, ‘transferred to Leicester City for a big fee last season’ (although he never established himself in the first team). 

At the foot of the page there is a monochrome team photograph of Leicester City, tinted in blue. There are two other football related items in this edition of The Champion.

There is a picture quiz on the rules of football on page eight, and an advertisement on the cover stating that there are ‘Ten autographs of famous footballers, free inside’. Presumably these disappeared decades ago!




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